Sunday, June 23, 2013

What's in the Bible Review: Why Do We Call It Christmas?

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun, informative look at American Christmas traditions
Cons: As usual for series, songs could be better
The Bottom Line
Jesus, trees, Santa
Why are they part of Christmas?
Watch this to find out




Buck Denver and the What's in the Bible? Gang Tackle the Story of Christmas

Over the last year and a half, I've become a fan of Phil Vischer's DVD series What's in the Bible?  Each edition uses puppets to give a broad overview of a section of the Bible.  But for a Christmas special, Phil does something slightly different.  Why Do We Call It Christmas? breaks the formula but is still plenty fun.

This 45 minute video still stars all the same characters.  But instead of the newsroom and their various normal environments, this episode finds newsman Buck Denver in his cabin in Indiana.  He decides to invite all his friends for a Christmas party.  While he, Marci, and Sunday School Lady bake cookies and wait, the others find various modes of transportation to get to the cabin.  Along the way, they start discussing various questions about Christmas like why we call it that, why we bring an evergreen tree into the house and decorate it, why we celebrate on December 25th, and just how Santa Claus fits into the whole thing.  They even discuss Hanukkah and the true story behind it.

The biggest break from the formula is Phil Vischer himself, who only appears at the beginning and end.  Instead, all the time is spent with the various puppets on their various adventures.  I would say this one has more of a "plot" than the others, although the heart is still imparting information.  I wouldn't say there was anything here that truly surprised me.  Still, it was interesting to remember where our traditions come from.  Since the audience is mostly American kids and families, those are the traditions discussed, although other countries are mentioned when discussing the origins of some of our traditions.

While this video isn't just a retelling of the Biblical Christmas story, it does include that in the final third.  But it goes beyond Christmas to connect it to Easter and what the birth of Jesus ultimately means for us - forgiveness of sins.  It's a powerful ending to a fun DVD.

And make no mistake about it, this video is filled with the usual fun banter between characters and silliness we've come to expect from the series.  As usual, the songs are hit or miss.  All this and some informative content as well.

Those looking for a way to explain our American Christmas traditions to their kids will be very interested in Why Do We Call It Christmas?  It's an entertaining yet informative way to do just that.

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