The Christmas Story is not only an important religious tale for Christians, but it is also a part of the culture of the Western world and is retold time and again in schools across the globe.
Children dress up as innkeepers, donkeys and Mary and Joseph themselves and bring the story back to life for the 21st century.
This beautiful and simple story carries messages of humility and acceptance of duty.
It provides historical context to this most significant of religious events while retaining the humanity of Mary and Joseph and describing their doubts and struggles.
It provides moments of solemnity and opportunities for worship and celebration.
The traditional story is compiled from the accounts of the nativity that are largely found in the gospels of Mark and Matthew.
Here we retell the combined gospel accounts once again in the traditional structure, for your delight.
Mary and Joseph
Two thousand years ago in the land of Judea (which is now a part of Israel), when Herod was King overall, there was a young woman called Mary.
Mary lived in the town of Nazareth, in the northern part of Judea. She was betrothed to be married to a man in that town called Joseph.
Mary was a virgin and a religious and obedient young woman.
One day, God sent the angel Gabriel to see Mary. He blessed her and told her, “God is pleased with you”. Mary was in awe and bewildered.
The angel told her not to be frightened. He said that God had blessed and chosen her, and that he would send her a baby boy for her to deliver. “You will call him Jesus,” Gabriel said.
The angel decreed that Jesus was to be the son of God himself. Afraid and vulnerable, Mary told the angel that she would place her trust in God.
This was a difficult thing for a young, unmarried woman to do and Mary has been praised by Christians through the ages for her obedience and trust in God.
John the Baptist
Before leaving Mary’s side, Gabriel explained that Mary’s cousin Elizabeth had been blessed with a long-awaited pregnancy and that this baby boy was chosen by God to prepare the way for Mary’s baby Jesus.
When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and Zechariah her husband, she found that it was as the angel had said. Elizabeth already knew about Mary’s visitation from Gabriel, and the baby she was to bear.
Elizabeth also knew that her long-awaited son was to be called John, and had been chosen by God to foretell the coming of Jesus since an angel had also visited her husband Zechariah.
This boy was to become John the Baptist and would baptize believers in the River Jordan in order to prepare them for the coming of the Son of God.
Christians celebrate John the Baptist to this day, for giving us the ritual of baptism through which Christians may be forgiven of their inherent sinfulness and prepared to receive the love of God.
When Mary’s betrothed, Joseph, heard about the baby he was concerned, because he was not yet married to Mary. But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream.
The angel told him not to be afraid, and to look after Mary who had been chosen and the baby who was God’s son. Joseph was told to name the baby Jesus, meaning ‘savior’.
Travel to Bethlehem
At the time of Mary’s pregnancy, all those living in the Roman Empire were subjected to a census, to help Emperor Augustus to administer more effective taxes.
All citizens were to return to the administrative district of their family in order to register, and Mary and Joseph were to travel to Bethlehem, the city of Joseph’s family, in order to do this.
Bethlehem was a long way to travel on foot – about 70 miles – but they had a donkey to help carry their goods. It was a long and slow journey, with Mary’s pregnancy nearly at its end.
When the couple arrived in Bethlehem, the city was full of people traveling for the census, and they could find nowhere to stay.
Eventually, they found an inn with an innkeeper who allowed them to stay in the animals’ sleeping area with the sheep and oxen. It was here, among the straw, that Mary delivered a baby boy who they named Jesus.
His bed was a manger of hay, and he was clothed simply in swaddling clothes, in the manner of the humblest of men at that time.
Shepherds in the hills outside Bethlehem were working, living and tending their sheep by day and by night. On that day at dawn, an angel appeared to a group of these shepherds.
This angel was a messenger, who lit up the sky around them and filled them with awe and wonder. “Fear not,” the angel said. “I bring tidings of great joy, for you and all mankind.”
The angel described the baby that had been born in Bethlehem, who was to be a savior and who had been born that night.
He said that the boy had been born for the shepherds and for all mankind and that they should go and worship him. “You will find the baby lying in a manger”, the angel said.
Then the angel was joined by a chorus of angels, ‘the heavenly host’, filling the sky and singing “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth”.
The shepherds, awed by the angels, left their fields and went to find Joseph, Mary and the baby lying in the manger as the angel had foretold.
They were amazed and told everyone, and returned to their sheep giving praise to the Lord.
At that time too, a new star appeared in the sky. This bright star was seen by Wise Men in distant lands, who studied the skies.
They guessed that the star told of the birth of a chosen baby who would grow up to be a great king, which they had read a forecast of in their ancient books.
The Wise Men prepared gifts for this baby king and followed the star to Judea, traveling in order to meet and celebrate the baby’s birth.
When they arrived in Jerusalem, which was then the capital of Judea, they asked about the child’s birth, telling people that there was a baby who was born to be ‘King of the Jews’.
This was reported to King Herod, who was made very angry by the suggestion of a child having been chosen to take his place as King.
Herod summoned the Wise Men and said to them that, once they had found the baby, they should tell him where it was so that the King could go and pay his respects too.
They agreed and continued following the star towards Bethlehem, where it appeared to them as though it had stopped over the place where Jesus was born.
When the Wise Men saw Jesus, they celebrated and worshiped him.
They gave him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and honored him as a religious leader and king.
God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod, so when it was time to leave they returned home by a different route.
The ‘slaughter of the innocents’
When King Herod discovered that the Wise Men had not returned to him, he was furious.
He ordered that all boys in the region aged less than two years old were to be killed, in order to make sure that the infant heir he had been told of could not survive and one day take over his rule.
This order was carried out and Herod’s soldiers took sons from their parents and murdered them. This became known as the ‘slaughter of the innocents’.
However, an angel had appeared to Joseph in a dream.
The angel warned that Jesus was in danger, and commanded Joseph to gather the little family and leave Bethlehem, traveling to Egypt, which was out of Herod’s jurisdiction.
So Joseph, Mary and Jesus escaped Bethlehem during the night and fled to Egypt, where they stayed for many years until the death of King Herod, and later moved back to Nazreth in Galilee.
This has been the story of the nativity: the tale that tells of the birth of Jesus, Son of God on earth and the celebration and controversy that surrounded him.
The gospel accounts go on to tell of the adult life of Jesus of Nazareth, his followers, and teachings, actions and miracles, before providing an account of the trial and crucifixion of this man that became Christ to his followers, ascending into heaven having shouldered the burden of the sins of all mankind.
Christians join in with that heavenly host in singing praises to God for the gift of His son. Merry Christmas to you all!
Learn More With the Help of Video
I always believe that kids should be made familiar with the story of Jesus Christ. Irrespective of religion and beliefs, there is something to learn from the birth of Jesus.
For me personally, when I was a kid, I would be amazed at how Mary, Joseph, and angels interacted before the birth of Jesus.
What is your favorite part of Jesus’ birth, do share with all of the readers in comments below.
Word Cloud for Birth of Jesus Christ for Kids
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Birth of Jesus Christ for Kids. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.