MERRY CHRISTMAS 2017!
Christmas holiday or Christmas Day is a religious festival commemorated globally. It has become a phenomenon for more than two millennia, seen as both a commercial, religious and cultural event. Christians have celebrated this day in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ. And this religious celebration has been commonly observed on the 25th day of December by billions of people around the world. Though the exact date is not mentioned in the bible by either Matthew or Luke, billions of Christians around the globe celebrate Christmas on 25th December every year. The celebration has become such a phenomenon that the whole of December turns into a celebratory mood two to three weeks before the specific day. Some of the Christmas customs include decorating Christmas trees, holding feasts, exchanging gifts, families and friends coming together, singing of corals, church processions, and others believe in Santa’s visit. This day was declared a federal holiday in 1870 in the United States. However, to better understand the significance and history of this day, we have to look into the aspects surrounding this auspicious day in details.
Christmas, the most anticipated Holiday of billions of people around the globe has its roots in ancient pagan traditions. Long ago, even before Jesus was born the mid-winter season was celebrated around the world. Winter season meant extreme weather conditions and on the Winter solstice people celebrated the coming of longer days and extended sunlight hours.
One of the early celebrations of Christmas was seen among the Mesopotamians around 4000 years ago. The celebration was called ‘Zagmuk’ the Romans celebrated Saturnalia, in remembrance of their God of Agriculture -Saturn. The celebrations began before the winter solace and continued for a month or so.
For centuries, Christians celebrated Easter as the main festival and only around the fourth century the Church officials decided to announce a holiday in the name of Jesus Christ on his birthday. Pope Julius I chose December 25th as the birthday of Jesus Christ and soon the celebrations became popular in countries nearby. Christmas had a different name in the beginning; it was called as the Feast of the nativity. Church officials wanted to make the Christmas celebrations popular across the world so they combined the old pagan Saturnalia tradition into the Christmas celebrations. Around middle age, pagan religion was replaced by Christianity and there were varied different rituals of celebrating Christmas. One of the ways was to crown a beggar or student as the ‘lord of misrule’ and knock about rich people house demanding their best food and drinks. Failing to live up to their dreams, these intoxicated less fortunate citizens would punish them with various mischief.
In England, Puritan forces cancelled Christmas around 1645. Americans also had a bad experience. The English separatists who came to America in 1620 were orthodox and as a result Christmas was not even a holiday in early America. Furthermore showing Christmas spirit or joy was a crime which was charged five shillings. Finally Christmas was declared a holiday in 1870.
BIRTH OF JESUS
The traditional narrative behind Christmas revolves around the birth of Jesus. In fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies, as demarcated in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, Jesus was born in a town called Bethlehem. Joseph (The earthly father of Jesus) and Mary (the virgin mother) arrived in Bethlehem in the evening and found that the inn had no available rooms. This led to the young family staying at a stable where Jesus was soon born. Baby Jesus was born in a manger, and the angels celebrated by proclaiming the good news to the shepherds, who also circulated the message further. Though the bible does not specify the exact date of the birth of Jesus, the western Christian church chose 25th December in the early- to – mid fourth century. This was later to be adopted by the Eastern Church and the date has remained so until today.
To many Christians around the world, the date of the birth of Jesus is not the primary purpose for celebrating Christmas day. The holiday is simply in honor of the belief that The Creator, God took the form of man in order to come into the world and atone for the sins of humanity.
It gets though:
Christians around the world celebrate Christmas on December 25th according to the Gregorian calendar. However, not all Christians use the Gregorian calendar to celebrate Christmas; some eastern Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th of the Julian calendar. This corresponds to January 7th of the Gregorian calendar. But this is not a dispute rather a difference in calendars, which led the church in the Council of Tours of 567, to recognize both the eastern and western dates by declaring twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be a unified festal cycle.
Why Christmas is Celebrated in December 25?
Although the reason why the December 25th date was chosen for Christmas celebration, is not known: there are factors that influenced this choice. Some of those factors include:
- The date of December 25th was chosen in early A.D 273.
- The church settled for this date in order to stop the Roman pagan festivals like the Saturnalia. This was a week-long celebration of lawlessness held between December 17th – 25th.
- Christian leaders in the 4th century desired to turn pagans to Christianity by celebrating a Christian holiday without all the evils that came with Saturnalia. They succeeded in converting most of the pagans. In 1446, Pope Paul II revived most of the evils of the Saturnalia carnival.
- December 25th is the day the Romans marked as the darkest day of the year, known as the winter solstice. It is the shortest and darkest day of the year. This date is nine months after the birth of Jesus was announced. And because the days that follow the winter solstice are brighter and loner; this date of December 25th was easily chosen in reference to the fact that Jesus is linked to the sun based on the book of Malachi in the Old Testament.
- Isaac Newton stated in the 17th century that the date of Christmas was chosen to correspond with the solstice.
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CHRISTMAS OVER THE YEARS
For years, Christmas festive has been observed in honor of the birth of Jesus in many countries. The term Christmas came from the old English word ‘Cristes Maesse’ ;which means “Christ Mass”. Though everyone celebrates Christmas around the world; the younger generation views the holiday as more of a cultural celebration than a religious one. And many will prefer going out partying with friends, although still holding onto some customs like exchanging gifts. Nonetheless, 96 percent of the adults today celebrate Christmas the very same way they did in their childhood. This is to show that Christmas traditions remain the same until date.
There are several Christmas customs that are observed during this holiday around the world. Some of them include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, kissing under the mistletoe, Santa, corals and feasts. Each of these customs have their origins, though most Christians celebrate and incorporate these customs without really knowing where they are from.
Christmas Tree: There are many Christmas traditions but the most common tradition which has been passed on since centuries is the decoration of Christmas tree. Trees have been worshiped by many civilizations since ancient days and today Christmas is synonymous with Christmas tree. But the modern Christmas tree we see may be born in the 8th Century when St. Boniface converted the Germanic Tribes who worshiped Oak trees.
Mistletoe: Another common tradition is the use of mistletoes. The Druids believed mistletoes came from heaven and grew in the boughs of a tree on earth. It represented the combining of the Heaven and Earth. One of the modern uses of mistletoe is by kissing under it, which symbolizes reconciliation and acceptance.
Exchanging of Presents – The Catholic Church covered the gift-giving custom of Saint Nicholas cult with a Christian veneer.
Santa Claus: Another tradition that’s largely favored by Children is ‘Santa Claus’, the imaginary old man who magically keeps track of the nice children and presents them with gifts by sneaking into their houses through Chimneys. For the naughty ones though he leaves a bag of coal. This custom is derived from the Nicholas cult: Nicholas was a bishop of Myra. The cult believed that when Nicholas died he merged with Woden, who is believed to be the father of Thor. And he grew a white beard, and flew across the sky with a flying horse. Nicholas was born in Turkey 270 CE, and he died on 6th December 345 CE. The Catholic Church recruited the Nicholas cult and taught all of them to distribute gifts on 25th December instead of December 6th. In Dutch Saint Nicholas is called Santa Claus.
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Holly and Yule Logs: Other noteworthy Christmas traditions are Holly, which are the leaves of the same tree Jesus wore while he was crucified. Yule Logs have been a part of the celebrations since long time by the Chaldeans from the Middle East. The log is sprinkled with Salt, oil and mulled wine and the family would pray to keep them safe from lightening and the devil.
Candy canes are also a part of Christmas and today they are quite popular. The candy canes were believed to have been invented in the 1800’s and in 1920 the modern red and white candy canes made way. The J shape also has some mysterious facts and story attached to it, some say it signifies Jesus since it symbolizes ‘J’ the letter. Some say it symbolizes the Shepherds crook, relating to the shepherds visiting baby Jesus at the first Christmas.
Christmas bells or Church bells are often used as a symbol of Christianity during the Holiday season. In many Anglican and catholic churches offer their first service after sunset on Christmas Eve. Christmas bells are rung to signal the start of the service.
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Christmas is celebrated in modern world by decorating houses, adding colorful lights and educations and decorating the Christmas tree. There are so many different ornaments and n number of ways you can decorate your home, office school or any place you want using different Christmas decorations. While there are many ways to decorate the house and Christmas tree, the main color theme is white and green.
Christmas decorations include the different types if Christmas decorations seen throughout the world. There are so many ways to decorate your home, your workplace or anywhere else; all you need is creativity. Paper garlands, paper flowers and lanterns are largely used to decorate outdoors as well as indoors. In Australia seashells are used to decorate. Some Ukrainian households add spiders or spider webs to Christmas trees.
In Greece, many households still decorate a Ship instead of a Christmas tree. Likewise there’s a difference in how Santa Clause’s image is believed among Italian households. Italian children look up to a witch like character called La Befana.
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The old tradition of worshipping oak trees was native to the Germanic Tribe, but it slowly got adapted and today hundreds and thousands of people follow this custom. Some also suggest the tradition became popular during 16th Century when Martin Luther first used Lighted candles to decorate the Christmas tree. People purchase or chop down a Christmas Pine tree, Fur or Spruce. The history says traditionally people decorated the Christmas tree with edibles like apples, nuts etc., after that candles were used to decorate the tree. It was when modern electric bulbs were invented that people started using colorful electric bulbs to decorate. Today, there are so many ways to decorate your Christmas tree. Colorful garlands, tinsel, candy canes, Christmas balls, bells and more such items are used to give the Christmas tree a festive feel.
The small star on the top of the Christmas tree is called the star of Bethlehem, which still is a much debated Christmas decoration. But still most Christmas trees will feature an angle or the star of Bethlehem. Some say that the three men came from Persia, Arabia and Sheba and are also known as the three kings. They were Magi’s or Magupati, simply put, they were astrologers. It is believed that they saw an unusually bright star and foretold the birth of a new king of Israel. Then they went on to search for the king and went towards east, finally finding baby Jesus.
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Did you know that the word Carol means dancing to a happy song? It is believed that Christmas Carols were first sung in Europe for centuries, but they were not what you call ‘Christmas Carols’, they were basically pagan songs sung at the festive season of Winter Solstice. When Christianity became popular and slowly included the pagan traditions, Carols were included too, but this time they were based on Christianity. “Angel’s Hymn” was a song sung in Rome during Christmas service around AD 129. Some other famous Christmas Carols were written during that time too. Later on, when St. Francis Assisi crated his nativity plays in Italy, Canticles were popular. These Canticles were songs that told the story in a musical way.
During the Puritan movement, carols were banned and people only sang them privately. Public Carol singing became popular after people became more and more attracted towards Carols and Choirs and Orchestras were set up. These Choirs remain popular till date and many new carols have been written as well as the old ones.
What’s Christmas without some Christmas gifts? Many people eagerly wait for Christmas to receive and give away presents to their dear ones. This is also the time to show love and maintain your friendship with colleagues. For this reason people start to stock up on Christmas presents from as much as two months early to avoid rush or disappointment.
There are many options to choose from and the perfect Christmas gift depends on the recipient’s taste and needs, but Chocolates, Flowers, Wine, Coffee hampers, Beautify and bath combos, latest gadgets like iPhone, pad, laptops etc. make for good Christmas gift choices. There are other options too like handmade cards, gifts or skincare items, some prefer purchasing a hamper or gift basket to present to their loved ones. There are many Christmas Gifts for boyfriend, Christmas gifts for girlfriend, Christmas gift for friends, Christmas gifts for parents and more. On an average people spend a lot of money on purchasing gifts but you can save a lot with homemade Christmas gifts that are thoughtful and affordable too.
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There are many Christmas poems that were created to emphasize on the beautiful Christmas celebrations. These poems are ideal for reading to kids and work well for Christmas cards or gift tags too. A quick or short Christmas poem adds a little dash of warmth to a dull thank you note. There are many famous Christmas poems as well as short Christmas poems or messages which work well.
Wishing your family and friends on Christmas is an essential part of the whole Christmas celebrations and what better way to convey your heartiest wishes than some Christmas messages. There are plenty Christmas messages for a variety of recipients, from lovers to friends to spouses as well as colleagues. It’s best to choose a suitable Christmas message from the wide range of online Christmas messages.
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Christmas Eve is the time when families get together and feast into some traditional Christmas dinner recipes. One of the most common or Christmas staple dish remains Turkey roast and it is quite popular in United States. Most countries have their own version of ideal Christmas recipes or traditional Christmas recipes but it is always a lavish feast. Most modern homes take this as an opportunity to enjoy a vast range of home cooked traditional preparations from pies to cakes to desserts and other traditional dishes. Cookies and cakes are also baked during the Christmas season and it is also used at the time of the Christmas dinner.
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I you have toddlers or kids below 12 years, and then you must make a list of some easy Christmas games to play during the long festive weakened. There are many funny games to choose from. Even adults can join in and have fun.
You can play guessing games, go outdoors and play with the snow (if it’s snowed). You can play different card games or play video games. There are many family games you can play all together and have fun. For those who don’t have different games.
Christmas is synonymous with Christmas messages and best wishes. It is the time when friends wish their friends a prosperous new year and send their heartiest greetings to their loved ones. There was a time when electrical messages were not available and people used to send handwritten paper cards to their near and dear ones.
Christmas cards are still preferred as they are thoughtful and look way better than electronic messages. You can get many Christmas Cards from local stores or download Christmas cards and print them on colorful stock cards. But if you love arts and crafts then bring home some stock blank cards and make your own Christmas cards. Also if you really have to send E cards you can search for Christmas cards online.
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Christmas is not only the time to celebrate, eat lavish meals and enjoy, you can take your celebrations up a few notch by bringing the family and kids together with some attractive crafts. Christmas Crafts are quite popular among younger children and early school goers…
There are many Christmas crafts like making your own Christmas tree decorations, decorating the house or making cute crafts with family members. You can include children, adults and even toddlers and give them something creative to make.
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Christmas is the time to enjoy and be merry so it’s quite natural that people arrange Christmas parties to meet up with friends and enjoy. There are many types of Christmas parties, since many Christmas parties are not celebrated on the day itself. The Christmas party hosts have a tough job since they have to invite everyone, make a list of their guests and organize everything. It means adding Christmas decorations, making Christmas recipes. Christmas parties are most of time organized indoors since the weather is rough at many places. Special Christmas recipes are spread out for the guests and friends and family gather around the fireplace and celebrate the togetherness.
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Christmas means exchanging gifts and wishes for a prospective next year and to say thanks to family & friends. Most of the times, you have an idea of what to give to near and dear ones. But there are times when you have to pick a gift for someone you don’t really know that well, for example- Your boss, a colleague or a friend. For the times when you don’t really want to turn your world upside down there are some quick and easy options to choose a quick yet useful gift for your recipient.
Take your pick from some of the Christmas Hampers on offer or try the Christmas gift baskets that are also a great option. There are many different kinds of gift baskets and hampers to choose from and you can choose from age groups, relationship or hobby hampers or gift baskets. For example if your intended recipient loves coffee , give him a Coffee hamper or make a homemade gift basket. There are many options for gift baskets and hampers since you can choose according to budget or the likes of the receiver.
Christmas is the time to celebrate and it’s a popular theme for many filmmakers too. There are many films that show the Christmas season or celebrate Christmas spirit. Some best Christmas movies celebrate the fun and happy times around Christmas and some are also more about meeting up with family and enjoying. It’s nice to celebrate the day if you’re not going outdoors or would rather stay indoors and celebrate with your family. Christmas movies are a nice way to enjoy the season deeply. You can search the internet for the best Christmas movies. Some of the noteworthy are – The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, Love Actually, Reindeer Games and more. You can visit your nearest video renting shop and check the best available movies to watch. There are action thrillers, heart –warming romances, comedies as well as unique Christmas themed films to choose from and you can easily find a good movie to watch. For children the Home Alone series is really nice and it’s super fun to watch.
Facts and Trivia about Christmas
Christmas is all fun and merry; one of the most celebrated holidays globally. But do you understand the beliefs behind the various Christmas customs? Check out our list of interesting Christmas trivia and facts to add to your knowledge of Christmas. For instance do you know the meaning of “Xmas”? Do you know the origin of the gift giving tradition? Find out the answer to some of the fun trivia questions and expand your knowledge of Christmas trivia and fun facts.
What is the real meaning of the word Xmas?
Many Christians believe that Xmas is a profane acronym for the word Christmas. The truth is that the word Christ is written as ‘chi’ in the Greek language; which is identical to the Roman alphabet ‘X’.
What is the story behind The Birthplace of Jesus?
One of the prophecies talked of the birth of the King of the Jews, which was to take place in Bethlehem. And in fact this small city in Judea became the site of Nativity.
Though the exact place of His birth is not known, it is stated that Jesus was born in a stable. In those days stables were either situated in a cave or made of stones. For this reason an Empress in A.D 326 – 330 built a church on a cave she believed was the birthplace of Jesus.
The Altar inside the church is believed to be the holiest place in the Holy land: and said to mark the exact birthplace of Jesus.
What is the total number of turkeys consumed at Christmas every year?
Twenty-two million turkeys are consumed each year at Christmas weigh against to 45 million at Thanksgiving Day.
When was the world’s largest Caroling service?
The largest caroling service took place in 2003 December 20th. This was organized y the City of Cambridge in Ontario, Canada and recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. It had 1175 carolers singing Christmas songs in the City Civic Square for a whole 28 minutes.
Where is America’s National Christmas tree?
You would expect it to be located at the white house instead it is at the King’s Canyon National Park near Sanger, California. Commonly called the General Grant Tree, it was chosen as the National Christmas Tree in 1925.
Where did the traditional mistletoe kiss originate from?
Originally Celts believed that the parasitic plant had magical powers that granted healing and increased fertility; for this reason they hang it all over the house. Today, Americans hang it on doorframes and you can get a kiss from a sweetheart if you are standing under it. This is however an old tradition dating back to the 18th century.
What is the history behind the wreath?
The wreath was made in a circular shape with no end and no beginning; signifying eternity. Their history dates back as far as the ancient Druids who believed the plant was magical.
The wreath became synonymous with Christmas festive when Jesus was crowned with a wreath of thorns.
Do you know any Reindeer facts?
- Reindeers eat vegetation; they eat leaves and herbs in the summer. And eat lichen and moss in winter.
- They are not very fast; a white-tailed deer could easily outrun a reindeer.
- Reindeer break through the crust of snow using their antlers to reach the vegetation beneath.
- Reindeer come in various colors like dark gray, white, and brown.
OTHER CHRISTMAS FACTS
- Christmas was declared a national holiday in America on June, 26th 1870.
- Alabama was the first state to recognize the Christmas holiday officially.
- The first artificial Christmas trees were made in Germany. Made of goose feathers and dyed green.
- Franklin Pierce was the first president of the United State to decorate the white house Christmas tree.
- Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas coral in 1843 in just six weeks.
- In the year 1510, the first Christmas tree was decorated in Riga, Lavita.
- The famous word Noel, which came from the Latin word ‘natalis’ meaning ‘day of birth’: became part of the English language in the late 1300s.
- In 1882, Edward Jonson was the one who came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees. And in 1890, they were produced in mass.
- More than 3 million Christmas cards are sent in the U.S alone.
- The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings came from the 12th century nuns; who put fruits, nuts and tangerines at the door for the poor.
- James Pierpont wrote Jingle Bells in 1857 for thanksgiving and was originally called One Horse Open Sleigh.
- The biggest snowman ever built was 113 feet and it was found in Maine.
- The first time Christmas carols were sang in church was by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.