Christmas Day


Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ,liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days. In much of the world's nations Christmas is a civil holiday,is celebrated by an increasing amount of non-Christians,and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.

The precise day of Jesus’ birth, which historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown. In the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church first placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted also in the East.

The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, and that is still the date of the celebration in Armenia, where it is a public holiday, and for the Armenian Apostolic Church. As of 2011, there is a difference of 13 days between the Julian calendar and the more generally used Gregorian calendar. Those who use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of people is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia celebrates Christmas, both as a Christian feast and as a public holiday on what in the Gregorian Calendar is January 7.

Popular modern custom:

Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly.

In addition, several figures, known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus, among other names, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

* Etymology
* Celebrations
* Date of celebration
* Commemorating Jesus’ birth
* Decorations
* Music and carols
* Food
* Cards
* Stamps
* Gift giving
* Legendary gift-bringing figures

*  Etymology:

The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038."Cristes" is from Greek Christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa (the holy mass).

* Celebration:

Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan and Korea, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees.
Notable countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include People's Republic of China, (excepting Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and North Korea.

For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance. In Catholic countries, the people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas.

In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6, Epiphany.

* Date of celebration:

For centuries, Christian writers accepted that Christmas was the actual date on which Jesus was born.John Chrysostom preached a sermon in Antioch c. 386 which established the date of Christmas as December 25 on the Julian calendar.

In the early 18th century, scholars began proposing alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the winter solstice, which the Romans called bruma and celebrated on December 25.

In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a "paganization" that debased the true church.


However, today, whether or not the birth date of Jesus is on December 25 is not considered to be an important issue among mainstream Christian denominations; rather, celebrating the coming of God into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary meaning of Christmas.

* Commemorating Jesus’ birth:

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecy.The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus' birth. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.

According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals, though neither the stable nor the animals are specifically mentioned in the Biblical accounts. However, a manger is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states, "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child.

The Gospel of Matthew also describes a visit by several Magi, or astrologers, who bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus. The visitors ,the Three Wise Men: Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar,were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews.The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.

Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions. In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve.

* Decorations

From pre-Christian times, people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter.

Christians incorporated such customs in their developing practices. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be "decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green". The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.

The traditional colors of Christmas are green and red.White, silver and gold are also popular. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter.

From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain. By the 1870s, people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments

Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures.

Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels.
Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places. It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts.
In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5.

* Music and carols:

The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal folk songs sung during celebrations such as "harvest tide" as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols began to be sung in church. Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns, and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. Some carols like "Personent hodie", "Good King Wenceslas", and "The Holly and the Ivy" can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages. They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung.

Martin Luther, wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship. English reformer Charles Wesley understood the importance of music to worship. In addition to setting many psalms to melodies he wrote texts for at least three Christmas carols. The best known was entitled "Hark! "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing".

Completely secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late 18th century. "Deck The Halls" dates from 1784, and the American, "Jingle Bells" was copyrighted in 1857.

* Food:

Christmas pudding

A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday's celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country.

* Some regions, such as Sicily, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served.

* In England and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose, meat, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies and fruit cake.

* In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served.

* In Germany, France and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world.

* The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan, a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season.

* Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes.

The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods.

* Christmas Cards:

Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. The traditional greeting reads "wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year", much like that of the first commercial Christmas card, produced by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843.

Some prefer cards with a poem, prayer or Biblical verse; while others distance themselves from religion with an all-inclusive "Season's greetings".

* Stamps:

A number of nations have issued commemorative stamps at Christmastime. Postal customers will often use these stamps to mail Christmas cards, and they are popular with philatelists. These stamps are regular postage stamps, unlike Christmas seals, and are valid for postage year-round.

* Gift giving:

The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making the Christmas season the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world.

* Legendary gift-bringing figures:

Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas, considered by many to be the original Santa Claus.A number of figures of both Christian and mythical origin have been associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.

The most famous and pervasive of these figures in modern celebration worldwide is Santa Claus, a mythical gift bringer, dressed in red, whose origins have diverse sources. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of Children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.

Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop's attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. 

The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular in New York.

Photo source : internet


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