Christmas is considered one of the grandest and holiest events in the Christian community. Though it wasn’t celebrated much in ancient times, the festival gained importance sooner in the early 19th and 20th centuries.
Christmas or X-mas is celebrated every year on December 25 and marks the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. It is believed that Mother Mary, who was Christ’s mother, was instructed by God that she will bear a child in her womb for the next nine months and call him Jesus, the son of God.
He also told her that Jesus will become the savior of humanity and it is to celebrate his divine presence that Christmas is celebrated.
Christmas Day History
As per traditions, it is believed that Jesus Christ, the son of God was born on the day of Christmas. The truth is, no one knows when exactly was Jesus born or where he was born. In The New Testament of the Holy Bible, apostles Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John cite the same but they never say the exact date of his birth!
The birth of Jesus has been debated for two reasons, one being that the church wanted to connect his birth with the rebirth of the sun, and thus at the winter equinox, and second, they link his birth to December 25 exactly nine months after she was told by God that she will give birth to him on March 25, so this makes sense nine months later!
The church had also appointed Christ’s baptismal date as of January 6 and the date for Christmas but later in the 9th-century, Christmas was only a minor holiday.
The Europeans came out with various traditions and customs of Christmas by the middle-ages which are followed even today. It was in Strasbourg that people started decorating apple trees. And by the 17th and 18th-centuries, people started exchanging gifts as a symbol of Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem to shower baby Jesus with gifts.
During the 19th-century, 24 candle wreaths were decorated representing the 24 days before Christmas. They were later reduced to 4 candles. Gradually, the Christmas celebrations started spreading beyond Europe in North and Latin America and other parts of the world!
Celebrated throughout the world on December 25, Christmas, also known as the Feast of Nativity has a cultural as well as religious significance. The word ‘Christmas’ has a literal meaning of ‘mass on Christ’s day.
Countries around the globe have named it differently. For instance, in Germany, it is called ‘Yuletide’, derived from the German word ‘jol’ or the Anglo-Saxon word ‘geol’. In Spanish, it is called ‘Navidad’, in Italian, it is called ‘Natale’, and ‘Noel’ in French!
With Christ being the symbol of all divinity, this day is a reminder of his immense sacrifice for mankind and his teachings to be a nobleman. It is believed that God had sent his son Jesus to the world to save humans from all evils and this day marks the birth of God’s son!
How is Christmas Celebrated?
From singing Christmas carols to exchanging gifts and decorating the Christmas trees, this festival is full of delight. And who doesn’t know Santa Claus? Mr. Claus is one figure who is awaited by millions of children across the globe! Though he is an imaginary figure, there are many who still believe in him and wait for him to visit them on Christmas Eve and leave presents under the Christmas Tree!
There are so many rituals that are followed on this day, the first being attending church on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas day to celebrate the coming of the Jesus of Nazareth!
Decorating the house with twinkling lights, decking up the Christmas tree with bells and balls, having grand meals with friends and family, Christmas is a joyous moment to be celebrated with great fervor and zest! One significant delicacy of this festival is the Christmas cake which is absolutely delicious!
The festival also commemorates the end of the running year and the coming of New Year, meaning the coming of new beginnings! Christmas strengthens the bond of families together as they visit each other to celebrate the Holy festival.
During Christmas, we see cities beautifully decorated with lights and Christmas trees all around and we could hear the mass throughout the city with loudspeakers installed everywhere. The roads are decked up with everything shimmery and shiny and we certainly get that holiday feels!
Apart from all this, children also perform the Christmas skit in schools, where they depict the whole story of Jesus’ birth, right from the message of God to Mary to his birth!
Who is Santa Claus?
The mythical figure of Santa Claus, is the highlight of this festive season of Christmas. Santa Claus is also referred to as Kris Kringle, he is known to be the traditional patron of Christmas all around the world.
His image has been derived from Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century saint and is believed to live in the North Pole with elves, who are known to be his helpers. The ancient faith believes that Santa Claus watches over the children of the world and keeps a check as to who has been nice throughout the year so he showers them with presents on Christmas.
He also has a sleigh on which he rides from the North Pole which his reindeers ride and he visits every house on Christmas Eve, giving gifts to children.
The Christmas tree has its roots back in ancient Rome and Egypt and continues to grow as the German tradition of Christmas trees decorated with lit candles came out in America in the 1800s.
It was in the early 20th-century that America started decorating the Christmas trees with homemade ornaments and with lights glowing for days. After this, Christmas started being decorated at town squares every year, bringing home the Christmas spirit!
Now-a-days, people get a plethora of accessories to decorate the Christmas tree with. From bells to balls to reindeers to starts, there are many options for you to deck up your tree like a charmer!
- Every year, around 30-35 million real Christmas trees are on sale in only the US. Around 21,000 growers are there of Christmas tree in America.
- The Christmas tree is generally grown up for at least 15 years and only then it is sold.
- The festival of Christmas was also cancelled from 1659-1681 in Boston, and people were fined five shillings if they didn’t follow the rule.
- You must have heard about Rudolph-the red-nosed reindeer who had a very shiny nose! He was actually a fictional reindeer by Robert Lewis. He is said to be Santa’s youngest and ninth reindeer!
- The US declared Christmas as a federal holiday in the year 1870 on June 26.
- In Dutch, Santa Claus is called Sinterklass.
- The English custom wassailing is the propagator of the tradition of carolling.
- Alabama in the US was the first state to declare the Christmas holiday in 1836, followed by Okhlahoma in 1907.