Christmas is finally here and it has brought with it the joys of the holiday season. Christmas, which is one of the most pious days for Christians, is the religious and the cultural celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Every year, it is celebrated on December 25. On this day people gather in large numbers with family and friends to commemorate the birth and also remember the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. Christmas season is the ideal time to spread the words of Jesus and celebrate the occasion with merriment and mirth.
Christmas is one of the most popular festivals celebrated by Christians across the world. It is the festival which is celebrated worldwide in more than 160 countries of the world. It is basically the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the man who is known as “The Son of God”. The name “Christmas” from the Mass of Christ. A mass service is conducted in which it is believed that Jesus has died for the people and he will come back to life. The service was known as “Christ-Mass” and was allowed to take place only after Sunset. So, people started calling it Christmas and started celebrating it in the evening or at midnight.
Christmas, for the first three centuries of Christianity's existence, was not celebrated on 25th December. In fact, there was no certain day so people celebrated it as per their personal beliefs. It was in 336 AD that the Christmas celebrations were first recorded on December 25 during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine. After a few years, Pope Julius I declared that the birth of Jesus would finally be celebrated on December 25.
Other countries that don’t celebrate Christmas: Vietnam, Somalia, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Iraq, China, Congo, Algeria, Yemen, Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates, Libya, Iran, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Oman, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Bhutan, Nepal, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Tunisia and Afghanistan.
Eight (no Rudolph!)
A Visit from St. Nicholas
The first Christmas card was sent in 1843 and was designed by John Horsley.
Saint Nick and Kris Kringle
The tradition of exchanging gifts basically exists since ancient times. As per popular beliefs, gifts are exchanged to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the wise men – Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Also, in modern times it is interpreted as a custom of showing gratitude and love to your loved ones. Also, this reminds people of serving humanity from time to time.
The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back to around 280 AD in Turkey. It is associated to a monk named St. Nicholas. The man whom we know as a happy jolly man dressed in red with a long beard was not always this way. There is a legend behind the existence of Santa Claus. There was a Saint named Nicholas who was well-known because of his piety and kind nature. It is said that whatever wealth Nicholas inherited he traveled along the countryside and donated it to the poor and sick. There are several stories depicting his helpful nature. One of them is the story of three sisters whom Nicholas prevented from going into prostitution by helping them arrange the money for the dowry. Even today all his legends are alive in the hearts of people and Saint Nicholas is still the most popular saint in Europe.
After Saint Nicholas served the people of Europe it is said that he made his inroad towards America. At the end of 18th century, Saint Nicholas arrived in America. He was called Sint Nikolas and Sinter Klass by local people because which finally the final name evolved as Santa Claus. Since that time “Santa Claus” started existing.
It is said that ancient people celebrated winter festivals such as Saturnalia, by decorating their homes with evergreen fir trees or branches to commemorate the arrival of spring, a time when winter would come to an end and the Sun God would finally appear. The tradition of the Christmas tree as we know today, probably has its origins in 16th century Germany, when Martin Luther, awed by the beauty of stars shining among evergreen trees at night, brought a tree in his home and lighted it with candles. Another German legend goes that Saint Boniface cut an oak tree to stop a group of pagans from sacrificing a young boy. To his surprise, a fir tree sprang from the oak tree which was a sign of Christianity for the saint.
His followers then lighted it with candles so that he could preach to the pagans at night. There is yet another German legend about the Christmas tree according to which a poor boy turned into Jesus, the Christ Child on Christmas morning after being given shelter by a family. The boy gave a fir tree branch to the family as a way of saying thanks. With the publication of a sketch of Queen Victoria and her family standing around a Christmas tree in 1846, this tradition became more popular in UK and USA.
Ancient Romans hung wreaths on their doors as signs of victory. The origins of the Advent wreath seems to be during the 16th century when pre-Christian Germans made wreaths out of evergreens which was a sign of eternal life, to commemorate the coming of spring. The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes God who has no beginning or end.
Christmas carols were originally pagan songs sung by the Early Europeans during their winter solstice celebrations. Early Christians replaced pagan songs with Christmas hymns (religious songs), written and sung in Latin. In 1223 in Italy, Christmas carols became popular through the Nativity plays of St. Francis of Assisi. As opposed to Latin, they were in a language that was understood by most people, which is the reason why carols spread to other European countries. Although their popularity declined during the Puritan movement in the 16th century, they became famous again in the mid-18th century.
The idea of gift giving during Christmas originated as a result of The Three Wise Men/Magi presenting gifts to baby Jesus upon his birth. Presents are sometimes kept in Christmas stockings that are hung by a fireplace or in boots, and under the Christmas tree, to be opened on Christmas morning. Moreover, the gift bringer (mostly known as Santa Claus) has different names/characters in different countries. For instance, ‘Christkind’ in Austria, ‘Kerstman’ in Netherlands, ‘Papa Noel’ in Argentina and Bolivia, etc.
It is a Christian tradition to attend a ‘Midnight Mass’ on Christmas Eve as Jesus Christ is believed to be born at night. Today, we even see non-Christians attending this Mass, to be a part and get a glimpse of traditional Christmas celebrations. Besides these common Christmas beliefs and customs, there are also traditions specific to countries. For instance, in Greece, gifts are exchanged on St. Basil’s Day on January 1 and at Christmas, gifts are mainly given to the needy. The Spanish have a special Christmas dance called ‘Jota’, the Irish believe in keeping mince pies and Guinness (a kind of Irish beer) out for Santa – to refresh him on his journey, and in Japan, traditional Christmas cuisine includes Kentucky Fried Chicken! There are unusual and bizarre customary beliefs about Christmas as different people have their own ways of celebrating Christmas but everywhere, the feeling of spreading joy and warmth remains the same. Wish you a very heartwarming Christmas!
The tradition of making Christmas cakes is as old as Christmas itself, and therefore it is very difficult to pin down on any one Christmas cake recipe and declare it most authentic. Christmas cake recipes are a lot like family heirlooms, passed on from one generation to the other with strict adherence to the intricacies involved. In all honesty, it has to be said that there are hundreds of Christmas cake recipes, each more delectable than the other!
However, allow me to be a bit theatrical, the search for a perfect Christmas cake recipe can be rather illuminating. You best bet is to try as many recipes of the old school as you like and then narrow down on the one which you most like. Or, if you like, be original and create an authentic Christmas cake recipe of your own. For those of you’ll who are just itching to try out a good traditional Christmas cake recipe, here’s one. This is an excellent Christmas cake recipe passed down through many generations. Originates from Tring in Hertfordshire, England. It is traditionally served at Christmas teatime.
This cake is rather simple to prepare and the ingredients can be changed depending on what is more easily available.Ingredients
Here's how to say "Merry Christmas" in different languages:
|Merry Christmas||In Different Languages|
|Chinese||聖誕快樂 (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè)|
|Vietnamese||Giáng Sinh vui vẻ|
|Korean||성탄을 축하드려요 (Meli keuliseumaseu)|
|Arabic||عَيد ميلاد مَجيد (ʿīd mīlād majīd)|