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Christmas Day, History, Importance, and prevailing beliefs

Christmas Day, History, Importance, and prevailing beliefs

Christmas Day, a Christian festival celebrated on 25 December marks the birthday of Jesus. The English word Christmas (“Mass on Christ’s day”) has come into vogue much more recently. The earlier word Yule may be derived from the Germanic Jol or Anglo-Saxon Jol, which refers to the winter solstice festival.

Related words in other languages—Navidad in Spanish, Natale in Italian, noël in French—all probably refer to the birth of Jesus. The German word Weihnachten means “holy night”. Since the early 20th century, Christmas has also been a secular family holiday, celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike, devoid of Christian elements, and marked by an increasingly elaborate exchange of gifts.

In this secular Christmas celebration, a mythical character named Santa Claus plays an important role. This year Christmas was celebrated on Sunday, December 25, 2022.

Origin and development of Christmas

The early Christian community made a distinction between the recognition of the date of Jesus’ birth and the religious celebration of that event. The confession of the day Jesus was born was a long time coming. In particular, during the first two centuries of Christianity, there was strong opposition to the recognition of the birthdays of the martyrs or the birthday of Jesus. Many Church Fathers made sarcastic comments about the pagan practice of celebrating birthdays, when in fact saints and martyrs should be honored on the day of their martyrdom—their true “birthdays” from the Church’s point of view.

The reason for specifying 25 December as the date of birth of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament makes no reference to this. December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date. A widespread explanation of the origin of the Date is that December 25 was the Christianization of the dying Solis Invicti Nati (“Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun”), a celebrated holiday in the Roman Empire that symbolized the winter solstice.

Announcing the resurrection of the sun, the driving away of winter, and the return of spring and summer. Indeed, after 25 December became widely accepted as the date of Jesus’ birth, Christian writers often made a connection between the rebirth of the Sun and the birth of the Son. One of the difficulties with this view is that it suggests an unwillingness on the part of the Christian church to appropriate a pagan festival when the early church disagreed with pagan practices and practices and kept itself aloof from it.

There is also a second view that December 25 became the date of Jesus’ birth from an a priori argument that identified the vernal equinox as the date of the creation of the world and the fourth day of creation, when the light was created, as the day of Jesus. In ‘ Conception (i.e., March 25). December 25, nine months later, became the date of Jesus’ birth. For a long time, the birth of Jesus was celebrated along with his baptism, which was celebrated on 6 January.

In the 9th century, Christmas became widely celebrated with a specific liturgy but did not achieve the same liturgical importance as Good Friday or Easter, the other two major Christian holidays. Roman Catholic churches celebrate the first Christmas Mass at midnight, and Protestant churches hold a Christmas candlelight service late in the evening of 24 December. Garden of Eden for the coming of Christ. E.W. The service, inaugurated by Benson and adopted at the University of Cambridge, has become widely popular.

Contemporary customs prevalent in the west

None of the contemporary Christmas customs have their origins in theological or literary confirmation, and most are of recent date. The Renaissance humanist Sebastian Brandt recorded the custom of placing branches of fir trees in homes in Das Narenschiff (1494; The Ship of Fools). Although nothing is clear about the origin and prevalence of the Christmas tree, it is estimated that fir trees decorated with apples first appeared in Strasbourg in 1605.

The first use of candles on such trees is recorded by a Silesian duchess in 1611. Advent wreaths—made of fir branches with four candles—representing the four Sundays of the Advent season—are more recent, especially in North America.

 This custom, which began in the 19th century but has its earliest roots in the 16th century, originally consisted of a pine wreath with 24 candles (24 days before Christmas, starting on 1 December), but the wreath The abundance of candles reduced the number to four.

One such practice is the Advent calendar, which provides 24 openings, each opened on a day beginning on 1 December. According to tradition, the calendar was created in the 19th century by a Munich housewife who was tired of answering endlessly when Christmas arrived. Let us tell you that the first commercial calendar was printed in Germany in 1851. The intense preparation for Christmas that is part of the commercialization of the holiday has blurred the traditional religious distinction between Advent and the Christmas season, as can be seen from the placement of Christmas trees in sanctuaries before December 25.

By the end of the 18th century, the practice of giving gifts to family members was well established. Religiously, the feast day reminded Christians of God’s gift of Jesus to mankind, even as the wise men, or the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem, suggested that Christmas was somehow related to gift-giving.

The practice of gift-giving, which dates from the 15th century, contributed to the idea that Christmas was a secular holiday focused on family and friends. This was one of the reasons why Puritans in Old and New England opposed the celebration of Christmas and were successful in banning its observance in both England and America.

The tradition of celebrating Christmas as a secular family holiday is brilliantly illustrated by many English “Christmas” carols such as “Here We Come A-Wesselling” or “Deck the Halls”. This can also be seen in the custom of sending Christmas cards, which originated in England in the 19th century. Furthermore, in countries such as Austria and Germany, the connection between the Christian festival and the family holiday is made by identifying the Christ Child as the giver of the gift to the family.

  In some European countries, Saint Nicholas appears on his feast day (December 6) bringing modest gifts of candy and other gifts to children. In North America, the pre-Christmas role of the Christian Saint Nicholas was transformed into an increasingly central role of Santa under the influence of the poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (or “Twas the Night Before Christmas”).

Claus as a source of Christmas gifts for the family. While both the name and costume—a version of the bishop’s traditional costume of Santa Claus—reveal his Christian roots, and his role of interrogating children about their past behavior mimics that of St. Nicholas, he is seen as a secular figure. is seen In Australia, where people attend open-air concerts of Christmas carols and have their Christmas dinner on the beach, Santa Claus also wears red swimming trunks and a white beard.

In most European countries, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, December 24, in keeping with the belief that the baby Jesus was born on the night of the 24th. Although, the morning of December 25 has become a time to give each other gifts in North America.

In 17th- and 18th-century Europe, a modest exchange of gifts took place in the early hours of the 25th when families returned home from Christmas Mass. When it became customary to give gifts on the evening of the 24th, the month of Christmas was fixed in the late afternoon of that day.

  The opening of gifts for family as the centrality of the morning of December 25 in North America has led to the virtual end of holding church services on that day, with the exception of Catholic and some Lutheran and Episcopal churches. This a striking illustration of the way social customs influence worship practices.

Given the importance of Christmas as the main festival of Christians, most countries in Europe observe 26 December as the second Christmas holiday. This practice recalls the ancient Christian liturgical belief that the celebration of Christmas, as well as Easter and Pentecost, should last a week. However, the observance of the whole week gradually subsided with an additional holiday on Christmas Day i.e. 25 December and 26 December.

Contemporary Rites in Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy

The Eastern Orthodox Church honors Christmas on 25 December. However, for those who continue to use the Julian calendar for their religious observances, the date corresponds to January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. The churches of the Oriental Orthodox Communion celebrate Christmas in different ways. For example, in Armenia, the first country to accept Christianity as the official state religion, the church uses its own calendar; Let us tell you that the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on 6 January.

In Ethiopia, where Christianity has been home since the 4th century, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church celebrates Christmas on 7 January. Most churches in the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All East celebrate Christmas on 25 December; At the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, however, the Syriac Orthodox celebrate Christmas on 6 January along with the Armenian Apostolic Church. The congregations of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria follow the date of December 25 on the Julian calendar, which corresponds to Khiyaq 29 on the ancient Coptic calendar.

Contemporary customs in other regions

With the spread of Christianity beyond Europe and North America, the celebration of Christmas shifted to non-Western societies throughout the world. In many of these countries, Christians are not the majority of the population, and therefore, the religious holiday has not become a cultural holiday. Christmas customs in these societies often echo Western traditions as people were exposed to Christianity as a religion and cultural artifact of the West.

In South and Central America, unique religious and secular traditions mark the Christmas celebration. In Mexico, in the days before Christmas, Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay is re-enacted, and children try to break a piñata filled with toys and candy. Christmas is a great summer festival in Brazil, which includes picnics, fireworks, and other festivities, as well as a solemn procession of priests to church to celebrate midnight mass.

In some parts of India, the evergreen Christmas tree is replaced with a mango tree or bamboo tree, and houses are decorated with mango leaves and paper strings. Christmas remains largely a Christian holiday and is not otherwise widely celebrated.

Japan serves as an illustration of a different sort. In that predominantly Shintō and Buddhist country, the secular aspects of the holiday—Christmas trees and decorations, even the singing of Christmas songs such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “White Christmas”—are widely observed instead of the religious aspects.

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