The end of December has long been the time of joy and celebration in Europe and many other parts of the world. Even before the arrival of the man, Jesus Christ many people around the world rejoiced in winter solstice by looking forward to the days of sunlight. Today, December 25th is celebrated as Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ as a fulfillment of messianic prophecy in the Old Testament. The roman catholic church chose the date ,25th December to be observed as Christmas on 4th century. Though a Christian holiday, it is now celebrated worldwide by all communities irrespective of religion and is a public holiday. The date of Christmas however has sparked debates among scholars, but it is Isaac Newton who said tat date of Christmas should be in correspondence with winter solstice which Romans called ‘bruma’. Various dates (January 6th,12th etc) was observed as Christmas in many countries before December 25th became fixed and was accepted by roman catholic church. But after reformation the groups such as puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas. But the catholic church refined Christmas and promoted it in a more religious form. Christmas is the largest economic stimulus of many nations around the world.
Origin of Christmas – How December 25th was Chosen
The early Romans observed the week of ‘saturnalia’, a weeklong celebration of lawlessness which was usually observed between dec 18-25. The roman courts will be closed down and the people used to indulge in food and other physical pleasures. (Like singing naked in streets, rapes and other sexual abuse)
In th century, Christian leader succeeded in converting many roman pagans to Christianity by promising them they could continue to celebrate saturnalia as Christians. However saturnalia was so meaningless that it had nothing to do with real Christian principles. As a remedy for this the Christian leader tried to refine their practices and named saturnalia’s concluding day, Dec 25, as Christmas. However they hardly succeeded in refining saturnalia. Many scholars view this as the beginning of Christmas celebration even though saturnalia had nothing to do with Christmas and its principles.
Origin of Christmas Customs
As the early Christians were mainly roman pagans who associated Christmas with their festival saturnalia they were worshippers of ‘Asheira cult’ and this ritual later were sanctioned by the church as ‘Christmas trees’
In ancient Rome, the emperors forced their citizens to bring them offering and presents during saturnalia. Later this got an element of joyful gift giving and a flavor of Christianity.
The first Christmas hymns appeared in Rome in 4th century. Then in later 9th century “Christmas prose” was introduced in north European monasteries. By the 13th century under the authority of Francis of Assisi some popular Christian songs based on Christmas and life of Jesus was developed in countries like Germany, France and Italy. The fist English Christmas carol appeared in the year 1426 in the work of John Awdlay. But it was much later that carols began to be sung in church. After the reformation period in the countries where protestant churches gained reputation, carols began to get popular among common people.
Santa Claus also known as Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas is the most popular figure among the customs of Christmas. He has both historical as well as folkloric aspect. He is believed to bring gifts during the Christmas Eve for children. Santa Claus or uncle Santa is generally portrayed as a plump white bearded man in red and white dress. According to tradition Santa Claus refers to Saint Nicholas who was born in ‘parara’, turkey. He later became the bishop of Myra and was named saint only in 19th century.
Famous Christmas Quotes
“This is the message of Christmas, we are never alone’’ – taylor cadwel
‘A Christmas candle is a lovely thing, it makes no noise at all but softly burns itself away ‘– Eva logue
‘Only in souls the Christ is brought to birth, and there he lives and dies’ –alfred noyes
‘Mankind is a great, immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas’. – pope john XXIII
‘The message of Christmas is that the visible material world is bound to the invisible spiritual world’ – author unknown
‘Christmas is not a time or season but a state of mind .to cherish peace and goodwill ‘– calvin Coolidge