Christmas is the festival celebrated to commemorate Jesus Christ’s birth is celebrated worldwide by Christians and non- Christians alike. Christmas is a festival of joy, rejoicing and a festival of giving. Christmas as a deep spiritual symbolism as it is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ, a personification of divinity. Jesus Christ was born to save this world from the evils that prevailed at that time, and was said to have strived to help people transform their lives and turn away from evil, thus bringing about a new dawn. It is this aspect, the glimmer of hope, the light that banishes away darkness that is celebrated during Christmas.
While Christmas is celebrated on 25th of December, the exact birth date of the Lord Jesus Christ is unknown, with some historians pegging his birth between 7th and 2nd BC. The date on which Christmas is celebrated could have been chosen to correspond either with the Roman winter solstice or with an ancient pagan festival. Christmas day marks the start of the Christmastide season that lasts for 12 days, hence the 12 days of Christmas.
Some of the popular customs and traditions that are associates with Christmas include those of exchanging of gifts, decorating the Christmas tree, attending church on Christmas eve and Christmas morning, Christmas dinner with family and friends and Santa Claus delivering presents for children. Let’s take a brief look at some of these customs and Christmas traditions and how they have evolved into the modern customs that we follow during the Christmas season.
There is a long history of the use of decorations during the Christmas festival. In earlier pre-Christian times, the Romans decorated their houses with evergreen plants during winter, decorating with greenery and plants have been a Jewish tradition as well. Early Christians incorporated these traditions into their religion. The use of nativity scenes dates back to Rome in the 10th century AD, this tradition spread across Europe, various decorations evolved based on pre-Christian traditions and resources that were available to people locally.
Christmas decorations as we know were seen in the early 1800’s. Decorations add to the fun and color of Christmas, with the entire family getting together to decorate their house and Christmas tree. Some families prize their decorations that have been handed down from one generation to the other as family heirlooms.
Colours of Christmas
Christmas is traditionally associated with the colours green, red, white, silver and gold. Of these colours, red symbolizes the bold of Jesus Christ that was shed to save mankind at the cross, the colour green symbolizes the gift of eternal life, and the colour white symbolizes light, purity and joy, while the colour gold symbolizes sunlight and radiance.
The Christmas tree is by far the most popular symbol of Christmas, with every house that celebrates Christmas having their own Christmas tree. Children are especially thrilled at having a Christmas tree at home as they get to decorate the Christmas tree with lights and ornaments and also find presents laid out below the tree on Christmas morning.
The concept of the Christmas tree has evolved from a pagan tradition that surrounded the winter solstice, which involved the worship of evergreen trees and evergreen boughs. The modern Christmas tree is said to have evolved in the 18th century in Germany, from where the tradition was introduce to England by Queen Charlotte.
Christmas dinner is a special meal that is shared with family and friends and is eaten either on Christmas eve or Christmas day, the Christmas dinner has traditionally been an abundant feast comprising of food that include roast turkey, chicken, beef, ham, or pork; stuffing, squash, roasted potatoes, vegetables, brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes. The Christmas dinner also includes desserts like pumpkin pie, Christmas pudding, trifle, marzipan, pfeffernusse, sugar cookies, fruitcake, apple pie, mince pies and sweet potato pie.
The custom of exchanging gifts on Christmas forms a core aspect of Christmas as we see it today. The custom of giving gifts dates back to the Roman empire where gift giving was common during the celebration of the Roman Festival of Saturnalia, which was celebrated in December. However there is also a rationale to this custom where it is said to have sprung up on the basis of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the Magi.
One of the most popular figures associated with Christmas is that of Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Father Christmas is also known
by various names depending on the geographical location, these names include Père Noël, the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.
Santa Clause is a mythical gift bearer who is dressed up in white and red and is known for his care for children and generosity in giving gifts.
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