Everything You Need to Know About Christmas

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What is Christmas? Close Up Photo of Christmas Tree | www.northpolestar.com

Christmas has become a truly American holiday. Many people in the United States celebrate the holiday. In the United States Christmas is celebrated as a day to be with family, eat good food, remember the year gone by, watch football and give gifts to loved ones. The Christmas season has also become important to the economy, with retailers doing a good portion of their business during this time of year. We say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year but why? what does Christmas even mean? Why do we celebrate Christmas?… and so many other questions that we have about Christmas. In this article, we try to answer most of your questions. We have gathered resources to help you dig deeper into the meaning of Christmas and the celebration of Christmas.

Everything You Need to Know About Christmas

What is Christmas?

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, held on December 25 in the Western Church. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

Christians believe on this day God sent his son, Jesus, into the world to be born. They believe his birth brought great joy to the world and Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement of knowing about this great event. But the reality is, no one knows the real birthday of Jesus! No date is given in the Bible! The first official mention of December 25 as a holiday honoring Jesus’ birthday appears in an early Roman calendar from 336 A.D. To this day some people feel uncomfortable with Christmas because for the first three centuries of Christianity’s existence, Jesus Christ’s birth wasn’t celebrated at all! The Bible doesn’t mention his exact birthday, and the Nativity story contains conflicting clues.

For instance, the presence of shepherds and their sheep suggest a spring birth. When church officials settled on December 25 at the end of the third century, they likely wanted the date to coincide with existing pagan festivals honoring Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light). That way, it became easier to convince Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion.

Another theory is early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby (Jesus) was on March 25th and it’s still celebrated today on the 25th March. Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th of December! March 25th was also the day some early Christians thought the world had been made, and also the day that Jesus died on when he was an adult.

Where was Jesus born?

Birth of Jesus is described in the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts differ, but agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod the Great, his mother Mary was married to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention.

What does Merry Christmas mean?

‘Merry Christmas’ is the traditional phrase used during the Christmas season to wish each other. The phrase does not have any religious leaning and racial discrimination. It is used by almost everyone who celebrates Christmas. It connects people, including strangers. It erases anger and acts as a bridge when there are misunderstandings.

Why do we celebrate Christmas?

On December 25th, We celebrate Christmas, but few understand why. We celebrate Christmas because the birth of Jesus Christ is good news. We celebrate Christmas with gift-giving because of the gift that God gave to us. We celebrate Christmas because of Christ, the Son of God, who became a man and willingly sacrificed Himself for the atonement of our sins to save us from a justly deserved, eternal punishment. We are blessed exceedingly by this gift and we want to remember and honor His legacy.

What are Christmas traditions?

From decorating the Christmas tree to leaving cookies for Santa, Christmas traditions offer great ways to enjoy the holiday season. According to Wikipedia: “Christmas traditions vary from country to country. Christmas celebrations for many nations include the installing and lighting of Christmas trees, the hanging of Advent wreaths, Christmas stockings, candy canes, setting out cookies and milk, and the creation of Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas carols may be sung and stories told about such figures as the Baby Jesus, St Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Christkind or Grandfather Frost. The sending and exchange of Christmas card greetings, observance of fasting and special religious observances such as a midnight Mass or Vespers on Christmas Eve, the burning of a Yule log, and the giving and receiving of presents.”

What are the Christmas colors?

The traditional colors of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), Gold and heart red. Green, red and gold may be the traditional festive colors, and will always be evident but blue and white also have joined the party. The color green is associated with the continuation of life through the winter as well as the belief in the eternal life of Jesus. Gold is the color of the Sun and light – both very important in the dark winter. And both red and gold are the colors of fire that you need to keep you warm. The color red was traditionally used to symbolize the blood of Jesus. White is often associated with purity and peace in western cultures. The snow of winter is also very white! The color blue is often associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

What is the symbolism of the Christmas tree?

For many of us, the Christmas Tree is one of the most symbolic images of the holiday season. The tradition of putting trees in homes during wintertime goes back to the pagan times designed as a symbol of life amid the dark and cold winter nights. The Christians had long held the fir as a symbol of the Tree of Life. Early Christians added candles and apples to their Christmas firs. The candles represented the light of Christ and The apples symbolized knowledge which spawned man’s original sin according to Christian belief.

According to time.com “While tree worship was common in pagan Europe, the modern Christmas tree originated with German Lutherans in the 17th century and spread to Pennsylvania in the 1820s after they began to immigrate to the United States. When Germany’s Prince Albert came to England in 1840 to marry Queen Victoria, he brought the Christmas tree with him. The royal family decorated it with small gifts, toys, candles, candies and fancy cakes, giving rise to the modern ornament.”

What is the role of Santa?

Today, Santa Claus is thought of mainly as the jolly man in red who brings toys to good children on Christmas Eve. Two other most popular names for Santa Claus are Kris Kringle and Saint Nick.  Santa Claus popular image is based on traditions associated with Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian saint when he walked the earth and became the patron saint of children. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.

In the United States, Santa Claus is said to live at the North Pole with his wife, where he spends the year making toys with the help of his elves. There he receives letters from children asking for Christmas gifts. On Christmas Eve he loads his magic sleigh (led by his reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and the most famous reindeer of all, Rudolph.) with toys and flies around the world, stopping at each child’s house; he slides down the chimney and leaves the gifts, refreshing himself with the milk and cookies left for him by the household’s children.

Why do we give gifts at Christmas?

The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas has roots that go back as far as the Nativity story, whereupon the Three Wise Men gave gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Gold is associated with Kings and Christians believe that Jesus is the King of Kings, Frankincense is sometimes used in worship in Churches and showed that people would worship Jesus and Myrrh is a perfume that is put on dead bodies to make them smell nice; Christian believe that it showed that Jesus would suffer and die. For Christians, gift-giving at Christmas is a remembrance of that event.

What is a traditional Christmas dinner?

Christmas traditions in the United States have many eclectic origins with those from the United Kingdom predominant, Therefore, the substrate of the meal usually is British in origin. Traditional Christmas dinner features roasted root vegetables as a side dish, mashed potatoes, gravy, and the centerpiece being a stuffed roasted fowl (pheasant, goose, duck, or turkey) or an expensive cut of roasted beef or beef Wellington. For dessert, pumpkin or apple pie, raisin pudding, Christmas pudding, or fruitcake are the staple.

According to Time Magazine, Americans consume an estimated 22 million turkeys on Christmas. They also purchase an estimated 318 million pounds of ham around the holidays.

What time do you eat on Christmas Day?

Christmas dinner can take place any time from the evening of Christmas Eve to the evening of Christmas Day itself.  Some people strongly believe it should be eaten between 1 pm and 3 pm, but others have it as late as 9 pm.

References:

  1. https://www.gotquestions.org/why-celebrate-Christmas.html
  2. https://www.history.com/news/why-is-christmas-celebrated-on-december-25
  3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
  4. https://www.gominno.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-christmas
  5. https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/real-meaning-christmas
  6. https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/what-is-christmas-understanding-the-history-and-origin.html
  7. https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/25th.shtml
  8. https://answersingenesis.org/answers/biblical-authority-devotional/why-do-we-celebrate-christmas/
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_traditions
  10. https://www.symbolic-meanings.com/2007/12/05/symbolic-meaning-of-christmas-tree-a-brief-summary/
  11. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2037505,00.html
  12. https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus
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