What is Christmas?
Christmas is the most famous day of the year – Known as a religious anniversary, it is a lot more than a time to get together with family and exchange presents. Christmas is all about the wealth of traditions, folklore and history – most of which are so deeply rooted in our consciousness that we observe them without thinking.
Christmas trees, bells ringing, decorated shops and streets are all the things that would come to your mind when you think of Christmas. After all, it is one of the most significant holidays, just a few days shy of New Year’s Eve.
Christmas is celebrated annually on 25th December to celebrate the birthday of the Son of God in Christianity, namely Jesus Christ.
But how did Christmas come to be celebrated in such a manner?
The Origins of Christmas
What is so enchanting about Christmas that it is celebrated by billions of people all over the world? Since Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, it is considered both a religious and a cultural holiday. Religiously it is celebrated by Christians, but the celebratory vibe has appealed and attracted even the non-Christian population.
According to the Christmas narrative foretold in the New Testament, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, a city located in the West Bank of Palestine. The parents of Jesus Christ, Joseph, and Mary, had arrived in Bethlehem, but the only hotel available was out of rooms. So the owner offered them a stable, where the birth of Christ took place. The news of his birth spread through angels who passed it on to the shepherds.
But this still doesn’t explain why the date is fixed to 25th December.
Fixing the Date to 25th December
Even though no one ever got to know the actual birth date of Jesus Christ, 25th December is still considered his birthday. The secret lay in the 4th century when the church proclaimed 25th December as Christ’s birthday. Apparently, it is believed that the date was kept in such a way that it coincided with the winter solstice (when Earth’s poles are the furthest away from the Sun) in the Roman calendar. The justification was given by Saint Augustine, who stated that when Christ was born, it was on the shortest day of the Earth, and after that, the length of the days began increasing. Hence, 25th December is a fitting day.
You would be surprised to know that some Eastern Christian Churches celebrated Christmas according to the old Julian calendar, where the date falls on 7th January in the Gregorian calendar.
Naming the holiday ‘Christmas.’
The term Christmas means Christ’s mass. The term derives from the 1038 word known as ‘Cristemaesse’ where ‘Crist’ was a Greek term taken from the Hebrew word ‘Messiah,’ and ‘maesse’ is a Latin term which means the Eucharist’s celebration. Now for those who aren’t aware of a Eucharist, let’s just say it is a Christian rite that is believed to be a ritual imparting divine grace in most churches. The New Testament state that Jesus Christ imparted this rite.
In other regions and groups, such as with the Anglo-Saxons, Christmas is known as a mid-winter feast or rarely as ‘Natiuiteo’ from the nativity, meaning birth.
Christmas Celebrations Observed in the United States of America
Different brands and stories start introducing Christmas edition products such as The Body Shop’s limited edition Warm Vanilla Gift sets (Amazon ASIN #B08G2JWW5M) from the beginning of November. Families start to purchase Yule trees decorated with Christmas ornaments such as candy canes, colorful Christmas balls (Amazon ASIN #B094VH3MKV), and fairy lights to make the Christmas tree look festive. The top of the Yule tree is decorated with a giant star with an indoor light (Amazon ASIN #B00413FBYC).
The importance of the Christmas tree can be judged by the fact that it is the only way to know when a region is celebrating Christmas since it is the focal point of any place.
Besides that, gift-giving is an important aspect of a Christmas celebration, and it usually begins two months before the festival arrives. There is a folk tale told to Children that Santa Claus comes and drops their gifts through the chimney to land under the Christmas tree a night before. The Santa Claus is another important feature of this celebration on which popular media depiction is heavily dependent. The Santa Claus would arrive bearing gifts on his ride pulled by a pack of deer soaring through the sky at night.
The Inclusion of the Christmas tree
The specific Yule trees that are always chosen to be decorated as Christmas tree is due to a reason. This evergreen fir tree has a history of coming into use to celebrate winter festivals from the time of the Pagans. Apparently, in the pagan tradition, the branches were used to decorate their homes for the winter solstice because it made them think of the coming spring season.
Even though no one had pinpointed the exact time when Yule trees became synonymous with Christmas, the tradition emerged from Northern Europe.
In the beginning, Christmas trees used to be hung upside down from the ceiling with the help of ropes and chains to imitate a chandelier. However, there are substitutes of Yule trees that were also sued, such as cherry and hawthorn plants in the early eras.
Our Final Thoughts
Christmas is that time of the year when you get to celebrate winter with a festive vibe amidst your close family and friends. It is also believed to be a time when wishes come true, and people witness good fortune, or they’re happily ever after. History has taught us that a Christmas tree does not have to be a Yule tree; if you look closely and search for an evergreen pine tree that looks similar, it would also do the job for you. The next time you go gift hunting, try getting something that your loved one or family has always wished for just to make them feel ecstatic on Christmas morning.
So we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!