Christmas is an annual festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, on December 25.
Updated: September 24, 2018
Christmas is an annual festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, on December 25. It is as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the countries and is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians. Although the month and date of birth of Jesus are unknown, by the early-to-mid fourth century the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25. This date that was later adopted in the East.
Today, most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. Christians, believe that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity. So this reason is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas rather than the exact birth date.
The customs of celebration associated in various countries with Christmas have a mixure of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, viewing a Nativity play, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal and pulling Christmas crackers. This also include the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, figures are associated with Christmas such as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind brings gifts to children during the Christmas season. The holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses as gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity.
The special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green in London. The heart shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.
The traditional colors of Christmas decorations are red, green, and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter, and gold is the first color associated with Christmas, as one of the three gifts of the Magi, symbolizing royalty.
The Christmas tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments. On Christmas, the Christ Candle in the center of the Advent wreath is traditionally lit in many church services.
Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas display. The concentric assortment of leaves, usually from an evergreen, make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare Christians for the Advent season. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world.
Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places. A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday's celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Special desserts such as Christmas pudding, mince pies, fruit cake and Yule log cake are also prepared.
Spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon are often added. The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg. Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. The exchanging of gifts such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration