Christmas is an annual festival celebrated by the Christians throughout the world, primarily on 25th December. It is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is the most significant festival of Christians and is celebrated with exceptional zeal and enthusiasm.
In 2019, Christmas will be celebrated on Wednesday 25th December 2019.
When is Christmas Celebrated?
Though, Christmas is primarily celebrated on December 25th in many countries, some do celebrate the festival on the evening of 24th.
While the countries where older Julian calendar is followed, celebrate Christmas on 7th January. Russia, Serbia and Ukraine follow older Julian calendar.
As there is no specific date of Jesus birthday mentioned in any religious texts, people celebrate Christmas based on their local beliefs and traditions.
Origin of Christmas
The ancient Christian community didn’t commemorated or celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. During the initial years of Christianity, priests rejected the celebration of birthday of martyrs or for that matter, Jesus.
They were of the opinion that martyrs should be honored on the day of their martyrdom, which would a true tribute to them. Easter was the main holiday celebrated by the Christian community much before Christmas.
There is infact no evidence to suggest the reason for observing the festival on 25th December. The first ever mention of December 25th was made by a Christian Historian – Sextus Julius Africanus in a universal chronology that he produced in 221st century. Thus, 25th December became a universally accepted date of the birth of Jesus Christ.
However, many Churches have accepted the date of 25th December based on the local festivals that were celebrated on the date.
History of Christmas
Christmas is being celebrated since ages, in one form or the other. Ancient Europeans were celebrating a festival around the same time of the year, even before the birth of Jesus Christ. The festival was celebrated to mark the winter solstice; ending winter and welcoming sunny days.
Families burnt huge pyre constituting of woods extracted from the forest. They sat and feasted around the fire, which was allowed to burn for days. In Europe, December was the month when cattle were slaughtered, providing the residents with a supply of fresh meat. Also, it was the time of the year when beer and wine was finally ready for consumption after fermentation.
Romans celebrated a festival in the honour of their agriculture God Saturn, around December. Again the festival commenced on winter solstice and was celebrated for a month after it. It was the time of the year when food was in plenty and there was also abundance of beer and wine.
Thus, with the passage of time, this European custom of feasting and celebrating spread to Egypt in around 432 century and thereafter to England.
How is Christmas Celebrated
During the initial days Christmas celebrations began with people going to the churches and praying Jesus for blessings. People would dance, feats and drink in a carnival like fashion, a custom still followed at some places. The poor would go the houses of rich and demand best food and wine. It was and still is considered a time to pay back to the society by feeding and helping the poor.
Modern day celebrations however have become more pompous and expensive. The main activity of today’s celebrations is the decoration. People decorate their houses, rooms, parking and what not. They decorate with lights and other articles especially purchased for the purpose.
The shopping for Christmas begins well in advance of the main festival. Clothes, toys, foods everything is bought in plenty to make the celebration a grand event.
Christmas tree is one of the main attractions during the Christmas celebration. Children could be seen shopping for Christmas tree with family and friends. Every Christian house has a Christmas tree well illuminated and covered with gifts, chocolates and surprises for the children.
Mouthwatering cakes and other delicacies are prepared in houses. Aroma of delicious cakes prevails in the atmosphere. People burn huge pyre in midnight and celebrated by feasting and dancing around it. Christmas songs are sung and the celebrations continue till dawn. However, the feasting and other celebrations continue for weeks or sometimes even months.
Significance/Importance of Christmas
Christmas is a festival of joy, primarily celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, a much revered Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the most important figure in Christianity and forms the basis of the religion.
Christians consider him as the incarnation of God, who was sent to help the poor, needy and suppressed. Thus, the festival reaffirms the faith of Christian community in their beloved God.
The festival marks the end of painful winter in the west and the beginning of longer sunny hours. It gives a reason to celebrate in wake of abundance of food and prosperity.
Another most important significance of Christmas is that it is not an isolated family event, but is rather celebrated as a get together. Family, friends, relatives and neighbours, dine and dance together, rejoicing in the festivities. No one is left alone and everyone is made a part of the celebrations.
It is the time of the year when the rich and affluent pay back to the society from which they have gained, by helping and feeding the poor. Families those have abundance of food and other comforts, make no hesitation in donating to the poor or needy. Even individuals or families with marginal income make the donations as per their capacities.