The word Christmas comes from Cristes maesse, an early English phrase that means Mass of Christ.
The ord Xmas is sometimes used instead of Christmas. this tradition began in the early Christian church. Greek, X is the first letter of Christ’s name. It was frequently used as a holy symbol.
Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. No one knows the exact date of Christ’ s birth, but most Christians observe Christmas on Dec. 25. On this day, many go to church, where they take part in special religious services. During the Christmas season, they also exchange gifts and decorate their homes with holly, mistletoe, and Christmas trees.
History and Old Observance
The story of Christmas comes chiefly from the Gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew in the New Testament. Accoding to Luke, an angel appeared to shepherds outside the town of Bethlehem and told them of Jesus´ birth. Matthew tells how the wise men, called Magi, followed a bright star that led them to Jesus.
The first mention of the celebration of Christmas occured in AD 336 in an early Roman calendar, which indicates Dec. 25 as the day of observance. This celebration was probably influenced by pagan (unchristian) festivals held at that time. As part of all these celebrations, the people prepared special foods, decorated their homes with greenery, and joined in singing and gift giving. These customs gradually became part of the Christmas celebration.
In the late 300’s Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. By 1100 Christmas had become the most important religious festival in Europe, and Saint Nicholas was a symbol of gift giving in many European countries.
The popularity of Christmas grew until the Reformation, a religious movement of the 1500’s. This movement gave birth to Protestantism. During the Reformation many Christians began to consider Christmas a pagan celebration because it included nonreligiuos customs. during the 1600’s, because of these feelings, Christmas was outlawed in England and in many pats of the English colonies in America. However, people continued to exchange Christmas gifts and soon started to follow the other old customs again.
In the 1800’s 2 more Christmas customs became popular-decorating Christmas trees and sending cards to relatives and friends. In the US Santa Claus replaced Saint Nicholas as the symbol of gift giving.
The celebration of Christmas became increasingly important to many kinds of businesses during the 1900’s.
For most Christians, the Xmas season begins on the Sunday nearest Nov. 30. This day is the feast day of Saint Andrew, one of the 12 apostles of Christ. The nearest Sunday is the first day of Advent, a 4-week period during which Christians prepare for the celebration of Xmas. The word advent means a coming and refers to the coming of Jesus on Xmas Day.
4 candles, one for each Sunday of Advent are placed among brances of a wreath. On the first Sunday, the family lights one candle and joins in prayer. the repeat this ceremony on each Sun. of Advent, lighting one additional candle each time. A large red candle, symbolozing Jesus, is added to the wreath on Christmas Day.
For many Christians, the Xmas season reaches a climax at midight Mass or other religious services on Xmas Eve, Dec. 24. Churches are decorated with candles, lights, evergreen branches and red pointsettias. Most churches also hold services on Xmas Day.
The Xmas season ends on Epiphany, Jan. 6. In Western Christian churches Epiphany celebrates the coming of the Wise Men to the Christ child. Among Eastern Christians this day celebrates Christ’s baptism. Epiphany falls on the 12th day after Xmas.
The custom of giving gifts to relatives and friends on a special day in winter probably began in ancient Rome and northern Europe. In these regions people gave each other small presents as part of their year-end celebrations-
By 1100 Saint Nicholas had become a popular symbol of gift giving in many European countries. According to legend, he brought presents to children on the eve of his feast day, Dec. 6. Nonreligious figures replaced Saint Nicholas in certain countries soon after the Reformation and Dec. 25 became the day for giving gifts.
Today in the US, Santa Claus brings presents to the children.
Both a religious and a secular holiday.
Because it’s a religious holy day, it’s not an official holiday. Evening church services are held. Attention is focused on the nativity scene, while all join in singing carols.
Adults drink eggnog, a drink made of cream, milk, sugar, beaten eggs and brandy or rum.
According to the tale, Santa Claus (see X-mas Day) on C-Eve hitches his 8 reindeers to a sleigh and loads it with presents. He gets pulled through the sky to deliver presents to children all around the world.
In anticipation of Santa’s visit, American children listen to their parents read The Night Before Christmas before they go to bed on Christmas Eve. Clement Moore wrote the poem in 1832.
Long ago each child hung a stocking, or a sock, over the fireplace. Santa entered down the chimney and left candy and presents inside the socks for the children. Today the tradition is carried on, but the socks are now large red sock-shaped fabric bags.
X-mas is traditionally a time of truce on the battlefield.
Christmas Day (FEAST OF NATIVITY)
Both a religious and a secular holiday. The Christians celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
The word Christmas comes from Cristes messe, an early English phrase that means Mass of Christ. The C story comes from the New Testament in the bible. An angel appeared to shepherds and told them that a Savior had been born to Mary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem. Three Wise Men from the East, called Magi, followed a wondrous star that led them to the baby Jesus to whom they paid homage and presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Because it’s a religious holy day, it’s not an official holiday. However, since most Americans are Christian, the day is one on which most businesses are closed and the greatest possible number of workers, including government employees, have the day off. Going home for X-mas is a most cherished tradition. Besides the strictly religious traditions, however, other common X-mas practices are observed by people who are not religious or who are not Christians.
Naturally Christians observe X-mas according to the traditions of their particular church. There are other religious ceremonies at churches which families attend before they male their rounds to visit friends and relatives.
- Greeting cards are sent to friends and families. Became popular in the 1800’s.
- X-mas songs, or carols, are sung and heard all during the holiday season. Became popular in the 1800’s.
- Decorating of homes. Most Americans have a decorated and trimmed X-mas tree, a real evergreen tree or an artificial one, in their homes. Lights and wreaths of evergreen, mistletoe and signs wishing people a Merry X-mas can be found inside and outside of many homes. Became popular in the 1800’s.
- Christmas dinner, often with turkey on the menu. Besides this, many people hold other gala get-togethers just before and after X-mas.
- Santa Claus. The character is derived from old-age stories about an early Christian saint named Nicholas and from the Norse god Odin. Immigrant settlers brought Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas to the US. His name was gradually changed to Santa Claus, from the Dutch name for the 4th century Father Christmas, which is Sinter Claas.
Although he has origins in Norse and pre-Christian mythology, Santa Claus took shape in the US. Americans gave him a white beard, dressed him in a red suit and made him into a cheery old gentleman with red cheeks and a twinkle in his eyes.
He is a mythical man who is said to live at the North Pole, where he makes toys throughout the year.
- Contributions X-mas is also a time when most Americans show great generosity to others less fortunate than they. Money is sent to hospitals or orphanages or to fund that help the poor are made.
- X-mas is traditionally a time of truce on the battlefield.