Well decorated Christmas tree, the plum cakes, carols, gifts and Santa Claus, yes they all mark Christmas. One of the largest secular festivals that have an intense religious origin.
True Meaning of Christmas
The Christian celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago each year on 25th December. While the day has interesting stories and amazing facts!! for the worlds most commercial, religious event.
It’s surprising to know that the 25th December was not always celebrated Christmas in Christianity. In fact, the early Christians never celebrated Christmas. The Bible does not speak a thing about 25th December and also the early Christian scholars could not even agree on the exact birthday of Jesus.
It was only in the 3rd century that December 25th was decided as the Christmas festival and most likely because it coincided with the already existing pagan festivals. Pope Julius, I chose December 25. The Christmas now celebrated worldwide was also once a punishable offense!! Yes in 1644 the Massachusetts legislature fined 5 shillings to anyone celebrating Christmas. A huge amount back then!!
When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, canceled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.
The Christmas celebration didn’t begin until 1800 when Prince Albert of Germany brought his country’ s old tradition of decorating evergreen trees to England after his marriage to Queen Victoria.
The Meaning of Christmas
When the picture of the royal family next to a 40ft decorated Christmas tree was published in 1848, it became a trend and was followed even in the US. The tradition of Christmas card also started at the same time in Europe.
However, the tradition of gifting is old and has religious significance its, believed that the baby Jesus was visited by the three Kings and the Kings brought with them many gifts for the baby Jesus. The three kings knew in the tales as the three wise man.
Christmas traditions revolve around the Christmas tree and Christmas gift and most famously around Santa Claus. So, where Santa Claus came from?!! This Christmas character has an interesting story by itself!!
Santa Claus is actually base on Saint Nicholas of Myra, a Dutch saint famous for giving gifts!! also known as ‘Sinterklaas.’ The iconic Santa’s attire was not a part of the original Sinterklass, rather was born after the Coca-cola ad in the 1930s. Hence, the red dress of Santa is nothing more than an intelligent and wide example of smart marketing!!
Another traditional part of Christmas are the Christmas carols. The word carol originally meant to dance to something. Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced around stone circles.
History of Christmas
In AD 129, a Roman Bishop said that a song called “Angel’s Hymn” should be sung at a Christmas service in Rome. Another famous early Christmas Hymn was written in 760AD, by Comas of Jerusalem, for the Greek Orthodox Church. Soon after this many composers all over Europe started to write ‘Christmas carols.’ Later they took a step and formed plays.This was changed by St. Francis of Assisi when, in 1223, he started his Nativity Plays in Italy.Before Carol singing in public became famous, there were sometimes official carol singers called ‘Waits.’ They were called ‘Waits’ because they only sang on Christmas Eve.
Another part of the celebration and a popular one at that has been the Christmas bells. A service on Christmas Eve after sunset is traditionally the first service of Christmas day! In churches that have a Bell or Bells, They are often rung to signal the start of this service.
In some churches in the UK, it is traditional that the largest bell in the church is run four times in the hour before midnight and then at midnight all the bells are rung in celebration.
In Victorian times, it was very fashionable to go carol singing with small handbells to play the tune of the carol. Sometimes there would only be the bells and no singing! Handbell ringing is still popular today .
Another fascinating story is that of the Candy Canes. A story says that a choirmaster, in 1670, was worried about the children sitting quietly all through the long Christmas nativity service. So he gave them something to eat to keep them quiet! As he wanted to remind them of Christmas, he made them into a ‘J’ shape like a shepherd’s crook, to tell them of the shepherds that visited the baby Jesus at the first Christmas. The ‘J’ can also mean Jesus to some interpreters.
In any case, the customs and traditions of Christmas are both exciting and intriguing! So enjoy the flavor!!