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About Christmas

 

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Christmas is perhaps the only religious festival that is celebrated globally. Conventionally a Christian festival; Christmas is celebrated by people from different religions all over the world. The spirit and grandeur of the festival is such that one cannot help but get involved in the celebrations. Christmas is celebrated on 25th of December every year to mark the birth of Jesus of Nazareth more than thousands of years ago. In most of the countries Christmas is celebrated during the winters except for some countries in the Southern Hemisphere where it is summer during December.

 

Christmas is perhaps the only religious festival that is celebrated globally. Conventionally a Christian festival; Christmas is celebrated by people from different religions all over the world. The spirit and grandeur of the festival is such that one cannot help but get involved in the celebrations. Christmas is celebrated on 25th of December every year to mark the birth of Jesus of Nazareth more than thousands of years ago. In most of the countries Christmas is celebrated during the winters except for some countries in the Southern Hemisphere where it is summer during December.

 

Christmas is one time of the year when everybody is happy and looks forward to celebrate the occasion with their loved ones. It is the time to forgive and forget and indulge in all the fun and merriment associated with the festival. One can bask in the true spirit of Yuletide only by indulging in all the traditions associated with it. The playing of Christmas songs weeks before the festival actually begins marks the advent of the festive season. Christmas Eve is celebrated on 24th December. On this day a midnight mass is held in churches across the world to mark the beginning of Christmas day celebrations.

 

Origin of Christmas

For many years it was believed that 25th December was the birth date of Jesus. However, it is suggested that the date may have been chosen to match with either a historical Roman festival or the winter solstice, the year’s longest night. In Rome the festival of Saturnalia was celebrated from December 17 to December 24 to honor Saturn, the god of agriculture. The celebrations were carnival like including feasting, gambling, gift exchange and flipping over of social positions. Children command over adults while slaves get into their masters clothes and refuse to take orders as part of this celebration.

Two more festivals namely Juvenalia and Mithras were also celebrated around solstice. The church realized by the 4th century that they needed a festival during this time to counter these celebrations. The church leaders chose December 25 to celebrate as the birth of Christ, though the exact date was not known. Gradually, Christmas gained prominence over the years, graduating to a full fledged holiday by the 9th century. Christmas celebrations in early days were very different than what we see today. Celebrations consisted of feasting, drinking, and caroling for money and riotous behavior. By late 18th century and early 19th century, Christmas celebrations began to take more sober way that we see today and many changes were incorporated afterwards.

 

Christmas in the present context

One thing that has not changed over the years is the spirit of joy, fun, giving and merrymaking during Christmas. However with time, many changes have come in to the festivities. Newer traditions and practices can be seen in Christmas celebrations across the world. Some of these new inclusions have made the festivals more special and a memorable event, which everyone looks forward to. The festival consists of lots of secular practices and perhaps this is one reason why it is globally celebrated festival.

Christmas celebrations focus more on the celebrations and the traditions of giving gifts in honor of Jesus Christ. The holiday season is the time when everyone gets involved with the festivities by caching up with their family and friends. Some of the elements of Christmas are discussed below:

Christmas videos and Christmas songs: ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ might be one of the most common Christmas songs, but for many listeners the season has actually not arrived till they listen to this and their other favorite Christmas songs. Weeks ahead of Christmas, it is very common to find these songs being played in homes, restaurants, pubs and other public places. As someone rightly said, these songs trigger off the mood to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas videos are very popular, not just during the festival time but throughout the year. Some of the popular Christmas videos like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, A Garfield Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman are popular with children as adults as well. These Christmas movies are available at all video rental outlets.

 

Christmas gifts: You need adequate time to plan and purchase Christmas gifts for all your loved ones. This is one time of the year when everyone wants to make sure that they buy the best gift for their family, friends and relatives. Some people start their shopping for gifts very early, even during the summers. Both children and adults eagerly wait for the gifts, though many adults are reluctant to admit it.

Some of the top Christmas gifts include jewelry, cosmetics, and kitchen appliances for woman. Top Christmas gifts for men include electronics gadgets, sporting goods and toolbox. MP3 players, mobile phones, digital camera and pen drive are some of the top Christmas gift for the tech savvy teens of today. Gift something that has a person touch; it will be very well received no matter who gets the gift.

Christmas gift for kids can be really tough to buy. Parents are often torn between choices of whether they should give them something they like or something that the kids want. Kids being kids often end up wanting something that might not be very useful to them. Parents can perhaps try to strike a balance between the two while buying the gift, though it can get really tough at times.

Christmas ideas have it in them to make your celebrations the most treasured ever celebrations. Simple Christmas ideas and the top Christmas ideas popular today do not need huge investments on your part. Your Christmas idea will just add on your spirit of celebration and make it even more special. Clever use of some accessories can completely transform your experience of the celebrations.

Do not forget to take out your best tableware to serve the delicious food during this time. Put up some Christmas bow decorations on the chairs, candlesticks and the other decorations in your house to get the complete festive look. Light candles in your house, you can put them up everywhere starting from your bedroom, sitting room, kitchen to the balcony and the bathroom. There is no better sight during Christmas than a well lit house.

Christmas vacations are the ideal holiday getaway that families can indulge in. Christmas can be celebrated anywhere as long as you are with your family. So, this is the perfect time to go on a vacation and celebrate the festival with your family. Various holiday packages are available for this time of the year, they offer very attractive deals which are also affordable.

 

Christmas celebrations and beliefs around the world

Christmas is celebrated in different ways across the world. Reflections of local traditions, practices, customs and religious beliefs feature prominently in these celebrations. The climatic conditions also bring about a lot of variations in the celebrations depending on whether it is summer or winter season, where Christmas is being celebrated. Some of the Christmas celebrations, practices, traditions, legends, and beliefs across the world are discussed below.

 

America: Christmas is the time for family and friends to gather in America. Singing carols, exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, lighting up homes, sending greeting cards, baking Christmas cakes and attending church serves are some of the essential aspects of Christmas celebrations. Santa Claus is very much loved and children wait eagerly for a visit. Children open their gifts early in the morning as soon as they wake up.

 

Australia: As the country lies on the southern hemisphere, the celebrations take place in the height of the summer season. Children hang their stockings by the fireplace for Santa to place the gifts while they leave biscuits, milk and cake outside for Santa to consume during his visit. Santa comes to visit on surfboard wearing Bermuda shorts.

 

Mexico: Christmas is celebrated for nine days in Mexico. People dress up as Mary and Joseph and move from house to house asking if Mary can stay the night in their house. They are told that the house is full and after which the doors are opened up and all are invited to feast.

 

Canada: Christmas celebration traditions in Canada are pretty similar to America. Singing of carols, decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, Christmas cards and a visit from Santa Claus are all part of the celebrations. Christmas Eve is the time for gathering around the fireplace and the Christmas tree with the family to experience the spirit of the festival. Families attend evening mass to celebrate the birth of Christ.

 

China: Though there is no official holiday on the 25th of December, Christians across China celebrate the festival privately. Homes are lit up and decorated with beautiful paper lanterns and children hang up their stockings to receive gifts from Santa, who is known as Dun Che Lao Ren for being good children throughout the year.

 

England: Many of the Christmas traditions of England were borrowed and incorporated across the world for celebrating the birth of Christ. Customs like Christmas tree, Boxing Day and hanging of stockings by the chimney became popular in England before traveling to other countries. Instead of opening their gifts the first thing in the morning, children in England wait till the afternoon to open their gifts.

 

France: In France Santa is known as Pere Noel and is accompanied by Pre Fouettard, who keeps a track of how children behave through out the year. Children place shoes by the fireplace, where they believe Pere Noel will drop their gifts. Tiny clay figures of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds and the Wise Men are used to decorate the crèches. Families have dinner at midnight on Christmas Eve. Children get to open their gifts on Christmas day while adults get to open it on New Year.

 

Italy: The celebrations here are pretty similar to other countries of the world, except that the main exchange of gift doesn’t take place until January 6. Traditionally this is believed to be the day when the wise man reached baby Jesus. The first scene of nativity or crèche is believed to be set up in Italy by St. Assisi.

 

India: Houses are decorated with strings of mango leaves, lights and stars. A traditional meal called thali is prepared and distributed to neighbors, relatives and friends. Church services are held where families go and celebrate the day.

 

The Netherlands: According to the legends, Santa who is known as Sinterklaas comes by a boat from Spain, but delivers the gift from a horseback. Children leave their shoes filled with sugar and hay for Sinterklaas to deliver the gifts which consists of nuts and candies.

 

Sweden: In Sweden Santa is called Santa Tomte and he is seen a genome who comes from under the floor of the house. On December 13, Saint Lucia Day, the eldest daughter of the house dresses in white robe. At dawn the daughter places a ring of candle in her hair and wakes up the rest of the family serving them coffee, cookies and buns. Julkapp is another tradition where a gift is wrapped in many layers of paper, and then the gift is left at the door of any random house.

 

Russia: Babouschka brings gifts for the children. Legends say that she failed to give food and shelter to the three wise men. So, now she goes about searching for baby Jesus by visiting all the children and giving them gifts. Santa is known as Saint Nicholas, he wears a blue outfit instead of the traditional red. Christmas is celebrated on 7th January and consists of a Christmas Eve holy supper which has 12 servings, one each to honor the twelve apostles of Jesus.

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