CHRISTMAS - SIGNIFICANCE AND CELEBRATIONS
What Christmas Means?
The festival of Christmas is a joyous celebration that is observed in almost every part of the world. Christmas celebration commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. This festival is observed on 25th December every year. This day was placed by the Western Christian Church, as the actual month and day of Christ's birth are unknown. It was later adopted by the East and now 25th December marks the universal celebration of Christmas.
Why is Christmas Celebrated?
The day of Christmas festival is associated with Lord Jesus Christ which renders a great deal of significance to this day. It is often believed that some angels descended to the earth on this day and proclaimed Lord Jesus Christ as the savior of people.
Various Christmas facts can be obtained from Luke and Mathew's canonical gospels which are considered highly prominent and significant among Christians. As per their account, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, to Mary, a virgin mother. Joseph and Mary come to Bethlehem from Nazareth for a census where Jesus is born and laid in a manger.
The history of Christmas Celebrations dates back to 336 in the city of Rome. However, this festival gained much prominence and significance in the early phases of 19th Century with Oxford Movement which happened in Anglican Church. Following which, various English authors and writers revived and modified Christmas as an exuberant festival of religious significance comprising family get-togethers, preparing feasts and exchanging gifts.
How Christmas Is Celebrated?
Christmas is a religious and secular festival that is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm among Christians as well as non- Christians. This day is declared as a public holiday in majority of nations across the world, including India.
- The main customs and traditions associated with this festival is participating in the religious service held at various Churches along with home decorations, Christmas trees, feasts and exchange of gifts. Highest Church Attendance in a year on this day is a testimony to the significance of attending the religious service during this time.
- Parades or processions is another important part of the celebration of this vibrant festival which start few days prior to the main festival. These processions hold religious as well as spiritual importance.
- Splendid hues of red, green and gold is an integral part of Christmas decoration. Red is the color of the blood of Jesus that was shed during the crucifixion, green represents an evergreen life while gold epitomizes royalty. People decorate their homes with ivy, holly, bays, and everything green. It is believed that heart-shaped ivy symbolizes the birth or descent of Lord Jesus while holly protects against pagan and witches.
- People put up a Christmas tree at their home and bedeck it with bells, ornaments, lights, and flowers and decorate their homes with candles. wreaths, candy canes, etc. Saint Nicholas, popularly known as Santa Claus among children is believed to be a gift bearer who brings gifts for children on Christmas Eve or the night before the festival while they are sleeping.
- Christmas Tree is a significant part of this festival. The fir tree which is essentially used is triangular in shape. It is believed that this cone shaped tree is pointing towards heaven and this is why it holds this much reverence at the time of Christmas. Some people also believe that this tree symbolizes trinity. Christmas Tree also is evergreen and is a perfect epitome of life and eternity.
- People enjoy the Christmas family feast where the entire family comes together to celebrate the holiday and exchange gifts and Christmas cards with their loved ones. Music and singing carols is another beautiful part of this jovial festival.
What are the unique Christmas traditions?
Every country in the world has its own way of celebrating the festival of Christmas and some of them are quite unique and interesting:
- In Scandinavian nations of Norway, Finland, and Sweden, 'Yule Log' holds much significance. Norway is apparently the birthplace of the Yule log. As a popular tradition, this log is a Christmas block and is burnt in the hearth on this day. Log shaped cakes and other dishes is also an interesting aspect of the celebration here.
- In Mexico, a red and green plant termed as Poinsettia is the universal symbol of Christmas here given its unique colors. These colors perfectly portray the spirit of this holiday. Piñatas is another attraction of Mexican Christmas. These are scriptures made from Paper-Mache which are filled with candies and hung from the ceiling. Children take their turns to break the Piñatas to enjoy their candy treats.
- French call their Christmas Celebrations as Noel. There is a tradition in certain homes in France to burn a log from Christmas till New year. A part of this log is then used by farmers as it is believed that it will bring good harvest.
- The most unique thing about Christmas in Ukraine is the traditional 12-course meal. The youngest kid of the family informs the family as soon as the evening star appears which is a signal for the sumptuous feast to begin.
Hope you all have a grand celebration. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!!