Monday, December 8, 2014

Some Facts on Joyful Christmas

Christmas is the merriest season of the year. However, people differed in their views about Christmas and some of the practices related to it. Some people accept Christmas as part of their religious or social traditions. Others do not celebrate it at all because of their religious or other beliefs. But the fact is that Christmas is an occasion that is widely celebrated all over the world and has affected the lives of many people in some ways. Christmas is just around the corner. And it is worthwhile to make this year’s celebration as joyous and memorable as ever. We could start entertaining ourselves in connection with the celebration of Christmas with a small discussion of some facts that follow:

December 25 as Christmas Day. Although December 25 is the day that is traditionally celebrated as Christmas, the Bible did not specify the exact date of Jesus’ birth. And religious scholars have not established the date of his birth either. A clue to the question is the book of Luke 2:8-14 which stated that during Jesus’ birth the shepherds were watching their flocks at night. Considering that it is usually a winter season in Palestine in December, Biblical scholars contend that Jesus could not have been born during that month because shepherds most probably would not go to their field in a wintry evening. It is said that early Christians did not celebrate the birth of Jesus. It was also said that pagans celebrate their festivity called Saturnalia during the winter solstice which may occur from December 21-22 to honor the sun god. At about 440 A.D. Christian converted Roman officials made December 25 as the date of Jesus’ birth to make Christianity acceptable to the pagans.

The three kings. It was never mentioned in the Bible that there were three kings who visited the infant Jesus to pay homage to him. It was mentioned that he was given gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh by the magi from the east. Although there were only three gifts that were presented to Jesus, the givers who were called magi might be a group of people composing more than three persons.

The date of Christmas of Eastern Orthodox Churches. Some Eastern Christian Orthodox Churches celebrate their Christmas on January 7 rather than on December 25. The reason of it is that most Christian Orthodox Churches especially the Russian and Serbian use the old Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar.

Not all Christians celebrate Christmas. Jehovah’s witnesses, a Christian denomination do not celebrate Christmas. They consider Christmas as pagan in origin and therefore not a Christian holiday. They also believe that Jesus Christ and some known Biblical personalities did not celebrate birthdays. And that Biblical accounts related to birthdays were mostly associated with unpleasant events.

 “Happy Holidays” Greetings. Generally, people associate Christmas with the Christian religion. But some people are non-Christians, others do not profess to belong to any religious group while still others do not celebrate Christmas at all. Greeting them with “Merry Christmas” is some sort distasteful to them.  “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas!” is a more acceptable way of greeting them during the celebration.  Those people also prefer to call the occasion “the holidays” instead of Christmas.

The longest Christmas celebration in the world. The Philippines is a country with the longest Christmas celebration. The merriment starts as early as late September with the playing of Christmas carols over the radio and some business establishments, and ends at the feast day of Epiphany on January 6. The official celebration however starts at the ”Misa de Gallo” or the evening mass that starts on December 16 and culminates in the Christmas  Eve. The New Year and the Epiphany are considered by many Filipinos as part of their Christmas celebration.

Christmas tree. Christmas tree has its origin in the pagan traditions of having tree as decoration during the winter festivity. The evergreen boughs, mistletoe and holy were regarded as the hope for life in the wintertime when trees had no leaves. Early Christians prohibited the tradition because of its pagan origin. The Germans however revived the tradition in the 16th century by using tree as a decoration during the festivity of “The Feast of Adam and Eve” which was celebrated on December 24. The German brought the Christmas tree tradition in the 17th century to the United States.  The Americans in turn spread the use of Christmas tree as decoration throughout the world.

White Christmas. The song “White Christmas” was the best-selling Christmas single of all time. It has sold more than 50 million copies. The song was composed by Irving Berlin and popularized by Bing Crosby at Decca Records which released it in 1942.

Santa Claus. The figure of a red- suited Santa that is chubby, bearded and round bellied who is on a sleigh drawn by reindeers  was taken from the poem  “A Visit to Saint Nicholas” which is better known today as “The Night before Christmas“. The poem was attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. One of the first artist to define Santa’s modern image was Thomas Nast an American cartoonist of the 19th century who made a picture of Santa in the “Harper’s Weekly” in 1863.