Christmas Day is a religious and cultural holiday, celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. Also referred to as Christmas, this day is celebrated annually by Christians on December 25 in the United States and throughout the world. This year was extra special as it coincided in the same week that the world had the gift to see the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on the winter solstice. Giving the affected of the theoretical and biblical sign of the Star of Bethlehem.
History of Christmas Day
In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Many argue that, historically, evidence suggests that Christmas day was indeed celebrated back in 354 AD as a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus. Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity.
The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s origin, ranging from a raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centred theme in the 19th-century. The celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within certain Protestant groups, such as the Puritans, due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical. Additionally, from 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.
It should also be noted that Jehovah’s Witnesses rejected and still continue to reject Christmas celebration. While the exact month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East.
Today, most Christians celebrate Christmas on the date of December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which is also the calendar in near-universal use in the secular world. The date of Christmas may (as many believe) to have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after the day on which early Christians believed that Jesus Christ was conceived. In the United States Christmas was declared a federal holiday on June 26, 1870.
Traditions of Christmas Day
Although Christmas Day has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated in a secular manner as well. Popular modern traditions of Christmas Day include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas Day involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our VivoMix family to yours!