The word Christmas comes from the words cristes maesse, or “Christi’s Mass”. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus for members of the Christian religion, in America it is also considered as a celebration of mid-winter (people have celebrated this festival since pre-historic times. They marked the beginning of longer hours of daylight with fire and ritual offerings).
It’s thought that Jesus of Nazareth was born in springtime. December 25th was chosen for the celebration of his birth by a pope, Julius I.,in the 4th century – to include a Christian element in the long-established mid-winter festivals. Most of people don’t realize that the church did not even honor any type of festivity for the event (the birth of Jesus) until the 4th century.
The Romans celebrated the Festival of Saturnalia in December, honoring Saturn and their winter solstice.
The Germanic tribes of Europe also held a celebration of feasting to honor mid-winter. Centuries later, the Puritans in England tried to do away with Christmas altogether but they had little success. NOWADAYS:
In America is Christmas both a holiday and a holy day. It’s the biggest event of the year especially for kids and members of the Christian religion. The federal government, all state governments, all schools/colleges/universities and the vast majority of business in America give employees one or two days off at Christmas. As a federal holiday was it declared on June 26, 1870 under the government headed by President Ulysses S. Grant during the period of reconstruction following the American Civil War. PRESENTS:
People give presents at Christmas to remind them of the gifts that the shepherds and Wise Men brought when Jesus was born. No one was really in the habit of exchanging elaborate gifts until late in the 1800s. The Santa Claus story (described later), combined with an amazing retailing phenomenon that has grown since the turn of century, has made gift giving a central focus of the Christmas tradition.
THE CHRISTMAS TREE:
For families in North America and other parts of Europe, the Christmas tree is the symbol of the Christmas season. They decorate it with things like colored lights, popcorn strings and tinsel. Other evergreens have been a part of mid-winter festival long before Christ. They played a symbolic part because they stayed green and alive when other plants appeared dead and bare.
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