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A Blessed and Happy New Year!
middle of winter has long been a time of celebration
around the world. Centuries before the arrival
of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated
light and birth in the darkest days of winter.
Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice,
when the worst of the winter was behind them and
they could look forward to longer days and extended
hours of sunlight.
during the winter season were common, way before
Christmas was celebrated on December 25th. Actually,
Christmas was a movable feast and was celebrated
many different times during the year.
until Pope Julius I in the 4th century AD choose
December 25th because it coincided with the pagan
rituals of Winter Solstice or "Return of the Sun".
The purpose was to replace the pagan celebration
with the Christian one. By holding Christmas
at the same time as traditional winter solstice
festivals, church leaders increased the chances
that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but
gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.
the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most
part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers
attended church, then celebrated raucously in
a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to
today's Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student
would be crowned the "lord of misrule" and eager
celebrants played the part of his subjects. The
poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand
their best food and drink. If owners failed to
comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize
them with mischief. Christmas became the time
of year when the upper classes could repay their
real or imagined "debt" to society by entertaining
less fortunate citizens.
as we know it today is a Victorian invention of
the 1860s. Probably the most celebrated holiday
in the world, our modern Christmas is a product
of hundreds of years of both secular and religious
traditions from around the globe.
Symbols & Traditions
celebrates the birth of Christ, who was believed
to be the savior of mankind. Christmas has always
been one of the favorite times of the year for
everyone through out the world. The magical events
of Christmas are believed to hold each and everyone’s
heart with joy and freshness. These magical events
have been recreated in the many traditions followed
The traditions of Christmas have been aggregated
from over half a dozen cultures and accumulated
over the centuries. An in-depth look in into its
tradition, and one is moved with all the sentiments,
symbols and meaning associated with Christmas.
All of which combine to give a touch of liveliness
and harmony to the season of celebrations. However,
no matter which part of the world you are in,
the tradition of Christmas blossoms with fun and
celebration and carries along with it faith, hope
hundred years before the birth of Christ, the
Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the coming
of winter. They would gather this evergreen plant
that is parasitic upon other trees and used it
to decorate their homes. They believed the plant
had special healing powers for everything from
female infertility to poison ingestion. Scandinavians
also thought of mistletoe as a plant of peace
and harmony. They associated mistletoe with their
goddess of love, Frigga. The custom of kissing
under the mistletoe probably derived from this
belief. The early church banned the use of mistletoe
in Christmas celebrations because of its pagan
origins. Instead, church fathers suggested the
use of holly as an appropriate substitute for
are native to Mexico. They were named after America's
first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett. He
brought the plants to America in 1828. The Mexicans
in the eighteenth century thought the plants were
symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem. Thus the Poinsettia
became associated with the Christmas season. The
actual flower of the poinsettia is small and yellow.
But surrounding the flower are large, bright red
leaves, often mistaken for petals.
Christmas Tree originated in Germany in the 16th
century. It was common for the Germanic people
to decorate fir trees, both inside and out, with
roses, apples, and colored paper. It is believed
that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, was
the first to light a Christmas tree with candles.
While coming home one dark winter's night near
Christmas, he was struck with the beauty of the
starlight shining through the branches of a small
fir tree outside his home. He duplicated the starlight
by using candles attached to the branches of his
indoor Christmas tree. The Christmas tree was
not widely used in Britain until the 19th century.
It was brought to America by the Pennsylvania
abbreviation for Christmas is of Greek origin.
The word for Christ in Greek is Xristos. During
the 16th century, Europeans began using the first
initial of Christ's name, "X" in place of the
word Christ in Christmas as a shorthand form of
the word. Although the early Christians understood
that X stood for Christ's name, later Christians
who did not understand the Greek language mistook
"Xmas" as a sign of disrespect.
canes have been around for centuries, but it wasn't
until around 1900 that they were decorated with
red stripes and bent into the shape of a cane.
They were sometimes handed out during church services
to keep the children quiet. One story (almost
certainly false) that is often told about the
origin of the candy cane is as follows:
the late 1800's a candy maker in Indiana wanted
to express the meaning of Christmas through a
symbol made of candy. He came up with the idea
of bending one of his white candy sticks into
the shape of a Candy Cane. He incorporated several
symbols of Christ's love and sacrifice through
the Candy Cane. First, he used a plain white peppermint
stick. The color white symbolizes the purity and
sinless nature of Jesus. Next, he added three
small stripes to symbolize the pain inflicted
upon Jesus before His death on the cross. There
are three of them to represent the Holy Trinity.
He added a bold stripe to represent the blood
Jesus shed for mankind. When looked at with the
crook on top, it looks like a shepherd's staff
because Jesus is the shepherd of man. If you turn
it upside down, it becomes the letter J symbolizing
the first letter in Jesus' name. The candy maker
made these candy canes for Christmas, so everyone
would remember what Christmas is all about.
The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, was born
in Turkey in the 4th century. He was very pious
from an early age, devoting his life to Christianity.
He became widely known for his generosity for
the poor. But the Romans held him in contempt.
He was imprisoned and tortured. But when Constantine
became emperor of Rome, he allowed Nicholas to
go free. Constantine became a Christian and convened
the Council of Nicaea in 325. Nicholas was a delegate
to the council. He is especially noted for his
love of children and for his generosity. He is
the patron saint of sailors, Sicily, Greece, and
Russia. He is also, of course, the patron saint
of children. The Dutch kept the legend of St.
Nicholas alive. In 16th century Holland, Dutch
children would place their wooden shoes by the
hearth in hopes that they would be filled with
a treat. The Dutch spelled St. Nicholas as Sint
Nikolaas, which became corrupted to Sinterklaas,
and finally, in Anglican, to Santa Claus. In 1822,
Clement C. Moore composed his famous poem, "A
Visit from St. Nick," which was later published
as "The Night Before Christmas." Moore is credited
with creating the modern image of Santa Claus
as a jolly fat man in a red suit.
on the Christmas Charm to Return to Holiday Index
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