Christmas is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for coming together with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages… But mostly, Christmas is for love. It was this love for which Jesus came to this world and sacrificed his life.
Thus Christmas is a celebration of love and mirth symbolized by the Nativity, the Santa, the caribou, the poinsettia and the evergreens. All that bring home the spirit of love and life. And this is the spirit that makes Christmas so popular throughout the world.
Though originated by the Roman Catholics who commemorate the December 25th as the day of birth of Christ Child, it has gradually come to be celebrated by the non-Catholics as well. As far as the United States goes, the celebration of X’mas is comparatively of recent origin. Much of the world was already well into Christmas celebrations by the time the United States began to wake up. In the first half of the 19th century the Sunday schools in America held Christmas celebrations. And the celebration of Christmas in America owes its origin to these schools. Alabama was the first state to grant legal recognition to X-mas in 1836. The DC did it in 1870. By 1893 all the states and territories had made similar acknowledgements.
So be it the United States or in other parts of the world Christmas is celebrated as the commemoration of the birth of Christ Child — very likely the holiest event ever to take place anywhere on the Earth, and an entirely worthy occasion to celebrate. But don’t we often wonder if we’ve got these things about it right? And why is the difference of opinion (however immaterial) regarding the date of birth? Is it even on the right date?
We bring to you a story of the Birth of Christ Child along and offer you a short tour across the world to know the way Christmas is celebrated in different parts. But before doing this please don’t forget to brush up some historical trivia regarding Jesus’ birth. Click here to know the answers to some simple yet vulnerable questions.
The whole world goes into the celebration mood during the mid winters. Long back even before the arrival of Jesus, Europeans started celebrating the light in the gloomiest days of winter. During the winter solstice, many of the Europeans began to celebrate because the tough time of winter was behind them and they felt it was the period of prolonged hours of sunlight.
Norse celebrated Yule from December 21 in Scandinavia. To celebrate the magic of sunlight, fathers and sons used logs and set them on fire. People around enjoyed these 12 days until the logs were not burned out completely. It was their belief that each fire spark represented a new pig or calf that would be born in the coming year.
Mesopotamians used to celebrate 12 days long New Year festival before 4000 years. This festival was called Zagmuth. The Mesopotamians, believers of multiple deities, started the celebration to honor their chief deity, Marduk. They used to believe that Marduk fought against the monsters of chaos at the onset of each winter season. It was believed that this was the festival where from the 12 days long Christmas had originated.
Most of the European countries thought that the end of December was an appropriate and ideal time for celebrations. It was a high time to celebrate because there were no cattle left for feeding as most of the cattle were already slaughtered. Celebration could continue with fresh meat and it was the only time of the winter when they had that opportunity. The fermented wine and beer during this time were the additional spice for the celebration.
During mid winter German people honored the time-honored Pagan God Oden. People of Germany were afraid of the nocturnal sky flights. They used to think that the Almighty had created that to observe and monitor his people of this world. They had also thought that the Almighty had the power to decide who would live and who would perish. Many of them decided to stay inside due to his presence.
Places like Saturnalia, Rome where the winter was not that strong and unkind like countries located in the northern tip celebrated holidays in honor of the God of agriculture, Saturn. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice was a special period when residents had bountiful food items and drinks to celebrate with. The month long celebration had the charm to convert slaves to even masters. Peasants used to control the city. To celebrate the time with fun and frolic all the schools and business organizations had decided to close their shutters.
Juvenalia, the feast honoring the Children of Rome, celebrated during winter solstice, was a prime carnival for Roman people as well. On December 25, the upper class of Rome used to celebrate the birthday of the infant God of the unconquerable sun, Mithra who was born of a rock. It was the most sanctified day of the entire year for few Romans. Easter, the main holiday, was celebrated in the early years of Christianity. However, Christmas or the birth of Jesus was not celebrated.
Romans started to exchange gifts and visit the homes of their friends and relatives during the festivity. It was believed that the ritual of exchanging greeting and gifts during Christmas had come from Rome.