Christmas is probably the most popular time of year for adults but especially for children. Everyone loves this holiday and the magical way in which all cities dress up with thousands of bright lights.
Nowadays, Christmas is celebrated in a more commercial way compared to how it was held in the past. Shops all over the world start the Christmas countdown even from September, offering discounts and promotional items to attract a larger number of clients.
The History of Christmas
This festivity is celebrated as both a religious and commercial holiday. Some traditions have changed over the years, while other customs were preserved. Among Christians, this day is celebrated as the birth of Jesus Christ, a God, and a spiritual leader.
The origin of Christmas dates back to Middle Ages. It is true that then, the festivities did not resemble the present ones. There were holidays related to Christmas as we know it. These celebrations were very popular throughout Europe. Depending on the region in which they were held, the holidays had different names and specific customs.
For example, in Italy, there was Saturnalia, which is the equivalent of the Advent. The name of the Italian festivity comes from the God Saturn. In addition to this, the Romans were also hosting the Juvenalia, in which the main focus was to celebrate the children. On December, 25th, the Italians had a holiday to honor the birth of Mithra. They believed that Mithra was an infant god, and for some of the Roman population, this was the most important celebration of the entire year.
In time, Christmas or Christmas-related festivities had spread all over the European continent, from Scandinavia to England, and Greece.
In the United States, this winter holiday was truly embraced in the 19th century. Americans modified the customs of this festivity turning it from a carnival-like holiday into a more peaceful day spent together with families and close friends.
When is Christmas?
Everyone knows the answer to the question “what day is Christmas?”. This holiday is celebrated every year, on December 25th, and it has become an American federal celebration since 1870.
It is believed that the Catholic church chose this specific date to celebrate the birth of Jesus, in order to replace the pagan festivity of Saturnalia. The Pope first called it the Celebration of the Nativity and had even spread it to Egypt in 432.
Twelve Days of Christmas
The twelve-day period, starting with 25th December until 5th January, is also called Twelvetide or Christmastide. It is a period of celebrating Jesus’ birth, and it is a tradition in almost all Western Churches. For others like the Catholics, this period lasts a bit longer.
The Twelve Great Feasts, which is how the Eastern Orthodox call it, are the second most important celebrations after Easter. Furthermore, in the Western Christianity, Christmas is seen as the first day of the Twelvetide.
Even though in America, people do not celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas as much as they used to, there are still some things that remind us of that specific period such as the Christmas song that has the exactly same name. However, the lyrics are far from being religious or sacred. The decreased popularity of the Twelvetide is also because the New Eve’s Party has become more and more popular, so Americans created a distinction between the two festivities.
People all over the globe celebrate this holiday by gathering around the holiday trees, exchanging presents, going to church masses, eating traditional dishes. Kids also wait for Santa Claus to bring them gifts.
- Decorating the tree. This tradition began in Germany back in the 16th However, the Romans used to embellish their temples with fir trees during Saturnalia festivities. In the beginning, the tree was decorated with fruits, sweets, and other foods, instead of the usual modern decorations that we use today. This is a moment of engaging in a nice family activity.
- Santa Claus. Also named Saint Nicholas, this mythical character is described as an old friendly man who gives presents to children who were well-behaved all year round. It is a historical figure, who was created in Western cultures but who was adopted by many other nations.
- Carols. These festivity songs were sang starting from the Middle Ages. However, the first carols were accompanied by dancing and were used as a pagan incantation to comfort the Gods.
Many people associate this time of the year with being a better person, charitable events, and doing good in the society. This joyful holiday is a public and important one is most of the countries, especially in those in which there is a majority of Christians. Therefore, people who celebrate it get to take the day off from work and enjoy some quality moments along with their families. There are even some companies that offer more than just one day off to their employees.
If you are wondering how many more days until Christmas, then that depends on when you read this piece. It might seem like a long time, but do not fret. Times passes by quickly and before you know it you will wake up in the Christmas morning, and you will receive lots of exciting gifts.