Christmas (also X’ mas) means ‘Christ’s Mass’ or the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated generally on December 25 by millions of Christian people around the world. Christmas Festival is holy for Christians.
The chronography of 354 AD contains early evidence of the celebration of December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus. This was in Rome, though in Eastern Christianity, the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on 6 January. However, the celebration on 25 December was imported into the east later on.
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfilment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus birth. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 1: 18), and in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1: 26 & 2: 40). According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem. According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a manger in a stable (Luke 21:7). The Gospel of Matthew describes a visit by an unspecified number of Magi or astrologers (in some others opinion—three kings or wise men), sometimes after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2: 11). They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the young child Jesus. They were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem. The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.
Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world. Countries such as Japan and India, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees. Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participation in a religious service plays an important part in the celebration. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance. In Catholic countries, people hold religious processions in the days preceding Christmas, In other countries, secular processions featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held.
The exchange of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration. A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. The best-known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra in Turkey during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts.
Christmas cards bear the messages of greetings between friends and family members during the Christmas week. A special Christmas family meal or cuisine is traditionally an important part of the holiday’s celebration. A standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose, meat, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared or served as Christmas pudding, mince pies, and special Christmas cakes.
Christmas plays an important role in the economy too, as it is typically a peak selling season in the shops or stores around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorating materials, etc. on this occasion. In the US the “Christmas shopping season” starts as early as October. In the UK and Ireland, it starts from mid-Q November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on.
The Christmas Festival and celebrations all reflect Jesus teaching: “I give unto you this Eleventh Commandment—LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”