The winter festivities have kicked in and Christmas is just round the corner. It’s the time of the year when families come together and celebrate. The merry and bright festival is celebrated on 25 December across the world, marking the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.
However, Christmas celebrations have evolved around the years, absorbing a myriad of earlier influences to become the festival we know today.
History and Origin of Christmas
As per The Independent, the festival was being celebrated two centuries before the birth of Christ. As Christianity began to spread across the Roman Empire, several pagan festivals such as the Saturnalia in Rome and Yule Feast of Nordic communities which were also celebrated in the midwinter season, began to coincide with Christmas festivities. Pope Julius I then decided to mark 25 December as the birth of Jesus Christ in 340 AD.
It is also believed that during the first two centuries of Christianity, people opposed celebrating Christ’s birthday as he was a martyr and people were of the belief that martyr’s should be honored rather than celebrated.
According to National Geographic, Christian gospels do not mention the date of Jesus Christ's birth, known as the Nativity. But stories about Christ’s immaculate conception and his birth in Bethlehem by Virgin Mary are widely known. Before Pope Julius I's decision, Christmas had been marked on at least three dates - 6 January, 29 March and sometime in June.
The celebrations related to Christmas also have their roots in ancient pagan festivals. The modern day idea of Santa Claus is said to be based on the traditions related with the 4th century Saint, Saint Nicholas.
In several countries such as the United States, Santa Claus who is also known as Kris Kringle, is a traditional patron of Christmas.
In the current era, Christmas is celebrated on 25 December to mark Jesus Christ’s birthday. Christmas now means ‘mass on Christ’s day’ in English. Christians go to mass organized in the church and children, also perform the Nativity play ,which narrates the story of Jesus Christ’s birth as it is described in the Gospels.
The legend of Santa Claus, who takes care of children and brings gifts to those who have behaved nicely all year, is also prevalent now. The mythical figure is believed to reside in the North Pole and comes on a sleigh on Christmas Eve.
Decorating houses with candles, Christmas trees, ornaments and colorful socks, all have now become part of modern day Christmas celebrations.