“Dashing Through The Snow
In A One Horse Open Sleigh
Over The Fields We Go
Laughing All The Way…”
These four lines from a popular Christmas jingle captures the essence of Christmas perfectly. Originally a sacred holiday, Christmas has now emerged as a cultural phenomenon, celebrated all the world over.
Celebrated on the 25th of December annually, the day marks the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth to the Virgin Mary as the fulfillment of a prophecy. The earliest mention of December 25th being a holiday honoring the birth of Jesus is a Roman calendar from 336 A.D. Derived from the term Christ’s Mass, according to historical legends, the birth took place in a stable. Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child.
However, contrary to popular conception, Christmas is not a celebration that lasts only a single day. Christmas is a twelve-day season that begins on December 25 and ends on January 5, with the eve of the Epiphany of our Lord. It is a festival which is characterized by warmth, affection and generosity through exchange of presents, which is an important part of the festivities.
Practices and rituals may vary from place to place, yet, some of the most recognizable, yet non religious symbols of Christmas are the Santa Claus, carols, Christmas Cake and the Christmas Tree.
The Santa Claus tradition is based on the life of a Christian bishop of the fourth century, Nicholas of Myra, a Greek-Orthodox bishop who lived in Turkey. Known for his great generosity, as per legends, he tossed a bag of gold coins through the window of an impoverished man who was being forced to sell his daughters into slavery. The image of a generous Santa Claus, riding on his sleigh, with a fat belly, to distribute presents can be traced to this story.
As far as Christmas trees are concerned, they are a relatively new tradition which seem to have originated in medieval Germany. Earlier, these evergreen plants were used for winter decoration to remind people that “life” was still possible. Today, Christmas is incomplete without the beautiful tree and its decorations, usually a decked to glory a day or two before, with presents for the family hidden below it on Christmas Eve, only to be discovered on Christmas morning.
Food is another important component of all Christmas festivities. Delicacies as such as Christmas pudding, mince pies, and fruit cake are especially prepared for the festival. Having one meal together, usually the dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Lunch is a traditional custom. However, it has gained specific significance in the current scenario when one hardly gets to spend time with their respective family, thanks to the consequences of this fast paced, technologically driven world.
In India, Christmas parties are held in the country. Due to its proximity to the end of the year and will all those Casual Leaves of the year piled up, people generally utilize the time for an end of the year vacation with the family.
So here’s wishing you a merry Christmas in advance. Stay blessed and happy !