Christmas . . . the festivals of presents, children are waiting for the Santa Clause to secretly come and shower the presents. Christmas is a celebration of birth of Jesus Christ which held on December 25 of every year. A month before the date, the streets and markets are draped with multicolor decorative items, Christmas trees, hanging stars etc. The Indian festivals are celebrated with utmost brightness and Christmas is no exception.
What do people do?
Many Christians mark Christmas Day by attending special church mass, spending time with family, friends and relatives, wearing new clothes and eating special festive meal. People exchange gifts and give presents, sweets etc. to children. Christmas stars (with lamp) can be seen hanging out of every house. Along with Christmas tree, children, on the Christmas vacation put handmade scenes of birth of Jesus Christ with clay figures, sand and bricks with a Christmas tree. Christmas trees in India are usually artificial trees, pine trees or branches of native trees or bushes. There is also no snow in India except some parts of North. But, this does not deter the spirit of Christmas as children put cotton balls all over the tree to give a look of snow. Big stores and malls put up Christmas decorations and have actors playing Santa.
As Christmas is a gazetted holiday; National, state and local government offices, schools and colleges, post offices and banks remain closed on Christmas Day. Confectioners and bakers are the busiest people of the month, fulfilling the demands of people. Public transport system is open throughout the day.
Christmas is a festival when Christians around the world rejoice the birth of Jesus. However, the origin of this festival has only very little to do with Jesus. The old saga (which is told till now) is known to everyone. Our research took us to a new story.
In the beginning, no one was quite sure when he was born. New investigations with computers and star maps imply that he may have been born somewhere in June. But, at the end, no one is actually sure. The holy Bible does not go into much detail. So the question is why do we celebrate it in December?
Well, during early period, Christianity was outlooked as just another type of Judaism. However, over the years, the religion got popular but it still required converting a large number of the Roman populace. The easiest way was to make it easy for Romans by lining up all the Christian holidays with Pagan holidays.
In ancient times, according to the Pagans, the last day of wintry weather was celebrated as on the same night the Great Mother Goddess gave birth to the Sun God. Soon people found this as a reason to celebrate and honor the Saturnus (the harvest god, the planet Saturn is named after him) and Mithras (the oldest god of light) in the Roman era. The holiday signifies that winter was not everlasting and life shall continue. The Romans named this Saturnalia and started celebrating it between December 17 and 24. In the beginning, it commences with a celebration on December 17th (birthday of Saturnus) but was elongated to end with a feast on December 25th (Unconquered Sun). Many Christian writers linked the rebirth of the sun with birth of Jesus.
The early churches in fact did not celebrates the birth of Christ in December until the second Bishop of Rome, Telesphorus, declared that Church should held festivity during this time to celebrate The Nativity of our Lord and Savior. But, since no one was rather confident that in which month the Christ was born, for over 300 years people celebrated the birth of Jesus on various dates in the month.
After that, in the year 274 AD, the solstice was observed on December 25th and Roman Emperor Aurelian declared the date as Natalis Solis Invicti, means the fiesta of the birth of the invincible sun. Hitching up on this, Pope Julius I announced 25th of December as the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ in 320 AD. In 354 AD, Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered his members to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. There are now about 25 million Christians in India. The states with the largest percentages of Christians are Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram in North-West India, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south and Goa on the west shore.