History Of Christmas
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ,observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave. The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies; when Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then disseminated the message furthermore.Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by the vast majority of Christians,as well as culturally by a number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season, while some Christian groups reject the celebration.In several countries, celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24 has the main focus rather than December 25, with gift-giving and sharing a traditional meal with the
What People Do At Christmas?
1. Reflect on the reason for Christmas
If you’re not sure about it or you’re rusty on the background, do some research. In the Bible, you can find the Christmas story in the Gospel according to Luke, Chapters 1 and 2, as well as the Gospel according to Matthew Chapters 1 and 2. Consider reading these chapters aloud as part of your family’s holiday. Ask members of the family for their own impressions of the stories given, to personalize their understanding.
Talk to children about the meaning of Christmas and tell them the stories about Christmas. Find beautiful illustrations to accompany the Bible stories to capture their interest. Also, keep in mind that doing this for too long might bore their pants off. Try to keep these sessions short, something they can cherish.
There are also many great children books and coloring books that illustrate the Christmas Story in an easy to read format. Some books take the Christmas story verses directly from the Bible others tell the story in the way that’s different.
In many cultures it’s a custom to have the youngest (able) child place the baby in the cradle or the cradle in the stable of the Nativity Scene. A religious store can supply also Tree of Jesse symbol activities and you can cut Christmas cookies into camels, angels, Nativity figures, stars, crosses using cookie cutters. If you look around in some old Christmas books there are easy and fun crafts for religious ornaments for the whole family.Decorate a small 1 to 4 foot tree with angels, Nativity Scene figure ornaments, Nativity charms from a bracelet and jewel tone or metallic ornaments. A star, angel or crown can be placed on top of such a tree.You can easily incorporate religious ornaments into the main Christmas tree, use religion as a theme or use suggestions from the previous paragraph. Don’t be afraid to add actual everyday Christmas items and scenery to your tree that doesn’t have commercial in it. Animals, flowers, fruits,bells,candles, houses are good examples.Poinsettias and holly don’t have to be commercial icons or any flower or creature that’s seen on Christmas. Not even a snowflake or the snowman. Choose a plain teddy bear not the Santa Bear. Queen’s Lace flowers or something that closely resembles Frankincense and Myrrh can also be included in flower arrangements.Frankincense and Myrrh oils can be purchased in many herb, candle or floral shops and used as fragrance instead of traditional holiday scents.
2. Christmas Carol Songs
A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas, commonly known as A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London by Chapman & Hall in 1843; the first edition was illustrated by John Leech. A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.
Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past, such as carols, as well as new customs such as Christmas trees. He was influenced by experiences from his own past, and from the Christmas stories of other authors, including Washington Irving and Douglas Jerrold. Dickens had written three Christmas stories prior to the novella, and was inspired to write the story following a visit to the Field Lane Ragged school, one of several establishments for London’s half-starved, illiterate street children. The treatment of the poor and the ability of a self-interested man redeeming himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the key themes of the story. There is discussion among academics as to whether this was a fully secular story, or if it is a Christian allegory.
3. Bright Color & Lights
It is a colorful festival — as are most in India — and local stores, markets, and malls are draped in multicolored twinkling fairy lights, paper streamers, and flowers. One of the things that my daughter noticed about Christmas in India last year was the brightness of it all. For Indians, festivals are always celebrated with lights and colors, and Christmas is no exception. Churches are decorated using stunning light shows and look spectacular in the night.
Most families put up a Christmas tree. Snow is in short supply, but that does not deter enterprising children from draping cotton wool all over their trees to imitate snow-covered evergreens. A lot of decorations and ornaments are handmade, and stars are everywhere. My dad put up Christmas stars all over the house and out on the roads to welcome friends, neighbors, and family to our home at Christmastime.
4. Christmas Food
Christmas cooking also starts early. Christmas sweets — mainly originating from Goa and adapted in the rest of the country — are traditionally called “kuswar,” and they range from deeply delicious dense Christmas fruitcakes to rose cookies and “kidiyo” (literally translating as worms, but these are deep-fried curly dough balls, dusted in icing sugar). We also make sweet dumplings called “newrio,” stuffed with palm sugar, sweet grated coconut, and sesame seeds. Savoury banana chips, crisp chaklis (a round, deep-fried savoury made with lentils), and cardamom and cashew macaroons round up a versatile collection of Christmas goodies.
Making these sweets is a family affair, as all the women in our extended family get together and make them over a weekend or two. It was an exciting time to be a child, as scraps were always plentiful, and we were also allowed to stay up late with our cousins and friends while our mothers gossiped around the kitchen.
I love all the cultural influences that go into these sweets. Fruitcakes, for example, are heavily influenced by British plum puddings, and indeed, are also occasionally called plum cakes in India. Rose cookies are a result of the Dutch occupation, and a lot of the other sweets are the result of Portuguese and French cuisines. Our Christmas is, therefore, a true melting pot of all the cultures that were part of India during colonial times.
5.The Christmas Crib
Along with food, the nativity scenes — we call them Christmas cribs — are an important part of our Christmas traditions. We planned our cribs early in the month, as there was always (not-so) friendly competition in the neighborhoods and between churches as to whose crib was the most elaborate. My sister and I spent hours planning our own. We grew paddy plants in small trays, and we collected bricks and sand. We could hardly wait for the day our schools closed for the Christmas break, as that is when we would pull out all our nativity statues and go about creating beautiful, detailed cribs, resplendent with lights, fields, bridges, and waterfalls.
At midnight on Christmas Eve, we would reverently place the baby Jesus statue in the scene, and then admire our handiwork all through the season.
By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, we would be delirious with excitement. All that week, preparations for the day were being made. The pork (dukra maas) and chicken curries — staples of our Christmas dinners — were made in advance and left to mature. Batter was ground for sannas (steamed rice cakes) and left to ferment overnight for soft, fluffy breads, perfect to soak up all those curries. Last-minute alterations were made to our Christmas clothes and there was a lot of excitement in the air.
One of our most enduring Christmas traditions is that of the midnight mass. Churches start their services with carol singing, after which the Christmas mass is held. We were all dressed up in our best finery and after the service, we milled around the church, socializing and wishing everybody Merry Christmas. It was hot and dusty, and the smells of cooking permeated the air. After church, we usually went to visit family or friends, and shared a piece of rich fruitcake and small glasses of port wine. Us kids were allowed small sips from the grownups’ wine glasses. We were also allowed to have a small taste of that pork curry, deliciously spicy and fragrant, and we would then head back home, tired but still excited for Christmas day to arrive.