Christmas is the festival of joy and giving. It marks the birth of Jesus Christ on 25th December and is celebrated all around the world by billions of people. The traditional Christmas celebration is associated with Christmas tree, church services, family gatherings, Christmas carols, decorations, Santa Claus and exchange of gifts. Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday in most of the countries, both Christian and non-Christian. It is also an important festival from the economic point of view, as this is the time of the year when most of the people go out on a shopping spree.
History and Origin of Christmas Celebration
Early evidence of celebration of Christmas on this date, as the birth of Christ is available in several writings such as the canonical gospels. These sources also throw light on the customs and traditions which form a part of these celebrations. The traditions which correlate with pre-Christian festivals, such as gift giving and Yule log, were later on incorporated into Christmas celebrations. In pagan cultures, winter festivals, which fell around the winter solstice, were popular in the society. The popular customs from Roman Saturnalia, like greenery, lights, charity, gifting and merry making can be seen as a part of modern Christmas celebration. Gradually, with passage of time, Christmas carols became popular around the advent of the Middle Ages. It was accompanied with dancing, feasting, drinking and card playing, particularly becoming popular in England. While some people protested against such celebrations, others continued to revel in this manner. Later, in the 18th century, Christmas was being celebrated in Europe as well as America.
The focus shifted to Christmas being a family event, in the 19th century. It was now considered as the festival of goodwill, compassion and family bonding, with family gatherings and merriment becoming an ideal way to celebrate. This was the time when the customary phrase “Merry Christmas” received popularity. Christmas Tree was introduced in Britain during this period, with ornaments, lights and decorations used to adorn it. Christmas shopping added an element of commercialism to this festival, which continues to be a part and parcel of Christmas celebration till date. Christmas Card was introduced in America in 1875 by Louis Prang, while it became a Federal Holiday in US in 1885. The celebrations, which were earlier restricted to the cream of the society, became widespread amongst the masses later around the mid of the 20th century. Religious services in churches had now become a vital part of Christmas celebrations around the world. Religious processions and parades are now held in Catholic countries. Christmas now, is synonymous with family reunions, exchange of gifts and feasting. Children wait for their presents from Santa Claus.
Despite all these celebrations and traditions, we must not forget what the true spirit of Christmas is. Since times immemorial, Christmas stands for giving and sharing with those who are not as fortunate as we are. This is the time to spread love and bring smiles on the faces of your family and friends.