Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Celebration and Christmas Traditions

Christmas (Old EnglishCrīstesmæsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus[ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by millions of people around the world.
 A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide.Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world's nations,is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
The precise year of Jesus' birth, which some historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown.His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25 a date later adopted in the East.
File:Giorgione 014 crop.jpg
Birth of Jesus
 The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, as well as the date of celebration of the southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice), with a sun connection being possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the "Sun of righteousness" prophesied in Malachi 4:2.
The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar
Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. 
For this reason, EthiopiaRussiaUkraineSerbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7; the Church of Greece and all Greek Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25.
The popular celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-ChristianChristian and secular themes and origins.
 Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift givingChristmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cardschurch celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees,Christmas lightsnativity scenesgarlandswreathsmistletoe, and holly.
Christmas Greetings
Christmas Carol
Christmas Tree
Christmas Gifts

 In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa ClausFather ChristmasSaint Nicholas and Christ kind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. 
Santa Claus with his Gifts
Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
Christmas Traditions Worldwide:
Discover the origins of Christmas traditions from around the world, like the Yule log, caroling and how Christmas is celebrated  in various countries as detailed below

1. Sweden: 'God Jul!'

Most people in Scandinavian countries honor St. Lucia (also known as St. Lucy) each year on December 13. The celebration of St. Lucia Day began in Sweden, but had spread to Denmark and Finland by the mid-19th century.
In these countries, the holiday is considered the beginning of the Christmas season and, as such, is sometimes referred to as "little Yule." 
Traditionally, the oldest daughter in each family rises early and wakes each of her family members, dressed in a long, white gown with a red sash, and wearing a crown made of twigs with nine lighted candles. For the day, she is called "Lussi" or "Lussibruden (Lucy bride)." The family then eats breakfast in a room lighted with candles.
At night, men, women, and children would carry torches in a parade. The night would end when everyone threw their torches onto a large pile of straw, creating a huge bonfire. 
In Finland today, one girl is chosen to serve as the national Lucia and she is honored in a parade in which she is surrounded by torchbearers.
Light is a main theme of St. Lucia Day, as her name, which is derived from the Latin word lux, means light. Her feast day is celebrated near the shortest day of the year, when the sun's light again begins to strengthen. Lucia lived in Syracuse during the fourth century when persecution of Christians was common. 
Unfortunately, most of her story has been lost over the years. According to one common legend, Lucia lost her eyes while being tortured by a Diocletian for her Christian beliefs. Others say she may have plucked her own eyes out to protest the poor treatment of Christians. Lucia is the patron saint of the blind.

2. Finland: 'Hyvää Joulua!'

Many Finns visit the sauna on Christmas Eve. Families gather and listen to the national "Peace of Christmas" radio broadcast. It is customary to visit the grave sites of departed family members.

3. Norway: 'Gledelig Jul!'

Norway is the birthplace of the Yule log. The ancient Norse used the Yule log in their celebration of the return of the sun at winter solstice. "Yule" came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth. Ever wonder why the family fireplace is such a central part of the typical Christmas scene? This tradition dates back to the Norse Yule log. It is probably also responsible for the popularity of log-shaped cheese, cakes, and desserts during the holidays.

4 Germany: 'Froehliche Weihnachten!'

Decorating evergreen trees had always been a part of the German winter solstice tradition. The first "Christmas trees" explicitly decorated and named after the Christian holiday, appeared in Strasbourg, in Alsace in the beginning of the 17th century. After 1750, Christmas trees began showing up in other parts of Germany, and even more so after 1771, when Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited Strasbourg and promptly included a Christmas tree is his novel,The Suffering of Young Werther. In the 1820s, the first German immigrants decorated Christmas trees in Pennsylvania. After Germany's Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, he introduced the Christmas tree tradition to England. In 1848, the first American newspaper carried a picture of a Christmas tree and the custom spread to nearly every home in just a few years.

5. Mexico: 'Feliz Navidad!'

In 1828, the American minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, brought a red-and-green plant from Mexico to America. As its coloring seemed perfect for the new holiday, the plants, which were called poinsettias after Poinsett, began appearing in greenhouses as early as 1830. In 1870, New York stores began to sell them at Christmas. By 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday.
In Mexico, paper mache sculptures called pinatas are filled with candy and coins and hung from the ceiling. Children then take turns hitting the pinata until it breaks, sending a shower of treats to the floor. Children race to gather as much of of the loot as they can.

6. England: 'Merry Christmas!'

An Englishman named John Calcott Horsley helped to popularize the tradition of sending Christmas greeting cards when he began producing small cards featuring festive scenes and a pre-written holiday greeting in the late 1830s. 
Newly efficient post offices in England and the United States made the cards nearly overnight sensations. At about the same time, similar cards were being made by R.H. Pease, the first American card maker, in Albany, New York, and Louis Prang, a German who immigrated to America in 1850.
Caroling also began in England. Wandering musicians would travel from town to town visiting castles and homes of the rich. In return for their performance, the musicians hoped to receive a hot meal or money.
In the United States and England, children hang stockings on their bedpost or near a fireplace on Christmas Eve, hoping that it will be filled with treats while they sleep. 
In Scandinavia, similar-minded children leave their shoes on the hearth. 

7. France: 'Joyeux Noël!'

In France, Christmas is called Noel. This comes from the French phrase les bonnes nouvelles, which means "the good news" and refers to the gospel.
In southern France, some people burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure good luck for the next year's harvest.

8. Italy: 'Buon Natale!'

Italians call Chrismas Il Natale, meaning "the birthday."

9. Australia

 In Australia, the holiday comes in the middle of summer and it's not unusual for some parts of Australia to hit 100 degrees Farenheit on Christmas day.
During the warm and sunny Australian Christmas season, beach time and outdoor barbecues are common. Traditional Christmas day celebrations include family gatherings, exchanging gifts and either a hot meal with ham, turkey, pork or seafood or barbeques.

10. Ukraine: 'Srozhdestvom Kristovym!'

Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal. A family's youngest child watches through the window for the evening star to appear, a signal that the feast can begin.

11. Canada

Most Canadian Christmas traditions are very similar to those practiced in the United States. In the far north of the country, the Eskimos celebrate a winter festival called sinck tuck, which features parties with dancing and the exchanging of gifts.

12.Greece: 'Kala Christouyenna!'

In Greece, many people believe in kallikantzeri, goblins that appear to cause mischief during the 12 days of Christmas. Gifts are usually exchanged on January 1, St. Basil's Day.

13. Central America

A manger scene is the primary decoration in most southern European, Central American, and South American nations. St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity in 1224 to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers.

13. Jamestown, Virginia

According to reports by Captain John Smith, the first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in his 1607Jamestown settlement. Nog comes from the word grog, which refers to any drink made with rum.
Christmas in Vatican City:
Christmas is one of the bigger holidays on the Italian calendar, and one of the most popular spots to be at Christmas is in Vatican City. Even if you’re not Catholic, being in St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s traditional midnight mass is something to behold.  On Christmas Day the Pope delivers his Christmas message from his balcony overlooking the square.

Leading up to Christmas, there is a huge tree erected in St. Peter’s Square that gets all lit up at night. There’s also a life-sized nativity scene in the square. Nativity scenes are popular throughout Italy in the weeks before Christmas, so look for them in squares and churches well beyond Vatican City. 

The Pope’s midnight mass on Christmas Eve is held inside St. Peter’s Basilica, and there’s a big screen showing it live in the square so you can still follow along even if you’re not lucky enough to get indoors. The following day, the Pope comes out onto the balcony of his Vatican apartments, which overlooks the square, and gives his annual Christmas address at noon. 

(Source:http://thingstodo.viator.com/vatican-city/christmas-in-vatican-city/ )
Pope Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate Christmas midnight mass at 
St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
St Peter's Basilica 


  1. wow, that's a lot of good information! thanks for sharing :-) Bada din mubarak ho! (India)

    1. Anjana dayal>>>Thank you for your nice comments

  2. Thank you for such an informative post and wish you and yours a Merry Christmas too!

    1. magiceye>>thank you for your nice comments and wishes

  3. Replies
    1. rupam sarma>>>thank you for your nice comments and wishes