Pictures of christmas decorations in homes 2018

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Christmas is an annual commemorating of, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A central to the, it is preceded by the season of or the and initiates the season of, which historically in the West lasts and culminates on ; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an.Christmas Day is a public in, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the centered around it.

The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the says that Jesus was born in, in accordance with. When and arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a where the was soon born, with proclaiming this news to shepherds who then further disseminated the information.

Although the month and date of Jesus' birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid fourth century the had placed Christmas on December 25, a date that was later adopted in the East. Today, most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the, which has been adopted almost universally in the used in countries throughout the world. However, some celebrate Christmas on December 25 of the older, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the. This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a preference of which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25. Moreover, for Christians, the belief that came into the world in the to for the of humanity, rather than the exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of, Christian, and themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include, completing an or, and, lighting a, viewing a, an exchange of,, a, pulling and the display of various, including,,,,,, and. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as,,, and, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

Contents

Etymology

"Christmas" is a shortened form of "'s ". It is derived from the Cristemasse, which is from Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131.Crīst ( Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), "", meaning "anointed"; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the.

The form Christenmas was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally "Christian mass". is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), "Christ", though numerous discourage its use; it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where "Χρ̄" is an abbreviation for Χριστός).

Other names

In addition to "Christmas", the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The referred to the feast as "midwinter", or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from nātīvitās below). "", meaning "birth", is from Latin nātīvitās. In Old English, Gēola () referred to the period corresponding to December and January, which was eventually equated with Christian Christmas. "Noel" (or "Nowel") entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs) meaning "birth (day)".

Nativity

Main article:

Gospel according to Saint Luke Chapter 2, v 1–20

The of Luke and Matthew both describe Jesus as being born in to a. In the Luke account, Joseph and Mary travel from to Bethlehem for the census, and Jesus is born there and laid in a manger. It says that angels proclaimed him a savior for all people, and shepherds came to adore him.

In the Matthew account, magi to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus, born the. orders the less than two years old in Bethlehem, but the family flees to Egypt and later settles in Nazareth.

History

The Nativity stories of Matthew and Luke are prominent in the gospels and early Christian writers suggested various dates for the anniversary. The first recorded Christmas celebration was in in 336.Christmas played a role in the Arian controversy of the fourth century. In the early Middle Ages, it was overshadowed by. The feast regained prominence after 800, when Charlemagne was crowned emperor on Christmas Day.

Associating it with drunkenness and other misbehavior, the Puritans banned Christmas in the 17th century. It was restored as a legal holiday in 1660, but remained disreputable. In the early 19th century, Christmas was revived with the start of the in the Anglican Church.

and other writers reinvented the holiday by emphasizing Christmas as a time for family, religion, gift-giving, and social reconciliation as opposed to the revelry that had been common historically.

Choice of December 25 date

In the 3rd century, the date of birth of Jesus was the subject of both great interest and great uncertainty. Around AD 200, wrote:

“ There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord's birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, and in the 25th day of [the Egyptian month] Pachon [May 20] … Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21]. ”

In other writing of this time, May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17, and November 20 are all suggested. Various factors contributed to the selection of December 25 as a date of celebration: it was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar; it was about nine months after March 25, the date of the vernal equinox and a date linked to the conception of Jesus.

Solstice date

December 25 was the date of the on the Roman calendar. Jesus chose to be born on the shortest day of the year for symbolic reasons, according to an early Christmas sermon by : "Hence it is that He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase."

Linking Jesus to the Sun was supported by various Biblical passages. Jesus was considered to be the "Sun of righteousness" prophesied by : "Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings." John describes Jesus as "the light of the world."

Such solar symbolism could support more than one date of birth. An anonymous work known as De Pascha Computus (243) linked the idea that creation began at the spring equinox, on March 25, with the conception or birth (the word nascor can mean either) of Jesus on March 28, the day of the creation of the sun in the Genesis account. One translation reads: "O the splendid and divine providence of the Lord, that on that day, the very day, on which the sun was made, March 28, a Wednesday, Christ should be born.

In the 17th century, argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the solstice.

According to Steven Hijmans of the University of Alberta, "It is cosmic symbolism... which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the as that of John the Baptist, supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception."

Calculation hypothesis

The Calculation hypothesis suggests that an earlier holiday held on March 25 became associated with the Incarnation. Modern scholars refer to this feast as the Quartodecimal. Christmas was then calculated as nine months later. The Calculation hypothesis was proposed by French writer in 1889. In modern times, March 25 is celebrated as. This holiday was created in the seventh century and was assigned to a date that is nine months before Christmas, in addition to being the traditional date of the equinox. It is unrelated to the Quartodecimal, which had been forgotten by this time.

Early Christians celebrated the life of Jesus on a date considered equivalent to 14 Nisan (Passover) on the local calendar. Because Passover was held on the 14th of the month, this feast is referred to as the Quartodecimal. All the major events of Christ's life, especially the passion, were celebrated on this date. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions Passover, presumably celebrated according to the local calendar in Corinth. Tertullian (d. 220), who lived in Latin-speaking North Africa, gives the date of passion celebration as March 25. The date of the passion was moved to Good Friday in 165 when created Easter by reassigning the Resurrection to a Sunday. According to the Calculation hypothesis, celebration of the quartodecimal continued in some areas and the feast became associated with Incarnation.

The Calculation hypothesis is considered academically to be "a thoroughly viable hypothesis", though not certain. It was a traditional Jewish belief that great men were born and died on the same day, so lived a whole number of years, without fractions: Jesus was therefore considered to have been conceived on March 25, as he died on March 25, which was calculated to have coincided with 14 Nisan. A passage in Commentary on the Prophet Daniel (204) by identifies December 25 as the date of the nativity. This passage is generally considered a late interpellation. But the manuscript includes another passage, one that is more likely to be authentic, that gives the passion as March 25.

In 221, (c. 160 – c. 240) gave March 25 as the day of creation and of the conception of Jesus in his universal history. This conclusion was based on solar symbolism, with March 25 the date of the equinox. As this implies a birth in December, it is sometimes claimed to be the earliest identification of December 25 as the nativity. However, Africanus was not such an influential writer that it is likely he determined the date of Christmas.

The tractate De solstitia et aequinoctia conceptionis et nativitatis Domini nostri Iesu Christi et Iohannis Baptistae, falsely attributed to, also argued that Jesus was conceived and crucified on the same day of the year and calculated this as March 25. This anonymous tract also states: "But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December ... the eight before the calends of January [25 December] ..., But they call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered'. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord...? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice."

History of religions hypothesis

The rival "History of Religions" hypothesis suggests that the Church selected December 25 date to appropriate festivities held by the Romans in honor of the Sun god. This feast was established by Aurelian in 274. An explicit expression of this theory appears in an annotation of uncertain date added to a manuscript of a work by 12th-century Syrian bishop. The scribe who added it wrote:

"It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day."

In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday and was therefore a "paganization" that debased the true church. It has been argued that, on the contrary, the Emperor, who in 274 instituted the holiday of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, did so partly as an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already important for Christians in Rome.

Hermann Usener and others proposed that the Christians chose this day because it was the Roman feast celebrating the birthday of Sol Invictus. Modern scholar S. E. Hijmans, however, states that "While they were aware that pagans called this day the 'birthday' of Sol Invictus, this did not concern them and it did not play any role in their choice of date for Christmas." Moreover, Thomas J. Talley holds that the Roman Emperor placed a festival of Sol Invictus on December 25 in order to compete with the growing rate of the Christian Church, which had already been celebrating Christmas on that date first. In the judgement of the Church of England Liturgical Commission, the History of Religions hypothesis has been challenged by a view based on an old tradition, according to which the date of Christmas was fixed at nine months after March 25, the date of the vernal equinox, on which the was celebrated.

With regard to a December religious feast of the deified Sun (Sol), as distinct from a solstice feast of the birth (or rebirth) of the astronomical sun, one scholar has commented that, "while the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas". "Thomas Talley has shown that, although the Emperor Aurelian's dedication of a temple to the sun god in the Campus Martius (C.E. 274) probably took place on the 'Birthday of the Invincible Sun' on December 25, the cult of the sun in pagan Rome ironically did not celebrate the winter solstice nor any of the other quarter-tense days, as one might expect." The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought remarks on the uncertainty about the order of precedence between the religious celebrations of the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun and of the birthday of Jesus, stating that the hypothesis that December 25 was chosen for celebrating the birth of Jesus on the basis of the belief that his conception occurred on March 25 "potentially establishes 25 December as a Christian festival before Aurelian's decree, which, when promulgated, might have provided for the Christian feast both opportunity and challenge".

Introduction of feast

As Christmas was unknown to the early Christian writers, it must have been introduced sometime after 300. and omit it from their lists of feasts. In 245,, writing about, commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays, namely Pharaoh, who then had his chief baker hanged (), and Herod, who then had John the Baptist beheaded (), and mentions saints as cursing the day of their birth, namely Jeremiah () and Job (). In 303, still ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration. But since Christmas does not celebrate Christ's birth "as God" but "as man", this does not necessarily show that Christmas was not a feast at this time.

The earliest known Christmas celebration is recorded in a. This manuscript is thought to record a celebration that occurred in 336. It was prepared privately for, a Roman aristocrat, in 354. The reference in question states, "VIII kal. ian. natus Christus in Betleem Iudeæ" translated as "8 Kalends January Birth of Christ in Bethlehem, Judea." This reference is in a section of the manuscript that was copied from earlier source material. The document also contains the earliest known reference to the feast of Sol Invictus. The fact the of North Africa celebrated Christmas suggests that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.

In the birth of Jesus was celebrated in connection with the on January 6, which however emphasized celebration of the.Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of following the death of the pro- Emperor at the in 378. The feast was introduced at in 379, in by towards the end of the fourth century, probably in 388, and in only in the following century. The feast disappeared after resigned as in 381, although it was reintroduced by in about 400. Even in the West, January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380.

Relation to concurrent celebrations

Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus' birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later. These elements, including the from Yule and gift giving from, became into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday's inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, -like state in the, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century transformation. In fact, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within certain groups, such as the, due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical. also reject the celebration of Christmas.

Mosaic of Jesus as Christus Sol (Christ the Sun) in Mausoleum M in the pre-fourth-century necropolis under in Rome.

Prior to and through the centuries, —especially those centered on the —were the most popular of the year in many European pagan cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needed to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached. Many modern Christmas customs have been directly influenced by such festivals, including:

  • Gift-giving and merrymaking from the Roman,
  • Greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year, and
  • and various foods from feasts.

The Egyptian deity, son to goddess, was celebrated at the winter solstice. Horus was often depicted being fed by his mother, which also influenced the symbolism of.

The pre-Christian —including the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse—celebrated a winter festival called, held in the late December to early January period, yielding modern English yule, today used as a synonym for Christmas. In Germanic language-speaking areas, numerous elements of modern Christmas folk custom and iconography stem from Yule, including the,, and the. Often leading a ghostly procession through the sky (the ), the long-bearded god is referred to as "the Yule one" and "Yule father" in Old Norse texts, while other gods are referred to as "Yule beings".

In eastern Europe also, old pagan traditions were incorporated into Christmas celebrations, an example being the, which was incorporated into the.

Post-classical history

The Nativity, from a 14th-century ; a liturgical book containing texts and music necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year

In the, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in focused on the visit of the. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the "forty days of St. Martin" (which began on November 11, the feast of ), now known as Advent. In Italy, former traditions were attached to Advent. Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.

The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King was crowned on Christmas Day 1066.

The coronation of Charlemagne on Christmas of 800 helped promote the popularity of the holiday

By the, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various celebrated Christmas. of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten. The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. also became popular, and was originally a group of dancers who sang. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form. ""—drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on, and there was special Christmas ale.

Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated,, and other evergreens.Christmas during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord. The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques, and pageants. In 1607, insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games. It was during the in 16th–17th-century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the or, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.

Modern history

18th century

Public notice in issued by the deeming Christmas illegal and sacrilegious

Following the, many of the new denominations, including the and, continued to celebrate Christmas. In 1629, the Anglican poet penned, a poem that has since been read by many during Christmastide. Donald Heinz, a professor at, states that "inaugurated a period in which Germany would produce a unique culture of Christmas, much copied in North America." Among the congregations of the, Christmas was celebrated as one of the principal.

However, in 17th century England, some groups such as the, strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the "trappings of " or the "rags of ". In contrast, the established "pressed for a more elaborate observance of feasts, penitential seasons, and saints' days. The calendar reform became a major point of tension between the Anglican party and the Puritan party." The also responded, promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. King directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old-style Christmas generosity. Following the victory over Charles I during the, England's Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647.

Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with and shouted slogans. The book, The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652), argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with "plow-boys" and "maidservants", old Father Christmas and carol singing.

The Examination and Trial of, (1686), published after Christmas was reinstated as a holy day in England

The of in 1660 ended the ban, but many Calvinist clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. As such, in Scotland, the Presbyterian discouraged the observance of Christmas, and though commanded its celebration in 1618, was scant. The officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been "purged of all superstitious observation of days". It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday.

Following the Restoration of Charles II, Poor Robin's Almanack contained the lines: "Now thanks to God for Charles return, / Whose absence made old Christmas mourn. / For then we scarcely did it know, / Whether it Christmas were or no." The diary of James Woodforde, from the latter half of the 18th century, details the observance of Christmas and celebrations associated with the season over a number of years.

In, the of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. The Plymouth Pilgrims put their loathing for the day into practice in 1620 when they spent their first Christmas Day in the New World working – thus demonstrating their complete contempt for the day. Non-Puritans in New England deplored the loss of the holidays enjoyed by the laboring classes in England.Christmas observance was outlawed in in 1659. The ban by the Puritans was revoked in 1681 by English governor, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.

At the same time, Christian residents of and observed the holiday freely. Settlers, pre-eminently the settlers of, and in Pennsylvania and the Settlements in North Carolina, were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes.Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the, when it was considered an English custom. attacked (German) mercenaries on the day after Christmas during the on December 26, 1776, Christmas being much more popular in Germany than in America at this time.

With the atheistic in power during the era of, Christian Christmas were banned and the was renamed the "equality cake" under.

19th century

In the UK, Christmas Day became a in 1834, Boxing Day was added in 1871.

In the early-19th century, writers imagined Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. In 1843, wrote the novel that helped revive the "spirit" of Christmas and seasonal merriment. Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion.

Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centered festival of generosity, linking "worship and feasting, within a context of social reconciliation." Superimposing his humanitarian vision of the holiday, in what has been termed "Carol Philosophy", Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit. A prominent phrase from the tale,, was popularized following the appearance of the story. This coincided with the appearance of the and the growth of, which led a revival in traditional rituals and religious observances.

The Queen's Christmas tree at, published in the Illustrated London News, 1848, and republished in, Philadelphia, December 1850

The term became a synonym for, with dismissive of the festive spirit. In 1843, the first commercial was produced by. The revival of the began with 's "Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern" (1833), with the first appearance in print of "", "", "" and "", popularized in Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

In Britain, the was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the by, wife of. In 1832, the future wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with,, and placed round it. After her marriage to her German cousin, by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain.

An image of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle created a sensation when it was published in the in 1848. A modified version of this image was published in the United States in 1850. By the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.

In America, interest in Christmas had been revived in the 1820s by several by which appear in his and "Old Christmas". Irving's stories depicted harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities he experienced while staying in, Birmingham, England, that had largely been abandoned, and he used the tract Vindication of Christmas (1652) of Old English Christmas traditions, that he had transcribed into his journal as a format for his stories.

The Christmas Visit. Postcard, c.1910

In 1822, wrote the poem (popularly known by its first line: Twas the Night Before Christmas). The poem helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. This also started the cultural conflict between the holiday's spiritual significance and its associated that some see as corrupting the holiday. In her 1850 book The First Christmas in New England, includes a character who complains that was lost in a shopping spree.

While the celebration of Christmas was not yet customary in some regions in the U.S., detected "a transition state about Christmas here in New England" in 1856. "The old puritan feeling prevents it from being a cheerful, hearty holiday; though every year makes it more so." In, a newspaper remarked in 1861, "Even our presbyterian friends who have hitherto steadfastly ignored Christmas—threw open their church doors and assembled in force to celebrate the anniversary of the Savior's birth."

The First Congregational Church of Rockford,, "although of genuine Puritan stock", was 'preparing for a grand Christmas jubilee', a news correspondent reported in 1864. By 1860, fourteen states including several from had adopted Christmas as a legal holiday. In 1875, introduced the to Americans. He has been called the "father of the American Christmas card". On June 28, 1870, Christmas was formally declared a.

20th century

Up to the 1950s in the UK, many Christmas customs were restricted to the upper classes and better-off families. The mass of the population had not adopted many of the Christmas rituals that later became general. The was rare. Christmas dinner might be beef—certainly not turkey. In their stockings children might get an apple, orange, and sweets. Full celebration of a family Christmas with all the trimmings only became widespread with increased prosperity from the 1950s. National papers were published on Christmas Day until 1912. Post was still delivered on Christmas Day until 1961. League football matches continued in Scotland until the 1970s while in England they ceased at the end of the 1950s.

Under the of the Soviet Union, after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations—along with other Christian holidays—were prohibited in public. During the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, the encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays, including Easter; the League established an antireligious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement. At the height of this persecution, in 1929, on Christmas Day, children in Moscow were encouraged to spit on as a protest against the holiday. It was not until the in 1991 that the ended and Orthodox Christmas became a state holiday again for the first time in Russia after seven decades.

European History Professor Joseph Perry wrote that likewise, in, "because Nazi ideologues saw organized religion as an enemy of the totalitarian state, propagandists sought to deemphasize—or eliminate altogether—the Christian aspects of the holiday" and that "Propagandists tirelessly promoted numerous Nazified Christmas songs, which replaced Christian themes with the regime's racial ideologies."

As Christmas celebrations began to be held around the world even outside traditional Christian cultures in the 20th century, some Muslim-majority countries subsequently banned the practice of Christmas, claiming it undermines.

21st century

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Customs and traditions

Main article:

Map of countries where Christmas is a formal public holiday either on December 24-25 or January 6-7 Map of countries where Christmas is not a formal public holiday either on December 24-25 or January 6-7

Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian areas, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. ); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations, and Christmas trees.

Countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (excepting Hong Kong and ), the Comoros, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, the Maldives, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, the Sahrawi Republic, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.

Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance. A 2010 survey by found that 47% of American households attend church services during this time. In the United Kingdom, the Church of England reported an estimated attendance of 2.5 million people at Christmas services in 2015.

In countries, people hold religious processions or in the days preceding Christmas. In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift-giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on, and January 6,.

Decorations

Main article:

A typical presepe or presepio, or Nativity scene. Local crèches are renowned for their ornate decorations and symbolic figurines, often mirroring daily life.

The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be "decked with, ivy,, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green". The heart-shaped leaves of were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.

Clifton Mill in is the site of this Christmas display with over 3.5 million lights.

Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. They were popularised by Saint from 1223, quickly spreading across Europe. Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world, dependent on local tradition and available resources, and can vary from simple representations of the crib to far more elaborate sets – renowned manger scene traditions include the colourful in Poland, which imitate 's historical buildings as settings, the elaborate Italian presepi (, and ), or the crèches in France, using hand-painted terracotta figurines called. In certain parts of the world, notably, living nativity scenes following the tradition of Saint Francis are a popular alternative to static crèches. The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s, inspired by paper chains made by children. In countries where a representation of the is very popular, people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family.

The traditional colors of Christmas decorations are,, and. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter, and gold is the first color associated with Christmas, as one of the three gifts of the, symbolizing royalty.

The official White House Christmas tree for 1962, displayed in the Entrance Hall and presented by and his wife.

The is considered by some as of tradition and ritual surrounding the, which included the use of boughs, and an adaptation of pagan ; according to eighth-century biographer, (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to and pointed out a, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the. The English language phrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that began the tradition in the 16th century.

From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via, wife of, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain. By the 1870s, people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree.Christmas trees may be decorated with and.

On Christmas, the Christ Candle in the center of the is traditionally lit in many.

Since the 16th century, the, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly,, red, and. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with and foliage. The display of has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated,, and other Christmas figures. Mistletoe features prominently in European myth and folklore (for example the legend of ), it is an evergreen parasitic plant which grows on trees, especially apple and poplar, and turns golden when it is dried. It is customary to hang a sprig of mistletoe in the house at Christmas, and anyone standing underneath it may be kissed. Mistletoe has sticky white berries, one of which was traditionally removed whenever someone was kissed under it. This is probably a fertility ritual. The mistletoe berry juice resembles semen.

Outdoor Christmas decoration and lighting

Other traditional decorations include,,,,, and. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas display. The concentric assortment of leaves, usually from an, make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare for the Advent season. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world.

Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places. It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on, the evening of January 5.

Music and carols

Main article:

Christmas carolers in

The earliest extant specifically Christmas hymns appear in fourth-century. Latin hymns such as "", written by, Archbishop of Milan, were austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to. "Corde natus ex Parentis" ("Of the Father's love begotten") by the Spanish poet (d. 413) is still sung in some churches today. In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Christmas "Sequence" or "Prose" was introduced in North European monasteries, developing under into a sequence of rhymed. In the 12th century the Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor began to derive music from popular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional.

By the 13th century, in France, Germany, and particularly, Italy, under the influence of, a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed.Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of, a chaplain, who lists twenty-five "caroles of Cristemas", probably sung by groups of, who went from house to house.

The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal folk songs sung during celebrations such as "harvest tide" as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols began to be sung in church. Traditionally, carols have often been based on chord patterns, and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. Some carols like "", "", and "" can be traced directly back to the. They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. "" (O Come all ye faithful) appears in its current form in the mid-18th century, although the words may have originated in the 13th century.

Singing of carols initially suffered a decline in popularity after the in northern Europe, although some Reformers, like, wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship. Carols largely survived in rural communities until the revival of interest in popular songs in the 19th century. The 18th-century English reformer understood the importance of music to worship. In addition to setting many psalms to melodies, which were influential in the in the United States, he wrote texts for at least three Christmas carols. The best known was originally entitled "Hark! How All the Welkin Rings", later renamed "".

wrote a melody adapted to fit Wesley's words. In Austria in 1818 Mohr and Gruber made a major addition to the genre when they composed "" for the St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf. ' Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) contained the first appearance in print of many now-classic English carols, and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the festival.

Completely secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late 18th century. "" dates from 1784, and the American "" was copyrighted in 1857. In the 19th and 20th century, African American spirituals and songs about Christmas, based in their tradition of spirituals, became more widely known. An increasing number of seasonal holidays songs were commercially produced in the 20th century, including jazz and blues variations. In addition, there was a revival of interest in early music, from groups singing folk music, such as The Revels, to performers of early medieval and classical music. has composed many carols including "", "", "", "", "", "" and "".

Traditional cuisine

Christmas table in Serbia

A special is traditionally an important part of the holiday's celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Some regions, such as, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served. In the United Kingdom and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey, goose or other large bird, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as,, and.

In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served. In Sweden it is common with a special variety of, where ham, meatballs and herring play a prominent role. In Germany, France, and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham, and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. The traditionally serve, a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after and throughout the Christmas season. Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread, in France, in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German, cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods. is a -based traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar, and whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). such as brandy, rum or bourbon are often added. The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

Cards

A 1907 Christmas card with and some of his reindeer

Main article:

Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. The traditional greeting reads "wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year", much like that of the first commercial, produced by in London in 1843. The custom of sending them has become popular among a wide cross-section of people with the emergence of the modern trend towards exchanging.

Christmas cards are purchased in considerable quantities, and feature artwork, commercially designed and relevant to the season. The content of the design might relate directly to the, with, or such as the, or a white, which can represent both the and on Earth. Other Christmas cards are more and can depict, mythical figures such as, objects directly associated with Christmas such as candles, holly and baubles, or a variety of images associated with the season, such as Christmastide activities, snow scenes and the wildlife of the northern winter. There are even humorous cards and genres depicting nostalgic scenes of the past such as shoppers in idealized 19th-century streetscapes.

Some prefer cards with a poem, prayer, or ; while others distance themselves from religion with an all-inclusive "Season's greetings".

Christmas stamp released in the United States in 1982, featuring a painting by

Commemorative stamps

Main article:

A number of nations have issued at Christmastide. Postal customers will often use these stamps to mail, and they are popular with. These stamps are regular, unlike, and are valid for postage year-round. They usually go on sale some time between early October and early December, and are printed in considerable quantities.

Gift giving

Christmas gifts under a Christmas tree

The exchanging of is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making it the most profitable time of year for and businesses throughout the world. On Christmas, people exchange gifts based on the Christian tradition associated with, and the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were given to the baby Jesus by the. The practice of gift giving in the celebration of may have influenced Christian Christian customs, but on the other hand the Christian "core dogma of the, however, solidly established the giving and receiving of gifts as the structural principle of that recurrent yet unique event", because it was the Biblical Magi, "together with all their fellow men, who received the gift of God through man's renewed participation in the divine life."

Gift-bearing figures

Main articles:,, and

Christmas gift-bringers in Europe

A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are, also known as (derived from the for Saint Nicholas), Père Noël, and the ; or ; the ; Kris Kringle; ; ; Babbo Natale; ; and. The Scandinavian tomte (also called nisse) is sometimes depicted as a instead of Santa Claus.

The best known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus, of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was a 4th-century of, a city in the of, whose ruins are 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from modern in southwest Turkey. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast day, December 6, came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.

Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop's attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.

The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular in New York. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of notable contributors including and the cartoonist (1840–1902). Following the, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city's non-English past. New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was reinvented as Saint Nicholas.

In 1809, the convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of, the name for. At his first American appearance in 1810, Santa Claus was drawn in bishops' robes. However, as new artists took over, Santa Claus developed more secular attire. Nast drew a new image of "Santa Claus" annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast's Santa had evolved into the modern vision of the figure, perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s and continues through the present day.

Santa Claus reacts to a toy request ( as Santa)

Father Christmas, a jolly, stout, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and rather than the bringing of gifts. In, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by, or. In other versions, make the toys. His wife is referred to as.

There has been some opposition to the narrative of the American evolution of Saint Nicholas into the modern Santa. It has been claimed that the Saint Nicholas Society was not founded until 1835, almost half a century after the end of the American War of Independence. Moreover, a study of the "children's books, periodicals and journals" of New Amsterdam by Charles Jones revealed no references to Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. However, not all scholars agree with Jones's findings, which he reiterated in a book-length study in 1978; Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York was alive and well from the early settlement of the on.

Current tradition in several countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children's homes, a reconciliation between traditional and the of Santa Claus imported from the United States.

In (Italy), Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, and Switzerland, the ( in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. Greek children get their presents from on New Year's Eve, the eve of that saint's liturgical feast. The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus / Father Christmas). St. Nikolaus wears a 's dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts, and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.

Multiple gift-giver figures exist in Poland, varying between regions and individual families. St Nicholas (Święty Mikołaj) dominates Central and North-East areas, the Starman (Gwiazdor) is most common in, Baby Jesus (Dzieciątko) is unique to, with the Little Star (Gwiazdka) and the Little Angel (Aniołek) being common in the South and the South-East. Grandfather Frost (Dziadek Mróz) is less commonly accepted in some areas of Eastern Poland. It is worth noting that across all of Poland, St Nicholas is the gift giver on the on December 6.

Date according to Julian calendar

Some jurisdictions of the, including those of,,,,,, and, mark feasts using the older. As of 2018, there is a difference of 13 days between the Julian calendar and the modern, which is used internationally for most secular purposes. As a result, December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the calendar used by most governments and people in everyday life. Therefore, the aforementioned Orthodox Christians mark December 25 (and thus Christmas) on the day that is internationally considered to be January 7.

However, other Orthodox Christians, such as those belonging to the jurisdictions of,,,,,,,,, and the, among others, began using the in the early 20th century, which at present corresponds exactly to the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, these Orthodox Christians mark December 25 (and thus Christmas) on the same day that is internationally considered to be December 25, and which is also the date of Christmas among Western Christians.

A further complication is added by the fact that the continues the original ancient practice of celebrating the birth of Christ not as a separate holiday, but on the same day as the celebration of his baptism (), which is on January 6. This is a public holiday in Armenia, and it is held on the same day that is internationally considered to be January 6, because the Armenian Church in Armenia uses the Gregorian calendar.

However, there is also a small, which maintains the traditional Armenian custom of celebrating the birth of Christ on the same day as Theophany (January 6), but uses the Julian calendar for the determination of that date. As a result, this church celebrates "Christmas" (more properly called Theophany) on the day that is considered January 19 on the Gregorian calendar in use by the majority of the world.

In summary, there are four different dates used by different Christian groups to mark the birth of Christ, given in the table below.

Listing

Church or section Date Calendar Gregorian date Note January 6 Julian calendar January 19 Correspondence between Julian January 6 and Gregorian January 19 holds until 2100; in the following century the difference will be one day more., January 6 Gregorian calendar January 6 jurisdictions, including those of,,,,,,,, and the December 25 December 25 Revised Julian calendar usage started in the early 20th century Other Eastern Orthodox:,,,, Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro, and.

Also, some Catholics.

December 25 Julian calendar January 7 Correspondence between Julian December 25 and Gregorian January 7 of the following year holds until 2100; from 2101 to 2199 the difference will be one day more. 29 (corresponding to Julian December 25 or 26) January 7 or 8 Since the Coptic calendar's leap day is inserted in what the Julian calendar considers September, the following Koiak 29 falls one day later than usual in the Julian and Gregorian calendars 29 or 28 (corresponding to Julian December 25) January 7 After the Ethiopian insertion of a leap day in what for the Julian calendar is September, Christmas is celebrated on Tahsas 28 in order to maintain the exact interval of 9 30-day months and 5 days of the child's gestation. The uses the same calendar but, like the Coptic Church, does not make this adjustment.,, secular world December 25 Gregorian calendar December 25

Economy

Main article:

Christmas market in, Germany

Christmas is typically a peak selling season for retailers in many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate. In the U.S., the "Christmas shopping season" starts as early as October. In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before (October 31), and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11. In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid-November, around the time when high street are turned on. In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season. Figures from the reveal that expenditure in department stores nationwide rose from.8 billion in November 2004 to.9 billion in December 2004, an increase of 54 percent. In other sectors, the pre-Christmas increase in spending was even greater, there being a November–December buying surge of 100 percent in bookstores and 170 percent in jewelry stores. In the same year employment in American retail stores rose from 1.6 million to 1.8 million in the two months leading up to Christmas. Industries completely dependent on Christmas include, of which 1.9 billion are sent in the United States each year, and live Christmas Trees, of which 20.8 million were cut in the U.S. in 2002. In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales.

In most Western nations, Christmas Day is the least active day of the year for business and commerce; almost all retail, commercial and institutional businesses are closed, and almost all industries cease activity (more than any other day of the year), whether laws require such or not. In, the prevents all large shops from trading on Christmas Day. Scotland is currently planning similar legislation. release many high-budget movies during the holiday season, including Christmas films, movies or high-tone dramas with high production values to hopes of maximizing the chance of nominations for the.

One 's analysis calculates that, despite increased overall spending, Christmas is a under orthodox, because of the effect of gift-giving. This loss is calculated as the difference between what the gift giver spent on the item and what the gift receiver would have paid for the item. It is estimated that in 2001, Christmas resulted in a billion deadweight loss in the U.S. alone. Because of complicating factors, this analysis is sometimes used to discuss possible flaws in current microeconomic theory. Other deadweight losses include the effects of Christmas on the environment and the fact that material gifts are often perceived as, imposing cost for upkeep and storage and contributing to clutter.

Controversies

See also: and

Further information:

Christmas has at times been the subject of controversy and attacks from various sources. Historically it was prohibited by when they briefly held power in England during the (1649–1660), and in where the Puritans outlawed the celebration of Christmas in 1659. The, which was dominated by, passed a series of acts outlawing the observance of Christmas between 1637 and 1690; Christmas Day did not become until 1958.Christmas celebrations have also been prohibited by such as the and more recently majority Muslim states such as Somalia, Tajikistan and Brunei.

Modern scholars such as, and consider both Gospel narratives of the birth of Jesus to be non-historical, arguing that there are contradictions between them. Many biblical scholars view the discussion of historicity as secondary, given that gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than historical accounts.

Secularization controversies

Some Christians and organizations such as 's cite alleged attacks on Christmas (dubbing them a "war on Christmas"). Such groups claim that any specific mention of the term "Christmas" or its religious aspects is being increasingly, avoided, or discouraged by a number of advertisers, retailers, government (prominently schools), and other public and private organizations. One controversy is the occurrence of Christmas trees being renamed Holiday trees. In the U.S. there has been a tendency to replace the greeting Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays, which is considered inclusive at the time of the Jewish celebration of. In the U.S. and Canada, where the use of the term "Holidays" is most prevalent, opponents have denounced its usage and avoidance of using the term "Christmas" as being. Groups such as the have initiated court cases to bar the display of images and other material referring to Christmas from public property, including schools. Such groups argue that government-funded displays of Christmas imagery and traditions violate the, which prohibits the establishment by Congress of a national religion. In 1984, the ruled in that a Christmas display (which included a Nativity scene) owned and displayed by the city of, did not violate the First Amendment. In November 2009, the in Philadelphia upheld a school district's ban on the singing of Christmas carols. The declined to hear an appeal.

American Muslim scholar has said that Muslims must treat Christmas with respect, even if they disagree with it.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ 8 Kalends January is eight days before the (or first day) of January which is December 25. The used inclusive counting, so the eight days are 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 1.

References

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  2. ^. Gallup, Inc. December 24, 2008. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  3. Gwynne, Paul (2011).. John Wiley & Sons.  . 
  4. ^ Ramzy, John.. Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Retrieved January 17, 2011. 
  5. (January 6, 2007)... 
  6. Agadjanian, Alexander (2016). Armenian Christianity Today: Identity Politics and Popular Practice. Routledge. p. .  . The Armenian Apostolic Church follows the oldest Jerusalem version of Canons of Calendar, based on the Julian Calendar, and therefore celebrates Christmas and Theophany on the same day, January 6 
  7. Jansezian, Nicole......the Armenians in Jerusalem – and only in Jerusalem – celebrate Christmas on January 19... 
  8. ,. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
    2009-10-31.
  9. ^ Martindale, Cyril Charles... Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908.
  10. Several branches of that use the also celebrate on December 25 according to that calendar, which is now January 7 on the. Armenian Churches observed the nativity on January 6 even before the Gregorian calendar originated. Most Armenian Christians use the Gregorian calendar, still celebrating Christmas Day on January 6. Some Armenian churches use the Julian calendar, thus celebrating Christmas Day on January 19 on the Gregorian calendar, with January 18 being Christmas Eve.
  11. . Pew Research Center. December 18, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  12. . Gallup, Inc. December 24, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  13. Forbes, Bruce David (October 1, 2008). Christmas: A Candid History.. p. 27.  . In 567 the Council of Tours proclaimed that the entire period between Christmas and Epiphany should be considered part of the celebration, creating what became known as the twelve days of Christmas, or what the English called Christmastide.
    On the last of the twelve days, called Twelfth Night, various cultures developed a wide range of additional special festivities. The variation extends even to the issue of how to count the days. If Christmas Day is the first of the twelve days, then Twelfth Night would be on January 5, the eve of Epiphany. If December 26, the day after Christmas, is the first day, then Twelfth Night falls on January 6, the evening of Epiphany itself.
    After Christmas and Epiphany were in place, on December 25 and January 6, with the twelve days of Christmas in between, Christians slowly adopted a period called Advent, as a time of spiritual preparation leading up to Christmas
  14. Senn, Frank C. (2012). Introduction to Christian Liturgy. Fortress Press. p. 145.  . We noted above that late medieval calendars introduced a reduced three-day octave for Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost that were retained in Roman Catholic and passed into Lutheran and Anglican calendars. 
  15. Government of Canada. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  16. U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  17. HM Government. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  18. Ehorn, Lee Ellen; Hewlett, Shirely J.; Hewlett, Dale M. (September 1, 1995). December Holiday Customs. Lorenz Educational Press. p. 1.  . 
  19. Nick Hytrek,, Sioux City Journal, November 10, 2009. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
  20. Crump, William D. (September 15, 2001). The Christmas Encyclopedia (3 ed.). McFarland. p. 39.  . Christians believe that a number of passages in the Bible are prophecies about future events in the life of the promised Messiah or Jesus Christ. Most, but not all, of those prophecies are found in the Old Testament... Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2): "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Juda, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." 
  21. Tucker, Ruth A. (2011). Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church. Zondervan. p. 23.  . According to gospel accounts, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, thus sometime before 4 BCE. The birth narrative in Luke's gospel is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. Leaving their hometown of Nazareth, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem to pay taxes. Arriving late, they find no vacancy at the inn. They are, however, offered a stable, most likely a second room attached to a family dwelling where animals were sheltered—a room that would offer some privacy from the main family room for cooking, eating, and sleeping. This "city of David" is the little town of Bethlehem of Christmas-carol fame, a starlit silhouette indelibly etched on Christmas cards. No sooner was the baby born than angels announced the news to shepherds who spread the word. 
  22. Corinna Laughlin, Michael R. Prendergast, Robert C. Rabe, Corinna Laughlin, Jill Maria Murdy, Therese Brown, Mary Patricia Storms, Ann E. Degenhard, Jill Maria Murdy, Ann E. Degenhard, Therese Brown, Robert C. Rabe, Mary Patricia Storms, Michael R. Prendergast,, LiturgyTrainingPublications, 2010, p. 29.
  23. , The Tertullian Project. 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  24. Roll, Susan K.,, (Peeters Publishers, 1995), p. 133.
  25. .. November 3, 2009.  . Retrieved April 2, 2009. Christmas is not really about the celebration of a birth date at all. It is about the celebration of a birth. The fact of the date and the fact of the birth are two different things. The calendrical verification of the feast itself is not really that important... What is important to the understanding of a life-changing moment is that it happened, not necessarily where or when it happened. The message is clear: Christmas is not about marking the actual birth date of Jesus. It is about the Incarnation of the One who became like us in all things but sin (Heb. 4:15) and who humbled Himself "to the point of death-even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:8). Christmas is a pinnacle feast, yes, but it is not the beginning of the liturgical year. It is a memorial, a remembrance, of the birth of Jesus, not really a celebration of the day itself. We remember that because the Jesus of history was born, the Resurrection of the Christ of faith could happen. 
  26. . CRI / Voice, Institute. Retrieved April 2, 2009. The origins of the celebrations of Christmas and Epiphany, as well as the dates on which they are observed, are rooted deeply in the history of the early church. There has been much scholarly debate concerning the exact time of the year when Jesus was born, and even in what year he was born. Actually, we do not know either. The best estimate is that Jesus was probably born in the springtime, somewhere between the years of 6 and 4 BC, as December is in the middle of the cold rainy season in, when the sheep are kept inside and not on pasture as told in the Bible. The lack of a consistent system of timekeeping in the first century, mistakes in later calendars and calculations, and lack of historical details to cross reference events has led to this imprecision in fixing Jesus' birth. This suggests that the Christmas celebration is not an observance of a historical date, but a commemoration of the event in terms of worship. 
  27. .. 1894. Retrieved April 2, 2009. Throughout the Christian world the 25th of December is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ. There was a time when the churches were not united regarding the date of the joyous event. Many Christians kept their Christmas in April, others in May, and still others at the close of September, till finally December 25 was agreed upon as the most appropriate date. The choice of that day was, of course, wholly arbitrary, for neither the exact date not the period of the year at which the birth of Christ occurred is known. For purposes of commemoration, however, it is unimportant whether the celebration shall fall or not at the precise anniversary of the joyous event. 
  28. (February 13, 2006). Christianity: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons. p. 15.  . For Christians, the precise date of the birth of Jesus is actually something of a non-issue. What really matters is that he was born as a human being, and entered into human history. 
  29. West's Federal Supplement.. 1990. While the Washington and King birthdays are exclusively secular holidays, Christmas has both secular and religious aspects. 
  30. , Associated Press, December 22, 2006. Retrieved November 18, 2009.
  31. ^ Cyril Charles Martindale,, in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908 (accessed December 21, 2012).
  32. Schoenborn, Christoph (1994). God's human face: the Christ-icon. p. 154.  . 
  33. Galey, John (1986). Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine. p. 92.  . 
  34. Christenmas, n.,. Retrieved December 12.
  35. ^ "Christmas" in the
  36. Griffiths, Emma,, BBC, December 22, 2004. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  37. ^,, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  38. "Midwinter" in
  39. Serjeantson, Mary Sidney,
  40. , Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 12.
  41. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 12.
  42. , Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. January 22, 2011.
  43. ^ "Christmas and its cycle", New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2002, Catholic University of America Press. Vol. 3, pp. 550–557.
  44. ^." MGH Chronica Minora I (1892), pp.71–72. See the first entry.
  45. ^ Durston, Chris, March 10, 2007, at the., History Today, December 1985, 35 (12) pp. 7 – 14.
  46. ^ Rowell, Geoffrey (December 1993)... 43 (12). Retrieved December 28, 2016. There is no doubt that A Christmas Carol is first and foremost a story concerned with the Christian gospel of liberation by the grace of God, and with incarnational religion which refuses to drive a wedge between the world of spirit and the world of matter. Both the Christmas dinners and the Christmas dinner-carriers are blessed; the cornucopia of Christmas food and feasting reflects both the goodness of creation and the joy of heaven. It is a significant sign of a shift in theological emphasis in the nineteenth century from a stress on the Atonement to a stress on the Incarnation, a stress which found outward and visible form in the sacramentalism of the Oxford Movement, the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival.... In the course of the century, under the influence of the Oxford Movement’s concern for the better observance of Christian festivals, Christmas became more and more prominent. By the later part of the century cathedrals provided special services and musical events, and might have revived ancient special charities for the poor – though we must not forget the problems for large: parish-church cathedrals like Manchester, which on one Christmas Day had no less than eighty couples coming to be married (the signing of the registers lasted until four in the afternoon). The popularity of Dickens' A Christmas Carol played a significant part in the changing consciousness of Christmas and the way in which it was celebrated. The popularity of his public readings of the story is an indication of how much it resonated with the contemporary mood, and contributed to the increasing place of the Christmas celebration in both secular and religious ways that was firmly established by the end of the nineteenth century. 
  47. McGowan, Andrew,, Bible History Daily, 12/02/2016.
  48. . Christianitytoday.com. August 8, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
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    Roll, p. 87.
  50. Augustine,.
  51. .
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  144. Ramet, Sabrina Petra (November 10, 2005). Religious Policy in the Soviet Union.. p. 138.  . The League sallied forth to save the day from this putative religious revival. Antireligioznik obliged with so many articles that it devoted an entire section of its annual index for 1928 to anti-religious training in the schools. More such material followed in 1929, and a flood of it the next year. It recommended what Lenin and others earlier had explicitly condemned—carnivals, farces, and games to intimidate and purge the youth of religious belief. It suggested that pupils campaign against customs associated with Christmas (including Christmas trees) and Easter. Some schools, the League approvingly reported, staged an anti-religious day on the 31st of each month. Not teachers but the League's local set the programme for this special occasion. 
  145. Zugger, Christopher Lawrence (2001). Catholics of the Soviet Empire from Lenin Through Stalin.. p. 210.  . As observed by Nicholas Brianchaninov, writing in 1929–1930, after the NEP and just as the worst of collectivization was beginning, the Soviets deemed it necessary to drive into the heads of the people the axiom that religion was the synthesis of everything most harmful to humanity. It must be presented as the enemy of man and society, of life and learning, of progress. ... In caricatures, articles, Bezbozhnik, Antireligioznik, League of Militant Atheists propaganda and films. School courses [were give] on conducting the struggle against religion (how to profane a church, break windows, objects of piety). The young, always eager to be with the latest trend, often responded to such propaganda. In Moscow in 1929 children were brought to spit on the crucifixes at Christmas. Priests in Tiraspol diocese were sometimes betrayed by their own young parishioners, leading to their imprisonment and even death, and tearing their families apart. 
  146. Goldberg, Carey (January 7, 1991)... Retrieved November 22, 2014. For the first time in more than seven decades, Christmas—celebrated today by Russian Orthodox Christians—is a full state holiday across Russia's vast and snowy expanse. As part of Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin's ambitious plan to revive the traditions of Old Russia, the republic's legislature declared last month that Christmas, long ignored under atheist Communist ideology, should be written back into the public calendar. "The Bolsheviks replaced crosses with hammers and sickles," said Vyacheslav S. Polosin, head of the Russian legislature's committee on religion. "Now they are being changed back." 
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Further reading

  • Bowler, Gerry, The World Encyclopedia of Christmas (October 2004: McClelland & Stewart).  
  • Bowler, Gerry, Santa Claus: A Biography (November 2007: McClelland & Stewart).  
  • Comfort, David, Just Say Noel: A History of Christmas from the Nativity to the Nineties (November 1995: Fireside).  
  • Count, Earl W., 4000 Years of Christmas: A Gift from the Ages (November 1997: Ulysses Press).  
  • Federer, William J., (December 2002: Amerisearch).  
  • Kelly, Joseph F., (August 2004: Liturgical Press).  
  • Miles, Clement A., (1976: Dover Publications).  
  • Nissenbaum, Stephen, The Battle for Christmas (1996; New York: Vintage Books, 1997).  
  • Restad, Penne L. (1995).. New York: Oxford University Press.  . 
  • Rosenthal, Jim, St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas (July 2006: Nelson Reference).  
  • Sammons, Peter (May 2006). The Birth of Christ. Glory to Glory Publications (UK).  . 
  • Wikisource "".. 6 (11th ed.). 1911. pp. 293–294. 

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