Here are some interesting facts about Christmas from our friends at justfunfacts.com :)
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.
Many Orthodox Christians annually celebrate Christmas on or near January 7. This date works to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the Gregorian calendar, which is commonly observed.
The New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth. The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.
For the first three centuries of Christianity’s existence, Jesus Christ’s birth wasn’t celebrated at all. The religion’s most significant holidays were Epiphany on January 6, which commemorated the arrival of the Magi after Jesus’ birth, and Easter, which celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. The first official mention of December 25 as a holiday honoring Jesus’ birthday appears in an early Roman calendar from 336 A.D.
However, there are many different traditions and theories as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th.
A very early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby, Jesus (called the Annunciation) was on March 25th – and it’s still celebrated today on the 25th March. Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th December!
December 25 is also exactly nine months following the Crucifixion of Jesus, which, around the 3rd century, became associated with his conception based on understandings at the time of the way salvation is bound up in birth and death; some theories then had the date of the Crucifixion as his birthday, others took the date nine months later: Christmas day.
Adoration of the Shepherds
Some people also think that December 25th might have also been chosen because the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals called ‘Saturnalia’ and ‘Dies Natalis Solis Invicti’ took place in December around this date – so it was a time when people already celebrated things.
December 25 was the date the Romans marked as the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, and the first day in which the days would begin to elongate and the Sun would have a longer presence in the sky; Jesus was identified with the Sun based on an Old Testament verse.
The story of the Nativity, or the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, are particularly important in religious celebrations of Christmas.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins.
Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, viewing a Nativity play, an exchange of Christmas cards, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.
It is sometimes said that the tradition of gift-giving started with the Three Wise Men, who visited Jesus and gave him gifts of myrrh, frankincense, and gold. If you want to start a Christmas tradition, I suppose the first Christmas would be a good date to start.
Three Wise Men
Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved children on Christmas Eve (24 December) and the early morning hours of Christmas Day (25 December). He accomplishes this feat with the aid of his elves, who make the toys in his workshop at the North Pole, and his flying reindeer, who pull his sleigh. The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas (himself also based on Saint Nicholas).
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas. Modern Christmas trees originated during the Renaissance of early modern Germany. Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther who is said to have first added lighted candles to an evergreen tree. The tree was traditionally decorated with “roses made of colored paper, apples, wafers, tinsel and sweetmeats”, with the apples and round ornaments representing the fruit of knowledge of good and evil from the Book of Genesis in the Christian Bible.
A special Christmas family meal 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 Sicily, 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 Christmas pudding, mince pies, fruit cake and Yule log cake.
A Christmas card is a greeting card sent as part of the traditional celebration of Christmas in order to convey between people a range of sentiments related to the Christmas and holiday season. The custom of sending Christmas cards was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He was a senior civil servant (Government worker) who had helped set-up the new ‘Public Record Office’ (now called the Post Office), where he was an Assistant Keeper, and wondered how it could be used more by ordinary people.
Christmas music comprises a variety of genres of music normally performed or heard around the Christmas season. Music associated with Christmas may be purely instrumental, or in the case of many carols or songs may employ lyrics whose subject matter ranges from the nativity of Jesus Christ, to gift-giving and merrymaking, to cultural figures such as Santa Claus, among other topics.
“Christmas” is a shortened form of “Christ’s mass”. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131.
Xmas is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas. The “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is “Christ”. The “-mas” part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass. There is a common misconception that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas”, but its use dates back to the 16th century.
English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.
The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making it the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world.
The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.
The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.
Wreaths made with holly and small red berries symbolize Jesus’s crucifixion. The pointy holly leaves signify the crown of thorns and the little berries represent the drops of blood the sharp thorns caused.
“Silent Night” is the most recorded Christmas song in history, with over 733 different versions copyrighted since 1978.
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby is the best-selling Christmas song ever.
“Jingle Bells” was the first song broadcast from space by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally
The Beatles hold the record for most Christmas number 1 singles, topping the charts in 1963, 65 and 67.
7 is the number of Lego sets that are sold every second. During Christmas, almost 28 sets are sold
Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone.
Christmas was not an official holiday in Cuba until 1997. Pope John Paul II visited the country in 1998, and in order to prepare for his visit, Cuba declared Christmas a national holiday.
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