Christmas comes from Christ-Mass, the Church (Mass) that celebrated the birth of Jesus (Christ).
When and for how much time is Christmas celebrated?
- It’s generally known and accepted that Christmas is celebrated on 25 December every year. But in many places around the globe, it’s a celebration of more than one day. Also, some other places have some other dates marked in their calendars to celebrate Christmas. Some orthodox churches use a different calendar for the celebration of Christmas. Some of the churches in Russia, Serbia, Jerusalem, Ukraine, Ethiopia and so on use the ‘Julian’ calendar, and therefore, celebrate Christmas on 7 January.
- Before Christmas, many Christians use the time of Advent to prepare themselves to celebrate the auspicious festival. Advent is normally a period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas. In most of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics Churches, Advent lasts for 40 days, starting from November 15th. Churches which celebrate Christmas on 7th January, the Advent start on 28th November. During Advent, many people fast by not eating certain kinds of foods. The types of food depend upon people’s traditions.
- After Advent, there are 12 Days of Christmas (time of feasting and fun) which is traditionally celebrated. These celebrations are ended on the evening of 5th January, which is also known as Twelfth Night.
- After the Twelfth Night, on 6th January, is Epiphany. On this day, people remember the Wise Men (The Three Kings) who visited Jesus when he was a baby; and the Baptism of Jesus when he turned an adult. On this day, people generally put down their Christmas decorations.
- After Christmas and Epiphany, Christmas celebrations end with Candlemas on February 2nd, after 40 days of Christmas. The purpose of Candlemas is to remember the time when Mary and Joseph took their baby Jesus to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem so as to thank God for giving them a son.
Christmas Eve Traditions:
- One of the most widely practised traditions is to go to a Midnight Mass Church Service. This is the most important Church service during the Christmas season.
- Christmas Eve is the day when people exchange their presents. It is prevalent in some countries, like Germany, Sweden and Portugal.
- On Christmas Eve, Christmas tree is brought into the house and is then decorated. It is followed in many European countries including Germany, Serbia and Slovakia.
- Another tradition is to bring the Yule Log into the house and light it. It is done by using a piece of the previous year’s log. It is kept burning until the Twelfth Night
Why Candles for Christmas?
If we go back to the history of middle ages, a large candle was used to portray as the star of Bethlehem as Jesus is sometimes called ‘the Light of the World’ by the Christians.
Candles were also formerly used to decorate Christmas Trees, until safer electric lights were invented for the same.
History of Christmas Cards:
The custom of sending Christmas cards was started in 1943 by Sir Henry Cole in the UK. Sir Henry developed the idea of Christmas Cards with his friend John Horsley, who was an artist and ultimately, they both bought the originality of card into existence. The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people’s concern for the poor and in the centre panel there was a family who was having a feast.
The first postal service that ordinary people could use to post cards and letters was started in 1840 when the first ‘Penny Post’ public postal deliveries began. Before that, only rich people could avail the opportunities of posting something. Cards became even more popular in UK when they were available to be posted in an unsealed envelope for one halfpenny which is half the price of an ordinary letter.