Christmas is the biggest festival of Christians. It is celebrated every year on 25th December to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. He is considered as the “Son Of God” in Christianity. However, nobody knows his real birth date. Neither is it written in Bible. Then, why was 25th December chosen to celebrate this festival? There are various theories to it. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on 25th December was during the time of Roman Empire. The Christmas date was officially declared by church bishops in Rome during the fourth century.
People in the Roman Empire used to worship Sun. They used to hold feast, build bonfires around the winter solstice in December (when the days are the shortest) to give strength to the Sun god. After the celebrations, the Romans would rejoice when it became apparent that the days have started growing longer. Hence, the church leaders decided to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth during winter solstice in order to Christianize these popular pagan celebrations.
Decorating the houses with tress and branches of trees was a common custom among Pagan and Christian during the winter solstice, as it made them think that spring had not yet passed. This too became a custom for Christmas. Fir, spruce, pine or an artificial tree of similar appearance is decorated with different traditional decorative ornaments like garland, tinsel, candy canes etc.
Exchanging gifts is another popular custom in Christmas. In Christianity, it is believed that Jesus Christ himself was a big present given to the world by God. As per a famous verse of Bible “God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life”. The main reason behind this custom is to remind us of the gifts given by the wise men to Jesus i.e. Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.
During Christmas friends and families present gifts to each other all over the world. Children believe that gifts during Christmas are given by a Christmas gift bringer like Santa Claus, St. Nicholas or Father Christmas who can give them the gifts of their own choice. It is also believed that Christmas gift bringer don’t give these gifts directly to them, but they are left in different places like shoes or boots put out by children, hanging stockings etc. “Secret Santa” is a popular way of gifting presents in group such as schools, colleges, work place etc. A name is pulled out of a container, and present is bought of that person whose name was pulled out. On Christmas Eve when the gifts are distributed, everybody gets a gift, but no one gets to know who bought the gift for them.
Christmas is a festival of merry making and spreading happiness. These customs and traditions are only a way to celebrate it, but they don’t bind us from doing anything new that can fill our life with more happiness. We can always find something new this Christmas to make sure that our Christmas holidays are filled up with cheer and wonder.