There’s something magical in the air that unmistakably tells us Christmas is on its way. A festival that is celebrated all over the world is approaching, as indicated by the chill that descends, the crisp scent of pine needles, and the faint sounds of carols wafting through the air. Christmas is more than just a date on the calendar; it’s a dynamic mosaic of cherished traditions and long-standing customs that have moulded it throughout the ages. Let’s cosy up with a warm drink and journey through the history of the Christmas festival, the origin of Christmas, its rich traditions, and some interesting facts about Christmas day.
Unwrapping Christmas: History of Christmas festival
Peeling back over 2000 years, the origin of Christmas is a chronicle wrapped in different beliefs and cultural rituals. At its heart, Christmas is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. But, here’s a little secret: the exact date of Jesus’ birth isn’t mentioned in the Bible. Why December 25th then? Historians believe it was a clever move by the early church. They chose this date because it coincided with already popular pagan festivities that celebrated the winter solstice.
Back in the days of the Roman Empire, December 25th marked the winter solstice according to the Julian calendar. It was also the day of the ‘Invincible Sun’ or Sol Invictus, a time to honour the sun’s return. Clever, right? By picking this date for Christmas, the early Christians neatly packaged the birth of Christ into a day the Roman world was already partying on, smoothing the path for Christianity to flourish.
Christmas Customs: A Colourful Collage
Fast forward a few centuries, and the spread of Christianity brought with it the sprouting of new traditions, blossoming into the Christmas we all love and look forward to.
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! Let’s talk about the star of the season – the Christmas tree. This beloved tradition has its roots tangled in ancient times, when people decorated their homes with evergreen branches to keep away witches, ghosts, and ill health during the winter solstice. Fast forward to 16th-century Germany, and the Christmas tree as we know it began to take shape. Devout Christians started the trend of bringing decorated trees into their homes, a custom that spread like wildfire and became a global symbol of Christmas cheer.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town No Christmas is complete without the lovable Santa Claus, but did you know he started as St. Nicholas, a generous bishop from the 3rd century in what is now Turkey? Known for his kindness and miraculous deeds, St. Nicholas’s legend took on a life of its own over the centuries, borrowing from different cultures. Finally, it culminated in the rosy-cheeked, white-bearded Santa Claus who sleighs in every year to fill our stockings and hearts with joy.
Christmas Carols Carolling has its roots in the tradition of wassailing, a practice in ancient England where people would toast to each other’s health and prosperity. The singing of Christmas carols, as a form of heartwarming songs that tell the story of the Nativity, started gaining popularity around the 13th century, spearheaded by St. Francis of Assisi.
The Spread of Christmas to India The arrival of Christianity in India is attributed to the Apostle Thomas, who is believed to have landed in Kerala in 52 AD. However, the widespread celebration of Christmas in India was brought about much later by European colonists. Today, Christmas in India is a harmonious blend of global traditions and local customs, making it a unique festival that transcends religious boundaries.
Interesting Facts About Christmas Day
Christmas, while universally recognised, has an array of interesting facts that add to its allure:
December 25th Was Not Always a Holiday While today we cannot imagine the end of December without Christmas, in the early years of Christianity, the birth of Jesus was not celebrated at all. It was only in the 4th century that the church officially decided to observe Christmas on December 25th.
Japan’s Christmas Chicken Thanks to a successful marketing campaign in 1974, eating KFC chicken has become a Christmas tradition in Japan. It’s so popular that orders have to be placed months in advance!
Christmas Celebrations in India
Christmas in India is a time when the nation’s vast diversity coalesces into a shared celebration. While Christians make up a small percentage of the country’s population, Christmas Day has been embraced with enthusiasm across various communities. Here’s how Christmas is celebrated in India:
Midnight Mass A significant tradition is the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Churches across India hold this mass, which is attended by thousands of people, regardless of their religion, reflecting India’s secular fabric.
Festive Decorations Indian Christians light up their homes with beautiful clay lamps, decorate banana or mango trees, and some also have traditional Christmas trees. In places like Goa, entire neighbourhoods come together to decorate their areas, making for a very communal celebration.
Indian Christmas Cuisine The culinary practices during Christmas in India showcase a blend of local flavours with traditional Christmas recipes. Plum cakes, rose cookies, and the rich flavours of ‘Bebinca’ from Goa are some of the unique delicacies.
While we cherish the history of Christmas, the various Christmas traditions, and partake in the myriad traditions, it’s also a time to reflect on the values the festival espouses – love, generosity, and kinship. This is where EuroKids, a pioneer in early childhood education in India, plays an essential role.
EuroKids ensures that the spirit of Christmas is not just confined to a day or a season but is a living experience for children throughout their learning journey. To learn more about our specially crafted curriculum, visit the nearest EuroKids centre today!
In conclusion, the history of Christmas is not just a story of a festival’s origins but a narrative of human civilization itself. It’s a testament to how we have woven diverse threads into a rich cultural tapestry. Christmas traditions and the interesting facts about Christmas Day remind us of our shared humanity and the importance of preserving these traditions for future generations.
As we celebrate Christmas in India, let’s remember to infuse the values of this festive season into our everyday lives. Let’s endeavour to keep the spirit of giving, compassion, and unity alive, just as EuroKids strives to inculcate these timeless values in the hearts of our children. May the story of Christmas continue to inspire and bring joy to all.
Merry Christmas, and may your celebrations be as vibrant and heartwarming as the history behind this beloved festival!