Christmas is the most significant Christian festival celebrated with much fanfare and divine spirit. Get more details on Christmas celebrations.
Christmas Festival - The word 'Christmas' is a modern version of the old English term ‘Cristes Maesse’, which refers to Mass of Christ. Christmas Day is celebrated on 25th December to mark the birth of the infant Christ and to convey his message of love and eternal life of the soul. The twelve days between Christmas and the Epiphany relate to the baptism of baby Jesus.
Christmas is the most significant festival for the Christian community and has acquired prominence even in non-Christian communities. Today, Christmas has evolved into a week-long festival of nostalgia, family get-togethers, charitable dos and musical sojourns. Christmas is an opportunity for soaking in its quaint traditions and endearing rituals. The soul-stirring festive occasion not only sends a wave of joy to people all around, it brings into its fold even non-practicing Christians. Imbued with the spirit of love, sharing and togetherness, Christmas festival touches everyone’s hearts.
Many Christmas beliefs and rituals owe allusions to pre-Christian, pagan and Norse traditions. The legends and myths of the Yule log and Santa Claus has Celtic roots. The Norse god Odin, believed to reside in the far north is associated with Santa Claus riding on the sleigh. The Nimrod Tree, a pagan symbol for the re-emergence of the sun, has now been replaced by wreaths, branches, boughs, and trees. Decorating trees and dancing around the trees were part of the many rituals to celebrate the winter solstice as was the fire festival called Yule.
Some typical symbolic decorations include the Christmas tree, lights, streamers, poinsettia flowers, candles, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. The red and green colours of Christmas signifying passion and fertility are as ubiquitous as red berries and green leaves of holly. The legend of kissing under the mistletoe tree owes to the practice of calling truce between soldiers in Norse mythology.
Significance of Christmas
While the whole season is imbued with the infectious spirit of conviviality and verve, Christmas day celebrations are quite unlike any other. Christmas shares some of its customs with the harvest festivals of Ancient Rome. Attending midnight mass, gatherings and feasting, placing evergreens in the house, and singing boisterous songs are some of the customs that have endured till date. Also, Christmas is a time for reaching out to people in need. Thus, Christmas is about giving people hope. Gift-giving and spending time with family and friends is a way of sharing and letting joy flow. Above all, Christmas is about personal thoughtfulness, rising up to human emotions and awareness, and making sure the heart feels a burst of joy from giving.
Christmas celebration reflects a fusion of historical rites and heartfelt emotions. Christmas celebrates the idea of warmth and closeness of family relationships, friendship and all human bonds and brings hope. Even as one indulges in decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts and singing Christmas carols, it is a time for giving and letting go. Beautiful music, great food, stunning decoration, soft lighting and Christmas carols herald the onset of Christmas.
The Christmas season allows people to give wings to their imagination in whatever they do to celebrate this special time of the year. On Christmas, people exchange Christmas cards to wish each other. They write inspiring quotes and send keepsakes. So, shopping for gifts and making special effort to send greeting cards starts much ahead. The spirit of Christmas comes alive in various group activities that include decorating, putting up lights whipping up Christmas pudding, cakes and pies, hanging a wreath, singing Christmas poems and carols and planning a get-together or a Christmas party. Thus, Christmas is a time to rejoice and soak in family traditions, meet relatives and invite friends to a Christmas lunch, brunch or dinner. Christmas meals include a lavish spread of specialty dishes along with desserts and wine.
Children love to hear stories about Rudolph the Reindeer, snowman, the star, and Saint Nicholas, who is associated with protecting children, sailors and helping the needy. Variously called ‘Sinter Klaas’, ‘Father Christmas’, ‘Père Noël’ or ‘St. Nicholas’, Santa Claus has fired the imagination of every child. Reassured in their belief, children write letters to Santa about their closest dreams.
In several parts of the world, people weave these small traditions around their own setting and cultural moors. People everywhere decorate Christmas trees in their homes and put glowing lights during Christmas. School holidays last a week. Workplaces organize theme-based Christmas parties ahead of Christmas Day and give a day off on account of Christmas. Churches have special Christmas Day services and these comprise Christmas choirs, speeches, life-like miniature Nativity scene, and greetings. Church services are also shown on TV channels.