> Christmas Day
|Christmas Day is an annual Christian
and secular holiday that celebrates the birth of
Jesus Christ, along with themes such as family,
goodwill, giving and compassion. Christmas traditions
include Nativity scenes, the exchange of gifts,
the arrival of Santa Claus, Christmas cards and
decorations and the display of Christmas trees.
The word Christmas is derived from Christemasse
and Cristes mæsse which is a contraction meaning
Christmas is traditionally celebrated on December
25 which is preceded by Christmas Eve. Some Eastern
Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on January
7, which matches to December 25 of the Julian calendar.
These dates are simply traditional and neither is
thought to be the actual birthdate of Jesus Christ.
|The Nativity refers to the birth
of Jesus. According to Bible, Jesus was born to
the Virgin Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph,
in the city of Bethlehem. The birth took place in
a stable, surrounded by farm animals, and the infant
Jesus was laid in a manger. Shepherds from the fields
surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by
an angel, and were the first to see the child. Christians
believe that the birth of Jesus fulfilled many prophecies
made hundreds of years before his birth.
Remembering or re-creating the Nativity is one of
the central ways that Christians celebrate Christmas.
In some Christian churches, children perform plays
re-telling the events of the Nativity. Nativity
scenes traditionally include the Three Wise Men,
Balthassar, Melchior, and Caspar, who are said to
have presented gifts to Jesus shortly after his
|The evergreen fir tree has been
used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands
of years. When fir trees were first used as Christmas
trees is not known. It probably started about 1000
years ago in Northern Europe.
The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into
a house may have been the 16th century German preacher
Martin Luther. A story is told that, one night before
Christmas, he was walking through the forest and
looked up to see the stars shining through the tree
branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home
and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus,
who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at
Another story says that St. Boniface of Crediton
left England and traveled to Germany to preach to
the pagan German tribes and convert them to Christianity.
He is said to have come across a group of pagans
about to sacrifice a young boy while worshipping
an oak tree. In anger, and to stop the sacrifice,
St. Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree
and, to his amazement, a young fir tree sprang up
from the roots of the oak tree. St. Boniface took
this as a sign of the Christian faith and his followers
decorated the tree with candles so that St. Boniface
could preach to the pagans at night.
Another legend says that once on a cold Christmas
Eve in Germany, a forester and his family were in
their lodge gathered round the fire to keep warm.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. When the
forester opened the door, he found a poor little
boy standing on the door step, lost and alone. The
forester welcomed him into his house and the family
fed and washed him and put him to bed in the youngest
sons own bed. The next morning, on Christmas, the
family were woken up by a choir of angels, and the
poor little boy had turned into Jesus, the Christ
child. The Christ child went into the front garden
of the lodge and broke a branch off a fir tree and
gave it to the family as a present to say thank
you for looking after him. So ever since them, people
have remembered that night by bringing a Christmas
Tree into their homes.
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