What Is Christmas - A Brief Introduction
An explanation of Christmas
As you know Christmas is celebrated on the 25th December. In the US families awake to then distribute the gifts left under the tree by Santa Claus that morning. Often many attend church either on Christmas Eve or Morning. Then many will gather together with many of their family for dinner.
This is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by Mary in that humble stable in Bethlehem. It is a holiday where we celebrate the many events that surround his birth, such as the arrival of the 3 wise men. or the angel Gabriel appearing to the shepherds and telling them that they should visit the newborn king. Yet in countries like Spain they opt to celebrate Christmas at the beginning of January (6th).
Yet the Church doesn't consider this to be the most important holiday in the Christian calendar. But it is certainly the most popular when it comes to its social and cultural significance.
In fact when it comes to wanting to know what is Christmas you really need to look back in history to pagan times. As this event has it origins here and was a pagan holiday. The date of the 25th December was selected so it could line up with other Roman pagan holidays. These were ones that were there to celebrate the winter solstice as well as worship the sun.
You'll find that the majority of the customs we see as normal now at Christmas, giving of gifts, decorating the tree and your home. Plus feasting all come from sources that have no relationship whatsoever with the church.
As from Father Christmas or Santa Claus again you'll find that he comes from a number of different sources. The first known idea of this legendary hero appears in the 4th Century. Stories are told of a Greek Christian Figure (Saint Nicholas of Myra) who was known for being generous to the poor.
Also again when it comes to what is Christmas you'll find that figures like Santa Claus appears in religious documents. These documents are ones from Germany and other parts of Northern Europe where Christianity had not yet taken a hold.
As for the US it seems that our version of Santa Claus is most likely to have originated from a legend from Holland regarding a character known as Sinter Klaas. This is a legend that was brought by those who chose to settle in the New World in the 17th Century.
As you can imagine the idea was soon embraced by Americans. Today Santa Claus embodies to many Americans the spirit of giving. Often they don't just give gifts to those they love but many now choose to donate not just money but time to good causes.
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