Significance of Christmas
Significance of Christmas
Christians all over the world celebrate Christmas on December 25 to honor Jesus Christ's birthday. Jesus was the Son of God, as per the Christiam holy book, the Bible.

Christians all over the world celebrate Christmas on December 25 to honor Jesus Christ's birthday. Jesus was the Son of God, as per the Christiam holy book, the Bible. It is a celebration of love, peace, generosity, kindness, brotherhood, compassion, and familial bonding. The word ‘Christmas’ is from the Old English ‘Cristes Maese’ (Christ’s Mass). Jesus Christ is also known as Jesus of Nazareth. He founded the religion of Christianity.


A Virgin Birth


The Bible describes the miraculous events around the conception and birth of Jesus. He was born to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and his wife, Mary. But he was miraculously conceived by his mother, and hence she is known as Virgin Mary. His birth was in Bethlehem, but he grew up in Nazareth. John, the Baptist, baptized him. After growing up, Jesus went around talking about the need for religious reform and preaching the message of divine love.


Christianity is all about the life, teachings, and death of Jesus. There are three main Christian sects. They are the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant church, and the Eastern Orthodox church. Christianity was born as a movement within Judaism, the religion of the Jews. Jesus and his disciples or Apostles were actually Jews. His followers accepted him as the ‘Christ’ or the Chosen One, who God sent sent to fulfill his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


The Gospels


Jesus Christ’s teachings were collected and consolidated in the Gospels. There are four gospels totally. Apostles St. Mathew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John were the compilers. They are about the life and teachings of Christ. The word ‘gospel’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon term ‘god-spell’, which means ‘good story’.


The sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity comprise the Bible. The Christian Bible has both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. But the Jewish Bible contains only the Old Testament. The New Testament is a shorter version of the Christian Bible. Like the Old Testament, it is also a collection of books and includes a variety of Christian literature.


Origin of Christmas festivities


The early Christians did not celebrate Christmas. However, there was a tradition of celebrating a saint’s birth into eternal life. Hence, Good Friday (Christ’s death) and Easter Sunday (the day of his Resurrection) were more important. Other than Christmas, the Christian Church also celebrates the birthdays of Virgin Mary and John the Baptist.


As per a Roman Almanac, by 336 AD, Christmas was being celebrated in Rome. But people celebrated the festival on January 6 in the eastern part of the ancient Roman Empire. This was done to commemorate the manifestation of God in the birth as well as the baptism of Jesus Christ. In the 4th century AD, most Eastern churches began to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth on December 25. The reason could be that they wanted it to coincide with the Roman festival, 'dies natalis solis invicti'. The phrase means 'the birthday of the unconquered Sun'. The birthday of Mithra, the Iranian God also called the ‘Sun of Righteousnes’., also fell on the same day.


The 19th century was a period of Christian missions as the followers of Christianity took the faith to all corners of the world. But the Malabar Christians of Kerala claim to have been converted by the Apostle St. Thomas during the beginning of the first century AD. St. Thomas supposedly arrived in Kerala in 52 AD and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ. In Kerala, there are 4 major Christian sects - Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, Syrian Jacobite, and Mar Thomite.


Christmas Traditions


From the European Middle Ages onwards, people used firs, evergreens, and lights as part of Christmas celebrations. They symbolize warmth, survival, and eternal life. People exchange gifts, as well. Children believe that it is Santa Claus who leaves the gifts in stockings under the Christmas tree. Santa Claus is the patron saint of Christmas and is also called Father Christmas in the UK. The myth of Santa Claus is inspired by Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian saint who was known for his generosity and kindness. Saint Nicholas is also seen as a benevolent, gift-giving figure in many European countries and the United States.


It is also the custom to send Christmas cards as an expression of goodwill. The first Christmas card was probably designed in England in 1843. For the Christmas Tree, a balsam or douglas fir is usually used. It is decorated with lights and ornaments. The Chinese, Hebrews, and Egyptians were known to use wreaths, evergreen trees, etc., as symbols of eternal life, since ancient times.


The modern Christmas tree’s origin was in West Germany. It was introduced in England in the early 19th century. Christmas trees soon became popular in Poland, Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands around the same time. In the 19th and 20th centuries, western missionaries introduced them in China and Japan.


Significance of Christmas


H. G. Wells felt that Jesus Christ was the most influential person who dwelt on earth. Jesus was God’s gift to humanity. God sacrificed his own son to redeem the sins of human beings. Christ spread the message of love, brotherhood, and compassion on earth. The spirit of Christmas is all about selflessness and forgiveness. It is a time to be charitable, generous, and more accepting. Christmas reminds us of those who lack the things we possess in plenty and inspires us to share what we have with them. It is a time for healing when broken relationships can be mended again. Christmas makes us want to become better versions of ourselves and become more like Christ, who loved people without judging them and who gave of himself generously to those who needed him.