ORIGINS OF THE CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS?

This is my first post that has no link to cinemas. I mean yes Cinemas has been made on the story of Christ’s life. But that’s not why I’m writing on Christmas.

So, why am I writing? You’ll know soon. First, let’s just listen to this piece of instrumental music for “O Holy Night’’, a Christmas carol I have attached below, for you to listen along as you read to find out about the origins of the Christmas traditions. It’s composed by Peder B. Helland.

I’m aware that most of you see Christmas as a festival of coming together as a family, exchanging gifts, and decorating Christmas trees and putting up socks for Santa Claus to arrive and secretly puts into it gifts for children if they have the reputation of being the well-behaved children. This wasn’t always the case. This concept emerged as a pop-culture among the people in the late 19th century and became a Christmas tradition.

What does ‘ Christmas ‘ really mean?

The name Christmas comes from the Mass of Christ. Mass service is a communion held at churches. It is held for the Christian community to collectively remember Jesus’s sacrifice for them and how he died and came back to life for them.

25th December is a significant day for the Christians and Non-Christians all over the world as they remember Christ for the sacrifices he made and most importantly, he was sent by God on earth on this day as Mary’s boy child, Jesus to protect the people.

But was he really born on this day? Probably Not.

For your information, The Holy Bible never mentioned 25th December as his birthdate. Gospels narrated stories related to his birth but none of the stories mentioned anything that could point to December as his birth month.

So then, have you ever wondered how and why this day came to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus, The Saviour?

As of now, I have been able to use only the internet for research purposes and this yielded some results. I found a theory that had prompted the Christians to pick 25th December for the Christmas celebration.

JESUS, THE SON OF GOD.

 He was considered the son of God. Since God only has the power to light up your life and can guide you, without expecting anything in return from you. Jesus’s deeds in his life made people consider him almost an equivalent of God, hence, he was seen as a son of God.

According to one of the pagan traditions, people chose the date of 25th December to celebrate the birth of Sun God. This date was considered in Northern Hemisphere as the Winter solstice. The length of the day just gets longer from this day onwards, symbolizing the rebirth of Sun God. People gathered together to rejoice and feast to honor him on his birthdate.

This concept of worshipping the Sun God may have originated in the land that later came to be known as India and then spread to Persia and other places in the far west. The Vedas, particularly Rig Veda and also Brahmanas, mentioned Mitra, a divinity which was then associated with the light of dawn, the morning sun. In the post-Vedic era, Mitra evolved into the patron divinity of friendship who abhors all violence and protects you whenever his protection is needed. Rigveda was composed in about 1500 BCE whereas the pagan tradition related to Sun God originated in Egypt in about 1400 BCE.

To say the truth, Jesus was no less than a Sun God to the Christians as he too illuminated their life. He was also referred to as The Sun of God at times. The catholic church later adopted this date to celebrate his birthday as he was seen as the illuminator of the world, much like the Sun. This date was chosen purely because of how Jesus symbolized the Sun and the God, who also illuminates your life with lights in form of guidance as you pray to him for it.

Now, you do realize, don’t you? That the ancient people, all over the world worshipped natural phenomena like the celestial objects such as the sun and the moon; and the terrestrial objects like the air, water, fire, etc to honor them for bestowing the people with basic necessities. This kind of worshipping was a universal concept until different religions were formed. I am of the opinion that almost all religions bear some similarities as they all influenced each other.

Jesus’ birth wasn’t celebrated at all at the beginning of Christianity. They mostly celebrated Easter in remembrance of Jesus’s Resurrection until the church declared the 25th of December as Christmas. Even then, people didn’t celebrate it the way they do now. Yes, there would be mass services on this day but the grand Christmas celebration wasn’t a thing back then.

How did they celebrate Christmas? You’ll soon know the answer to this question too, but I’ll have to tell you about another infamous Christmas tradition before that.

SAINT NICHOLAS – THE SECRET SAVIOUR

 Sir St.Nicholas aka Santa Claus existed in 4th century A.D. He was an early Christian bishop of Greek Descent.  He was actually a lean-looking man who was known as Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was also famous for performing miracles which was the result of his prayers for other people. He gained a name for that – Nicholas the Wonderworker.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nicholas’ Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). Some say children mispronounced his name and called him Santa Claus.

His habit of secretly giving gifts to people was legendary. He was in fact a very generous man yet humble and modest in characteristics. He loved to help people, especially needy people but never in public just to save them for humiliation attached to the act of accepting charity.

When his parents passed away, he distributed all their wealth to the poor and needy people. He helped countless people but among them, one story stood out. The legend goes like there was a rich man who had lost all his wealth later and couldn’t afford proper dowries for his three daughters. As we all know, how dowries were big deal back then, I mean some people even kill these days for non-payment of dowries, so you can imagine the plight of his daughters back then. When Nicholas heard of it, he decided to help them but not publicly. He planned to do it secretly one night. On the planned night, he threw a purse filled with gold coins through the window. The man’s first daughter was married off with that wealth. Then Nicholas repeated the same thing for the other daughters. He had nothing to do with Christmas Day but of course, he was a good Christian, a bishop to say the least.

This piece of information inspired Clement Clarke Moore to write a poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas in 1823. This poem is also known Twas the night before Christmas, which is the first line of the poem.

This poem tells the tale of a father who hung stockings by the chimney in hope of getting a visit from St.Nicholas who was known for his generosity and gift-giving. The father heard a noise out on the lawn on the night before Christmas and saw Nicholas having arrived with his eight reindeers. Indeed, he came and filled the stockings with gifts. Before he left, he wished him, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

St.Nicholas as painted by Jaroslav Cermak.

The poem described Nicholas as a man with a beard as white as snow, cheeks like roses, dressed in red fur covering him from head to toe, held a pipe tightly with his teeth, calling him a chubby man, like a jolly old elf. You get the picture in your head yet? That’s the image the poet created of him. He was nothing like that in reality.

 I found a picture of him where he looked lean and tall. This was a painting of him, made by the 19th century Painter Jaroslav Cermak. His depiction or portrayal of the saint is somewhat accurate I think as I found it to match the description made by the human anatomy professor, Luigi Martino who studied the remains of Nicholas in the late 1950s.

This poem is responsible for bringing on the conception of Santa Claus and the tradition of exchanging gifts on Christmas day. It became popular in the mid 19th century in The United States and soon spread all over the world.

Earlier, Christians would remember Christ and help the poor and less fortunate people without expecting anything in return from them, in the memory of Christ. Yes, this is the answer to that question.

So, there you have it. This day has people celebrating things that never really has anything to do with this date. Yet I must say that it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Why should it? People just invented a reason, albeit a beautiful one, to come together and bond on this day over a shared love for Christ and Saint Nicholas.

Hope you had a good time reading this post.

Here’s wishing you, folks, a Merry Christmas filled with moments of love, laughter, and goodwill!

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