- Christmas the Day Jesus Was Born? ..Christmas Trees Around the World

Christmas the Day Jesus Was Born? ..Christmas Trees Around the World

Christmas, Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. The English term Christmas (“mass on Christ’s day”) is of fairly recent origin. The earlier term Yule may have derived from the Germanic jōl or the Anglo-Saxon geōl, which referred to the feast of the winter solstice. The corresponding terms in other languages—Navidad in Spanish, Natale in Italian, Noël in French—all probably denote nativity. The German word Weihnachten denotes “hallowed night.” Since the early 20th century, Christmas has also been a secular family holiday, observed by Christians and non-Christians alike, devoid of Christian elements, and marked by an increasingly elaborate exchange of gifts. In this secular Christmas celebration, a mythical figure named Santa Claus plays the pivotal role.

Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.

Is Christmas Really the Day Jesus Was Born?

In the early long periods of Christianity, Easter was the fundamental occasion; the introduction of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church authorities chose to organize the introduction of Jesus as a vacation. Tragically, the Book of scriptures doesn't make reference to date for his introduction to the world (a reality Puritans later called attention to so as to preclude the authenticity from securing the festival). Albeit some proof recommends that his introduction to the world may have happened in the spring (for what reason would shepherds group in winter?), Pope Julius I picked December 25. It is ordinarily accepted that the congregation picked this date with an end goal to receive and ingest the conventions of the agnostic Saturnalia celebration. First called the Banquet of the Nativity, the specially spread to Egypt by 432 and to Britain before the finish of the 6th century. 

Before the finish of the eighth century, the festival of Christmas had spread right to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian standard houses of worship, Christmas is praised 13 to 14 days after the 25th. This is on the grounds that Western chapels utilize the Gregorian Schedule, while Eastern Holy places utilize the Julian Schedule, which is 13 to 14 days behind the Gregorian Schedule. Both Western and Eastern places of worship observe Revelation or Three Rulers Day 12 days after their own separate Christmases. This is the day it is accepted that the three insightful men at last discovered Jesus in the trough. 

By holding Christmas simultaneously as conventional winter solstice celebrations, church pioneers expanded the odds that Christmas would be prevalently grasped, yet enabled up to direct how it was commended. By the Medieval times, Christianity had, generally, supplanted agnostic religion. On Christmas, adherents went to chapel, at that point celebrated boisterously in a plastered, jubilee like climate like the present Mardi Gras. Every year, a homeless person or understudy would be delegated the "master of mismanagement" and enthusiastic celebrants filled the role of his subjects. The poor would go to the places of the rich and request their best nourishment and drink. On the off chance that proprietors neglected to consent, their guests would probably threaten them with devilishness. Christmas turned into the season when the privileged societies could reimburse their genuine or envisioned "obligation" to society by engaging less lucky residents.

Washington Irving Reinvents Christmas

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s piqued American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.
A Christmas Carol

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and gifts-on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.
Who Invented Santa Claus?

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back to a monk named St. Nicholas who was born in Turkey around 280 A.D.. St. Nicholas gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick, becoming known as the protector of children and sailors.

St. Nicholas first entered American popular culture in the late 18th century in New York, when Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of the death of “Sint Nikolaas” (Dutch for Saint Nicholas), or “Sinter Klaas” for short. “Santa Claus” draws his name from this abbreviation.

In 1822, Episcopal minister Clement Clarke Moore wrote a Christmas poem called “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” more popularly known today by it’s first line: “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.” The poem depicted Santa Claus as a jolly man who flies from home to home on a sled driven by reindeer to deliver toys.

The iconic version of Santa Claus as a jolly man in red with a white beard and a sack of toys was immortalized in 1881, when political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore's poem to create the image of Old Saint Nick we know today.
How Did Christmas Trees Start?

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

Did you know? Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska.

In the Northern half of the globe, the most brief day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is known as the winter solstice. Numerous antiquated individuals accepted that the sun was a divine being and that winter came each year in light of the fact that the sun god had gotten wiped out and powerless. They praised the solstice since it implied that finally the sun god would start to recover. Evergreen branches helped them to remember all the green plants that would develop again when the sun god was solid and summer would return. 

The old Egyptians adored a divine being called Ra, who had the leader of a bird of prey and wore the sun as a blasting plate in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra started to recoup from his disease, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm surges, which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death. 

Early Romans denoted the solstice with a blowout called Saturnalia to pay tribute to Saturn, the divine force of agribusiness. The Romans realized that the solstice implied that soon, homesteads and plantations would be green and productive. To check the event, they improved their homes and sanctuaries with evergreen branches. 

In Northern Europe the puzzling Druids, the clerics of the old Celts, likewise improved their sanctuaries with evergreen branches as an image of everlasting life. The furious Vikings in Scandinavia imagined that evergreens were the exceptional plant of the sun god, Balder.

Christmas Trees Around the World

Christmas Trees in Canada
German settlers migrated to Canada from the United States in the 1700s. They brought with them many of the things associated with Christmas we cherish today—Advent calendars, gingerbread houses, cookies—and Christmas trees. When Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, put up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1848, the Christmas tree became a tradition throughout England, the United States, and Canada.

Christmas Trees in Mexico
In most Mexican homes the principal holiday adornment is el Nacimiento (Nativity scene). However, a decorated Christmas tree may be incorporated in the Nacimiento or set up elsewhere in the home. As purchase of a natural pine represents a luxury commodity to most Mexican families, the typical arbolito (little tree) is often an artificial one, a bare branch cut from a copal tree (Bursera microphylla) or some type of shrub collected from the countryside.

Christmas Trees in Great Britain
The Norway spruce is the traditional species used to decorate homes in Britain. The Norway spruce was a native species in the British Isles before the last Ice Age, and was reintroduced here before the 1500s.

Christmas Trees in Greenland
Christmas trees are imported, as no trees live this far north. They are decorated with candles and bright ornaments.

Christmas Trees in Guatemala
The Christmas tree has joined the “Nacimiento” (Nativity scene) as a popular ornament because of the large German population in Guatemala. Gifts are left under the tree on Christmas morning for the children. Parents and adults do not exchange gifts until New Year’s Day.

Christmas Trees in Brazil
Although Christmas falls during the summer in Brazil, sometimes pine trees are decorated with little pieces of cotton that represent falling snow.

Christmas Trees in Ireland
Christmas trees are bought anytime in December and decorated with colored lights, tinsel, and baubles. Some people favor the angel on top of the tree, others the star. The house is decorated with garlands, candles, holly, and ivy. Wreaths and mistletoe are hung on the door.

Christmas Trees in Sweden
Most people buy Christmas trees well before Christmas Eve, but it’s not common to take the tree inside and decorate it until just a few days before. Evergreen trees are decorated with stars, sunbursts, and snowflakes made from straw. Other decorations include colorful wooden animals and straw centerpieces.

Christmas Trees in Norway
Nowadays Norwegians often take a trip to the woods to select a Christmas tree, a trip that their grandfathers probably did not make. The Christmas tree was not introduced into Norway from Germany until the latter half of the 19th century; to the country districts it came even later. When Christmas Eve arrives, there is the decorating of the tree, usually done by the parents behind the closed doors of the living room, while the children wait with excitement outside. A Norwegian ritual known as “circling the Christmas tree” follows, where everyone joins hands to form a ring around the tree and then walk around it singing carols. Afterwards, gifts are distributed.

Christmas Trees in Ukraine
Celebrated on December 25th by Catholics and on January 7th by Orthodox Christians, Christmas is the most popular holiday in the Ukraine. During the Christmas season, which also includes New Year’s Day, people decorate fir trees and have parties.

Christmas Trees in Spain
A popular Christmas custom is Catalonia, a lucky strike game. A tree trunk is filled with goodies and children hit at the trunk trying to knock out the hazel nuts, almonds, toffee, and other treats.

Christmas Trees in Italy
In Italy, the presepio (manger or crib) represents in miniature the Holy Family in the stable and is the center of Christmas for families. Guests kneel before it and musicians sing before it. The presepio figures are usually hand-carved and very detailed in features and dress. The scene is often set out in the shape of a triangle. It provides the base of a pyramid-like structure called the ceppo. This is a wooden frame arranged to make a pyramid several feet high. Several tiers of thin shelves are supported by this frame. It is entirely decorated with colored paper, gilt pine cones, and miniature colored pennants. Small candles are fastened to the tapering sides. A star or small doll is hung at the apex of the triangular sides. The shelves above the manger scene have small gifts of fruit, candy, and presents. The ceppo is in the old Tree of Light tradition which became the Christmas tree in other countries. Some houses even have a ceppo for each child in the family.

Christmas Trees in Germany
Many Christmas traditions practiced around the world today started in Germany.

It has long been thought that Martin Luther began the tradition of bringing a fir tree into the home. According to one legend, late one evening, Martin Luther was walking home through the woods and noticed how beautifully the stars shone through the trees. He wanted to share the beauty with his wife, so he cut down a fir tree and took it home. Once inside, he placed small, lighted candles on the branches and said that it would be a symbol of the beautiful Christmas sky. The Christmas tree was born.

Another legend says that in the early 16th century, people in Germany combined two customs that had been practiced in different countries around the globe. The Paradise tree (a fir tree decorated with apples) represented the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The Christmas Light, a small, pyramid-like frame, usually decorated with glass balls, tinsel and a candle on top, was a symbol of the birth of Christ as the Light of the World. Changing the tree’s apples to tinsel balls and cookies and combining this new tree with the light placed on top, the Germans created the tree that many of us know today.

Modern Tannenbaum (Christmas trees) are traditionally decorated in secret with lights, tinsel and ornaments by parents and then lit and revealed on Christmas Eve with cookies, nuts and gifts under its branches.

Christmas Trees in South Africa
Christmas is a summer holiday in South Africa. Although Christmas trees are not common, windows are often draped with sparkling cotton wool and tinsel.

Christmas Trees in Saudi Arabia 
Christian Americans, Europeans, Indians, Filipinos, and others living here have to celebrate Christmas privately in their homes. Christmas lights are generally not tolerated. Most families place their Christmas trees somewhere inconspicuous.

Christmas Trees in Philippines
Fresh pine trees are too expensive for many Filipinos, so handmade trees in an array of colors and sizes are often used. Star lanterns, or parol, appear everywhere in December. They are made from bamboo sticks, covered with brightly colored rice paper or cellophane, and usually feature a tassel on each point. There is usually one in every window, each representing the Star of Bethlehem.

Christmas Trees in China
Of the small percentage of Chinese who do celebrate Christmas, most erect artificial trees decorated with spangles and paper chains, flowers, and lanterns. Christmas trees are called “trees of light.”

Christmas Trees in Japan
For most of the Japanese who celebrate Christmas, it’s purely a secular holiday devoted to the love of their children. Christmas trees are decorated with small toys, dolls, paper ornaments, gold paper fans and lanterns, and wind chimes. Miniature candles are also put among the tree branches. One of the most popular ornaments is the origami swan. Japanese children have exchanged thousands of folded paper “birds of peace” with young people all over the world as a pledge that war must not happen again.

Santa Claus Around The World 

18th-century America’s Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. There are similar figures and Christmas traditions around the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning “Christ child,” Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children’s stockings with holiday treats. Père Noël is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Russia, it is believed that an elderly woman named Babouschka purposely gave the wise men wrong directions to Bethlehem so that they couldn’t find Jesus. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven. In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children.

Christmas Traditions in the United States

In the US, Santa Clause Claus is regularly delineated as flying from his home to home on Christmas Eve to convey toys to kids. He flies on his enchantment sleigh drove by his reindeer: Dasher, Artist, Prancer, Lady, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and the most well known reindeer of all, Rudolph. Santa Clause enters each home through the smokestack, which is the reason void Christmas leggings—when void socks, presently frequently committed tights made for the event—are "hung by the Stack with care, with the expectation that St. Nicholas before long would be there," as Lenient Clarke Moore wrote in his well known sonnet. Leggings can be loaded up with sweet sticks and different treats or little toys. 

Santa Clause Claus and his better half, Mrs. Claus, call the North Shaft home, and kids compose letters to Santa Clause and keep tabs on Santa Clause's development around the globe on Christmas Eve. Youngsters regularly leave treats and milk for Santa Clause and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve. Santa Clause Claus keeps an "insidious rundown" and a "decent rundown" to figure out who merits presents on Christmas morning, and guardians frequently conjure these rundowns as an approach to guarantee their youngsters are on their best conduct. The rundowns are deified in the 1934 Christmas melody "Santa Clause Claus is coming to Town": 

"He's creation a rundown 

Furthermore, checking it twice; 

Going to discover Who's shrewd and pleasant 

Santa Clause Claus is coming to town 

He sees you when you're resting 

He realizes when you're alert 

He knows whether you've been terrible or great 

So be useful for the love of all that is pure and holy!"