December is magical, as December approaches everyone gets excited about the winter holidays and Christmas. Anyone would believe in the magic of Christmas; when adorable Santa comes to visit at daycare schools, nursing homes, orphanages, hospitals; even someone would become a secret Santa, nothing is more exciting than receiving the desired gift secretly. Christian or non-Christian every one especially children is enthusiastic on Christmas. Children try to wake up till midnight to have a sight of secret Santa.
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Praying together in the church on Christmas eve with family and friends accompanied by delicious Christmas pudding, cakes, dance, laughter and love. Christmas is all about sharing love and happiness.
Have you ever wondered why do we celebrate Christmas on 25th December? When there is no date mentioned as the date of birth of Jesus in the holy Bible.
Let us introduce you to some interesting facts about Christmas; and let us find together that Why do we celebrate Christmas on 25th December?
Meaning of Christmas: ‘Christmas’ the obvious and important part of the word is’Christ’. The name originated from the Mass of Christ or Jesus. A Mass service is where Christian remembers that Jesus died for us then come back to life.
The ‘Christ Mass’ service is allowed to take place only after sunset. Hence, the world gets the name ‘Christmass’, later get shortened as ‘Christmas’.
Why Do We Celebrate Christmas On 25th December?
There are many theories and legends behind it. Different cultures celebrate winter festivals and then these festivals eventually took shape into modern Christmas day celebration; because the date of birth of Jesus is nowhere mentioned in the Bible, however, some researchers suggested the date of birth
of Jesus is 30th September and some suggest that Jesus was born in the midsummer; then how it became the legendary 25th December? Let’s find out
Pagan festival and Christmas:The relation between Pagan festival in mid-winters and Christmas is widely accepted. Let us see how different culture celebrated the winter festivals.
The Roman and Greek origin of Christmas: In ancient times the Romans celebrated ‘Saturnalia’ and the Greeks celebrated ‘Kronia’. These festivals areBconsidered to have a direct influence upon Christmas and New Year celebration as well.
Saturnalia was the most important and joyful festival of ancient roman culture, a public banquet, gambling, drinking, exchanging gifts were part of the festival which is celebrated to the honor of the god Saturn, the date was 17th December of Julian calendar; it was a long festival and was celebrated till 23rd December.
Like saturnalia people of Athens used to celebrate ‘Kronia’ in honor of ‘Kronos’ on the 12th day of Hekatombaiana; the first month of the Attic calendar. The rituals were the same as that of Saturnalia but it was commemorated in July.
The fact that 25th December is also quite close to December 17 and 23, that made it look like Saturnalia is the forerunner of the Christmas festival. Other than that, gift-giving, feasting, drinking, family and friends get together where all had been part of Saturnalia and later became part of Christmas.
Yule and Christmas: Christmas traditions are also considered to be originated from the ancient pagan festival celebrated by Germans, named “Yule”. Yule was celebrated by Germanic tribes at the end of winters. It was 12 days long festival. It was named “Yule” because a large Yule log was burnt within the
hall fire. There are a lot of similarities between Yule and Christmas and due to the same timing of both festivals, Christmas is even considered as Yule. Let us compare traditions of both festivals.
Colors: The colors used in both festivals are identical like Red, Green, Gold and Silver.
Plants: Conifers, evergreen, Christmas rose, poinsettia.
Symbols: Candles, bells, evergreen trees, ornaments, wreath
Rituals: Family and friends get together, dancing, singing, drinking, feasting, gifts exchanging, Thanksgiving. Even the Yule and Christmas song is a bit the same.
Hence, Yule is much like celebrating Christmas.
Yule is celebrated for the rebirth of God from the Virgin Goddess just as Christians celebrates the rebirth of Jesus.
However, it’s widely accepted that when Germanic people became Christians they start celebrating Christmas; but some of them continue to celebrate Yule. Therefore, both festivals are considered same but they are not.
Opposite theories: The theories of Christmas being originated from ancient pagan festivals like Saturnalia is widely opposed by many scholars and researchers; even another theory suggests that Christmas is neither related to Saturnalia nor Sol Invictus which celebrated exactly on 25th December. Scholars suggest that the date of celebration of Saturnalia’ changed accordingly to the Emperors, for example, Emperor Augustus ( 27BC to 14 AD) tried to shorten the days of saturnalia to only three days celebration from 17th December to 19th December.
The emperor Caligula (37 to 41AD) extended the celebration till 21st December; scholars suggest that no one in ancient times think of saturnalia on 25th December. Hence, they deny the theory of Christmas being originated from Saturnalia.
Even after the conversion of the Roman Empire into Christianity under the rule of Constantine, Roman celebrated Saturnalia alongside Christmas.
Sol Invictus and Christmas: The ancient pagan festival celebrated on 25th December was ‘Sol Invictus’ in honor of the birth of the deity the Sun God named Sol Invictus. The same date of Christmas and Sol Invictus is considered to be merely coincidental. Why? Let us move to Annunciation theory which is considered to the most specific one.
Annunciation theory: The most important reason behind the celebration of Christmas on 25th December is because Christian already believes that the Annunciation of Mother Mary occurred on 25th March and December 25th is exactly nine months later.
Therefore, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25th December.
Testimony of Saturnalia and Christmas being different festivals: The scholars who believe that the birth of Jesus is celebrated as Christmas provided evidence that Saturnalia is mentioned as a different holiday in the religious Christian calendar, a man named Polemius Silvius in 448 Ad; in his Polemius Silvius’s calendar Saturnalia is mentioned holiday on 17th December and Christmas is mentioned on 25th December. Hence, both are celebrated separately.
The first Christmas celebration on 25th December: The first Christmas was celebrated around 336 AD when the Emperor of Rome ‘Constantine’ started the universal Catholic Church. The 12 days of winter solstice which were celebrated as the ancient Pagan festival were converted into celebration on Christmas.
However, the church did not emphasize the celebration of birthdays for another 200 years; it was all started in the 5th century.
Santa and Christmas: Santa is contemplated to be an American invention. The legends of Saint Nicholas of Myra, who was the Christian bishop of Myra, leads to the modern Santa because Saint Nicholas was famous for giving secret gifts.
Is Christmas mentioned in the Holy Bible: Although Christmas is a Christian festival reference to Christmas is nowhere found in Bible, Out of the four gospel writers, only two mentioned the birth of Jesus, they were Matthew and Luke. Let take a look at the first Gospel of Matthew.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the day of Herod the king, behold the wise man from the east came to Jerusalem”.
Here Matthew gave evidence of Jesus being born but didn’t mention the date.
Luke wrote, “She brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room available for them in the inn”.
Hence, like Matthew, Luke also didn’t mention the day of Jesus being born. Thus the date 25th December is nowhere mentioned in the Bible neither the date of birth of Jesus.
Although there are a lot of theories, prejudices, and beliefs suspecting the origin of Christmas, from Christmas, being Yule or Saturnalia, from originated from Roman or German tribes, or the ancient pagan festival.
Despite many facts, many theories, many assumptions all we can say that Christmas is a festival of joy and love. Whether Christmas has Christian roots or pagan roots, traditions being different or similar, each and everyone would collectively participate in this lovely festival.
We have introduced you to each theory, hope that now you have the answer to the question, why do we celebrate Christmas on 25th December?
We hope that you have driven a conclusion on your own after reading the above description.
However, we should celebrate this festival whether we are Christian or non-Christian because this festival helps in strengthening the bond between the people. The excitement of decorating home and iconic Christmas tree, cake, decoration and lights, everybody participate in these activities making this most festival more meaningful.
Whatever theory we believe of commemorating Christmas on 25th December, on Christmas we should set aside all the opinions and share love happiness. Let’s welcome Santa coming to our town, Hohoho!!!!!!! Merry Christmas!!!!!