Christmas 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 Eve and Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teaching forms the basis of their religion.
One word says it all. Sometimes, especially nowadays, it is so hard to get into that Christmas Spirit. We are just too “busy” to be spiritual and simply nice, most of all in our hearts. Everyone deserves to feel special on Christmas, so first, help yourself. Make yourself happy, and then others. Turn on some Christmas music. Make sugar cookies. Hang up Christmas ornaments. Decorate the tree. Get out of the house. Buy presents. Give a gift to it doesn’t matter who. Spend time with your family and friends. Slow down. Enjoy. Don’t overeat!
Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
In the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th of December, which is also referred to as Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day. It is believed that on this day three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.
Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.
An Ancient Holiday
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many people rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them, and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.
The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of the year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.
An Outlaw Christmas
In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.
Obviously, there is much more to it. Today, we should be thankful. It is almost the end of yet another year. It is Christmas 2020. Merry, merry… .