Red and green decorations everywhere and the kitchens are full of candies, chocolates and cakes ! Yes it is that time of the year again. It is CHRISTMAS! Most of you know why we celebrate Christmas but it is time to know some more interesting facts about this exciting festival.
Celebrated on the 25th of every December, Christmas marks the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a religious and cultural festival celebrated by billions of people all around the world. It is a known fact that Christ was born on the 25th but the surprising fact is that the exact month of the birth of Christ is still unknown. It is believed that centuries before Jesus Christ even arrived, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. People rejoiced during winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could finally look forward to the longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
Christmas is all about gifts, which reminds us about Santa Claus. Is Santa real? Well… the origin of the big fat elf, dressed in red begins in the 4th Century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. He was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death he was buried in Myra but later the Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and moved them to Bari, Italy which greatly increased his popularity throughout Europe. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. He threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were fortuitously captured by the stockings,the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry. That is how the tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace and Christmas trees started. The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Saint Nikolaas .
Let us focus on the Santa’s ride. Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was born over a hundred years after his eight flying counterparts. The red-nosed wonder was the creation of Robert L. May. Using a similar rhyme pattern to Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” May told the story of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But,when Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn’t be able to deliver gifts that night,the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph’s message—that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset—proved popular. In the 16th century, fir trees were decorated both indoors and outdoors with apples, roses, gilded candies and coloured paper. In the Middle Ages, a popular religious play depicted the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Christmas trees have evolved since then. The Holly, Ivy and Greenery was believed to have the magical powers since they remained green throughout the harsh winter. Hence, they were often placed on the doors to drive the evil away.
Like every other festival, Christmas too has its special traditions. Families come together and enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner which includes Roast Turkey, Cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, Roast Potatoes etc. Turkey wishing is a tradition involves puling if the Turkey’s wishbone. This is one of the bones of the Turkey which is shaped like the letter Y. Two people hold each end and pull, the person left with the larger piece of the bone makes a wish.
For the desserts, Christians eat the rich fruit pudding which is doused in brandy which is said to ward off evil spirits.
The happy festival is celebrated by singing Christmas Carols, exchanging gifts, and religious observances of fasting and midnight Mass