Christmas traditions are a collection of rites, customs, religious activities, and folklore connected to the holiday. While some of these customs are observed in much the same way all across the world, others differ by nation or location.
Christmas customs have a wide range of origins and characteristics; some are wholly Christian in character and have their roots in Christianity, whereas others have been characterized as being more cultural or secular in nature and having their roots beyond the sphere of Christian influence.
Christmas celebrations can take on an altogether different flavor or ambience depending on the historical period and geographical place, as traditions have changed and evolved substantially over the years since this festival was originally observed as a holiday.
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Article Shared About Christmas With “Christmas 2022 – Brief Information Of A Wonderful Festival.”
Christmas Day (including Christmas Eve) is a Festival in the Lutheran Church, a Solemnity in the Roman Catholic Church, and a Principal Feast in the Anglican Communion. As with other Christian feasts like Easter, Ascension Day, and Pentecost, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are important to other Christian groups even though they do not rank their feast days.
As a result, for Christians, participating in a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church service is crucial to recognizing the holiday season. Christmas and Easter are the two times of the year when church attendance is highest.
Six in ten Americans, according to a Lifeway Christian Resources survey from 2010, go to church during this period. The Church of England in the UK estimates that 2.5 million people attended Christmas services there in 2015.
Christmas special decorations have been hung up for a very long time. The practice of having every home and parish church in London decorated for Christmas in the 15th century was described as being “decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green.”
Ivy’s heart-shaped leaves were thought to symbolize Jesus’ arrival on earth. Holly was thought to provide protection against witches and pagans, and its thorns and scarlet berries were thought to represent the Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore at his crucifixion and the blood that he shed.
Nativity scenes date back to Rome in the 10th century. Saint Francis of Assisi made them popular starting in 1223, and they spread fast throughout Europe. Depending on local customs and resources, several styles of decorations have evolved throughout the Christian world. They can range from straightforward depictions of the crib to incredibly ornate settings.
Saint Francis-inspired living nativity scenes are a common substitute for static crèches in some regions of the world, particularly Sicily. Children’s paper chains served as the inspiration for the first commercially produced decorations that debuted in Germany in the 1860s.
People are urged to compete and produce the most inventive or realistic Nativity scenes in nations where they are particularly popular. The components required to create the image may be prized family heirlooms in some families.
Christmas decorations typically come in red, green, and gold hues. Red represents the blood shed at Jesus’ crucifixion, green represents eternal life, and gold is the first color linked with Christmas as one of the three gifts given by the Magi, which stands for royalty and represents one of the Magi’s three gifts.
German Lutherans used Christmas trees for the first time in the 16th century, and records show that Martin Bucer, a Protestant Reformer, was responsible for placing one in Strasburg Cathedral in 1539. In the United States, these “German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravians put lighted candles on those trees.”
The School Journal noted in 1897 that many people who decorate Christmas trees place a star at the top of the tree to represent the Star of Bethlehem. According to Professor David Albert Jones of Oxford University, using an angel to depict the angels stated in the narratives of Jesus’ birth as an infant, people started doing this as early as the 19th century.
Some people believe that the Christmas tree is a Christianization of pagan customs and rituals associated with the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs and an adaptation of pagan tree worship.
According to eighth-century biographer Stephen, Saint Boniface (634–709), a missionary in Germany, cut down an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he said was a more appropriate object of reverence because it pointed to The term “Christmas tree” was first used in the English language in 1835 and is an import from German.
German immigrants brought the practice to Britain, first through Queen Charlotte, George III’s wife, and then more successfully through Prince Albert under Queen Victoria. The Christmas tree had spread much further throughout Britain by 1841. America had embraced the tradition of putting it up by the 1870s. Lights and decorations can be used to decorate Christmas trees.
Native to Mexico, the poinsettia is known there in Spanish as the Flower of the Holy Night and has been associated with Christmas since the 16th century, conveying the Christian symbolism of the Star of Bethlehem.
Holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus are some additional well-known seasonal floras. These plants, together with garlands and evergreen leaves, can be used to decorate a home’s interior along with a Christmas tree.
Another holiday custom that has taken hold in many houses is the presentation of Christmas towns. Lights and occasionally illuminated snowmen, sleighs, and other Christmas decorations can be used to adorn the exteriors of homes.
Mistletoe is a parasitic evergreen plant that grows on trees, particularly apple and poplar trees, and turns golden when dried. It is a common motif in European myth and folklore (for instance, the legend of Baldr).
At Christmas, it’s usual to hang a sprig of mistletoe inside the home, and anyone standing underneath it is eligible for a kiss. One of the sticky white berries of mistletoe is usually pulled off before a kiss is given. Most likely, this is a fertility ritual. The juice from the mistletoe berry mimics semen.
Angels, bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and other traditional ornaments are also used as decorations. Wreaths and candles placed in each window are more typical Christmas decorations.
Christmas wreaths are made of a concentric array of leaves, typically from an evergreen, and are intended to get Christians ready for the Advent season. Candles are placed in each window to show that Christians consider Jesus Christ to be the supreme source of light in the universe.
Christmas trees may be positioned prominently, lights and banners may be strung along roadways, and music may be played from speakers. Town squares and commercial districts frequently sponsor and exhibit decorations around the world.
For the purpose of gift-wrapping, rolls of colorful paper decorated with secular or religious Christmas themes are produced. In several nations, Twelfth Night is when Christmas decorations are usually taken down.
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The first reenactment of the Nativity of Jesus took place in A.D. 1223, making the viewing of the Nativity play one of the oldest Christmastime customs for Christians. Children sang Christmas songs that year as Francis of Assisi put together a Nativity scene outside of his church in Italy to commemorate the birth of Jesus.
This got bigger every year, and visitors traveled from far away to see Francis’ portrayal of the Nativity of Jesus, which eventually included theatre and music. Nativity plays gradually made their way across all of Europe, where they are still well-liked today.
Nativity plays were frequently presented at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day church services, as well as in theaters and schools.
Nativity plays are frequently performed outdoors in the streets of France, Germany, Mexico, and Spain.
Music And Carols.
Roman hymns written expressly for Christmas date back to the fourth century. Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan, expressed the theological teaching of the Incarnation in stark opposition to Arianism in Latin hymns like “Veni redemptor gentium.” Some churches still sing the Spanish poet Prudentius’s “Corde natus ex Parentis” (“Of the Father’s love begotten”) nowadays.
The Christmas “Sequence” or “Prose” was first used in North European monasteries in the ninth and tenth centuries. Bernard of Clairvaux developed it into a series of rhymed stanzas. The Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor first introduced music that was more reminiscent of the classic Christmas carol in the 12th century.
By the 13th century, popular Christmas songs in the local tongue had become well-established in France, Germany, and especially Italy thanks to the influence of Francis of Assisi.
English Christmas songs first occur in a work by Shropshire chaplain John Awdlay dated 1426, who cites twenty-five “caroles of Cristemas,” which were likely performed by groups of wassailers as they travelled from house to home.
The tunes that are now recognized precisely as carols were originally communal folk songs sung at holidays like Christmas and “harvest tide.” The first Christmas carols were sung in churches much later.
Carols have historically frequently been built on medieval chord patterns, which is what gives them their distinctively distinctive melodic sound. Some Christmas carols, like “Personent hodie,” “Good King Wenceslas,” and “The Holly and the Ivy,” have their roots in the Middle Ages.
They are among the earliest musical works that are still performed often. Although the lines to “Adeste Fideles” (O Come all ye faithful) may have originated in the 13th century, the song first appears in its current form in the middle of the 18th century.
After the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, the practice of singing carols originally fell out of favor, despite the fact that some Reformers, like Martin Luther, produced carols and promoted their usage in church. Up until the 19th century, when popular music experienced a resurgence of interest, carols generally survived in rural communities.
Charles Wesley, an English reformer who lived in the 18th century, recognized the value of music in worship. He penned the texts for at least three Christmas carols in addition to many psalms, many of which were instrumental in the Great Awakening in the United States.
The most well-known song was formerly known as “Hark! How All the Welkin Rings,” but was eventually changed to “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”
To fit Wesley’s words, Felix Mendelssohn created a tune. When Mohr and Gruber wrote “Silent Night” for the St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf, in Austria in 1818, they significantly expanded the genre. Many now-classic English carols first appeared in print in William Sandys’ Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833), which helped the holiday’s mid-Victorian rebirth.
Christmas carols that are entirely secular came into being in the late 18th century. Deck the Halls is a 1784 song, while “Jingle Bells” was given copyright protection in the United States in 1857. African American spirituals and Christmas songs that were based on their tradition of spirituals gained increased popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the 20th century, a growing number of seasonal holiday tunes, including jazz and blues versions, were commercially created. Additionally, there was a resurgence of interest in early music, with early medieval and classical musicians performing alongside folk music ensembles like The Revels.
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The food eaten at a special Christmas family lunch, which is a typical feature of the holiday celebration, differs widely from country to country. Christmas Eve dinners vary by area; in Sicily, 12 different types of fish are served.
A typical Christmas supper in the United Kingdom and other nations inspired by British customs comprises a turkey, goose, or other big bird, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, perhaps bread, and cider. Additionally, special desserts are made, including Yule log cake, Christmas pudding, and mince pies.
Fish is frequently used as the traditional main dish in Poland and other eastern European and Scandinavian countries, but richer meats like lamb are becoming more popular. A unique version of smörgsbord is popular in Sweden, where ham, meatballs, and herring are significant ingredients.
The preferred meats in Germany, France, and Austria are goose and pork. Around the world, many different dishes use beef, ham, and chicken. Imbuljuta tal-Qastan, a chocolate and chestnut beverage, is customarily served by the Maltese after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season.
Slovenes make intricate pastries and desserts, as well as the traditional Christmas bread potica, known as bûche de Nol in France and panettone in Italy. Sweeter Christmas treats include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. Eating sweets and chocolates has gained popularity around the world.
Oranges have a long history of being connected to special Christmas dishes because they are one of the few fruits that are typically available to northern nations in the winter. Traditional ingredients for making eggnog, a sweetened dairy beverage, include milk, cream, sugar, and beaten eggs (which gives it a frothy texture).
Brandy, rum, or bourbon are examples of common spirits added. Ground cinnamon or nutmeg are frequently sprinkled on top of the completed plate as a garnish.
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Christmas cards are illustrative greetings that are sent from friends and family in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The customary message, which was originally printed on a commercial Christmas card by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843, is “wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
With the development of the contemporary trend of exchanging E-cards, the practice of sending them has gained popularity among a large cross-section of people.
Christmas cards are bought in large numbers and include artwork that is commercially designed and appropriate for the occasion.
With images of the Nativity of Jesus, or Christian symbols like the Star of Bethlehem, or a white dove, which can stand for both the Holy Spirit and Peace on Earth, the design’s content may be closely related to the Christmas story.
Other cards are more secular and can show Christmas customs, legendary characters like Santa Claus, Christmas-related items like candles, holly, and ornaments, or a range of imagery related to the season, like Christmastide activities, snow scenes, and northern winter wildlife.
Even hilarious cards and genres exist that feature nostalgic scenes from the past, such as crinolined shoppers in fanciful city scenes from the 19th century. Some people like cards with a poetry, prayer, or verse from the Bible, while others choose cards with an all-inclusive “Season’s greetings” to disassociate themselves from religion.
One of the main components of a modern Christmas celebration is gift-giving, making this the most lucrative time of year for retailers and businesses around the globe. Christmas is a time when people give and receive gifts in remembrance of the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus as well as the Christian custom connected to Saint Nicholas.
In contrast, the Christian “core dogma of the Incarnation, however, solidly established the giving and receiving of gifts as the structural principle of that recurrent yet unique event” because it was the Biblical Magi, “together with all their fellow men, who received the gift of God through man’s renewed participation in the divine life,” may have had an influence on Christian Christmas traditions.