Christmas is a sacred religious occasion as well as a commercial and cultural phenomenon observed worldwide. People celebrate this event across the world with the practices and traditions of both secular and religious nature. According to Christians, this day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of their spiritual leader, Jesus of Nazareth, whose teachings have formed their religion’s basis. Some of the popular customs followed by the people during Christmas include attending church, decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus and sharing of meals with friends and family members. This day has been observed as a federal holiday since 1870 in the US.
An Ancient Holiday
For centuries before Jesus arrived, Europeans have been celebrating the end of the winter season’s darkest days with rejoice during the solstice. In Scandinavia, the celebration of Yule began December 21 and continued through January, where people would burn large logs and feast until the fire went out. At the end of December, cattle were slaughtered in many European areas so they don’t have to feed them in the winters, while others celebrated it as a fresh meat supply. Moreover, most of the beer and wine was fermented and finally ready to be drunk during the period. Oden, a pagan god was honored by people in Germany because of the belief that he would be observing them through the sky to deliver his blessings.
Some of the Christmas facts are listed as below:
- Approximately, 30-35 million Christmas trees are traded alone in the US, excluding the artificial ones by 21,000 tree growers, where they are grown from an average of 15 years before being sold.
- According to the Orthodox churches of the Russia and Greece, this occasion is not celebrated on 25th of December, but 13 days after the date and is referred to as the day of Three Kings or Epiphany. A belief supporting this celebration is that Jesus founded by three wise men in the manger on this day.
- Raucous and rowdy celebrations were observed in the middle Ages, similar to the Mardi Gras parties of today.
- Christmas celebration was considered as an outlaw from 1659-1681 in Boston with a fine of five shillings for those who celebrated and broke the law.
- On June 26, 1870, Christmas was acknowledged as a federal holiday in the US.
- The Jamestown settlement if Captain John Smith in 1607 is known to consume the first eggnog that was made in the US.
- The name of Poinsettia plants is taken from an American minister, Joel R. Poinsett, which is known to bring the green and red-colored plant to America from Mexico in 1828.
- Since 1890s, donation collectors of the Santa Claus-clad have been sent out into the streets by the Salvation Army.
- In 1931, the Christmas tree tradition at the Rockefeller Center was started by the construction workers.
Thus, these are a few of the facts related to the celebration of Christmas Eve across the world. There are many more verities that are not known to a huge population regarding the celebration, traditions, practices followed during the winter solstice or Christmas.