Christmas Celebrations

Wilson Mattoo
Christmas is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for coming together with family and friends,       for tinsel and brightly decorated packages… But mostly, Christmas        is for love. It was this love for                which Jesus came to this world                 and sacrificed his life.
Though originated by the Roman Catholics who commemorate the December 25th as the day of birth of Christ Child, it has gradually come to be celebrated by the non-Catholics as well.
Christmas is an annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. Christmas festivities often combine the commemoration of Jesus’ birth with various secular customs, many of which have been influenced by earlier winter festivals. There are a number of traditions associated with the occassion. Modern traditions have come to include the display of Nativity scenes, Holly and Christmas trees, the exchange of gifts and cards, and the arrival of Father Christmas or Santa Claus on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. The last one mentioned is a highly popular tradition that has its origin in times long ago.
About “2015 years ago”, in the city of Nazareth, there was a virgin girl named Mary. She was a righteous and pious girl. She was espoused to a man named Joseph, son of Jacob, “citizen of the Bethlehem. Joseph was a righteous & God fearing person. God saw that Mary was a holy girl, so God sent his angel Gabrial to Nazareth a town of Galilee to give the good news to Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings to you, you are highly favoured, the Lord is with you, but Mary was very confused and troubled at his words. She wondered what kind of greeting might these be? But the angel of God said to her “Do not be afraid Mary. God is pleased with you and. The Holy spirit will shy upon you and you will bear the Holy One and Call him Jesus. He will redeem his people from their sins”. After listening the angel’s message, Mary said to herself “May God’s desire be fulfilled”. When Joseph heard that his wife is found to be pregnant before marriage, as he was a good man so he did not want Mary to be exposed to public disgrace. So he was asked to put her away secretly.
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in dream and said, Joseph don’t be afraid to accept Mary to be your wife. The baby inside her womb is by the grace of Holy Spirit. She will give birth to  a child you shall name him Jesus. Joseph woke up and he did as per the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. Joseph did not have any sexual relationship with her until his first son was born. At that time Roman’s were ruling Israel. A rule was passed by the Romans ruler Caesar Augustus that all the citizens must have their names registered in their home town. Joseph belongs to the house of David, so he had to go to the city of King David in Bethelhem for the census. When Joseph and Mary reached Bethelhem it was getting dark and the town was over crowded due to census. They could not find any accomodation in any of inns. So finally they had to stay in a cattle shed. That night baby Jesus was born to Mary and She wrapped him in the swadling clothes and put him in the manger. There were shepherds roaming out in the field near by keeping watch on their flocks at night the angel of the Lord appeared to them and glory of the Lord shone around them and they were frightened. But the angel said to them, do not be afraid. I have brought a good news of great joy for you and for all the people in the town of Bethelhem.  A savior has been born for you he is the Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you. You will find a baby wrappered in clothes and lying in a manager. After giving this message, the angel went away. After hearing this message, the shepherds said to each other,” Let’s go to Bethelhem and see the God’s miracle, that the angle had said, and they went there and they found Mary and Joseph along with a new born baby Jesus, lying in  a manger and they adored the baby and went back by praising and singing what they have seen. “Centuries ago, it had been prophesied that a saviour, a Messiah would be born and at the time of his birth a bright star will appear in the east”. Three wise kings from the east came to Jerusalem looking for the saviour, the king of the Jews and the star they have seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was born when they saw the star they were over joyed and to see child with his mother Mary and Joseph lying in the manger and they kneeled down and worship him and they presented him gifts of gold, frankincense and Myrrh and this is how the birth of Jesus came about bringing happiness to the whole world. Christmas is a festival of peace, joy and harmony. Jesus Christ came to this world in the form of a human, whereas he was not a human but God Himself to give eternal life to people and save them from the punishment of their sins. It is the only festival which is celebrated all around the punishment of their sins. It is the only festival which is celebrated all around the world by every religion with great joy and  enthusiasm. It is a great day of charity. Christians distribute lot of material to poor people and beggars in the joy of their saviours.
Christmas is always celebrated on 25th December.  On this day, followers of Jesus Christ offer prayers in the church. After that they distribute gifts and greeting cards among themselves, and friends and relatives and they decorate Christmas tree. Elder people wear Santa Claus dress and distribute gifts to the children. Christmas gives a message to the whole world to be friendly to each other and maintain communal harmony.


Legends of the Christmas Tree


2The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship. The English language phrase “Christmas tree” is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. Many legends exist about the origin of the Christmas tree. One is the story of Saint Boniface, an English monk who organized the Christian Church in France and Germany. One day, as he traveled about, he came upon a group of pagans gathered around a great oak tree about to sacrifice a child to the god Thor. To stop the sacrifice and save the child’s life Boniface felled the tree with one mighty blow of his fist. In its place grew a small fir tree. The saint told the pagan worshipers that the tiny fir was the Tree of Life and stood the eternal life of Christ.
*Another legend holds that Martin Luther, a founder of the Protestant faith, was walking through the forest one Christmas Eve. As he walked he was awed by the beauty of millions of stars glimmering through the branches of the evergreen trees. So taken was he by this beautiful sight that he cut a small tree and took it home to his family. To recreate that same starlight beauty he saw in the wood, he placed candles on all its branches.
*Yet another legend tells of a poor woodsman who long ago met a lost and hungry child on Christmas Eve. Though very poor himself, the woodsman gave the child food and shelter for the night. The woodsman woke the next morning to find a beautiful glittering tree outside his door. The hungry child was really the Christ Child in disguise. He created the tree to reward the good man for his charity.
*Others feel the origin of the Christmas tree may be the “Paradise Play.” In medieval times most people could not read and plays were used to teach the lessons of the bible all over Europe. The Paradise Play, which showed the creation of man and the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was performed every year on December 24th. The play was performed in winter creating a slight problem. An apple tree was needed but apple trees do not bare fruit in winter so a substitution was made. Evergreens were hung with apples and used instead.
*Another story comes from Germany about spiders and Christmas trees. Long ago families allowed their animals to come inside and view the Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. Because the Christ Child was born in a stable, they felt that the animals should take part in the Christmas celebration. But spiders weren’t allowed because housewives didn’t want cobwebs all over everything. of course the spiders were unhappy about this, so one year they complained to the Christ Child. He felt sorry for them and decided that late at night.
* He would let them in to see the trees. The excited spiders loved the Christmas trees and all night long they crawled about in the branches, leaving them covered with webs. On Christmas morning the housewives saw what the spiders had done. But instead of being angry, they were delighted. For in the night the Christ Child had turned all of the cobwebs into sparkling tinsel. And even today, tinsel is often used to decorate Christmas trees to add that same sparkle the Christ Child gave the cobwebs long ago, in Germany.
*The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century. From Germany the custom was introduced to England, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. Around the same time, German immigrants introduced the custom into the United States. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.