Christmas FAQ: Learning More About Christmas
by Crissy Yarnell
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* Why do people put up Christmas trees?
The tradition of the Christmas tree is a remnant of the old pagan tradition of worshipping trees. This paved the way for the popularity of Christmas tree decorations in people's homes during Christmas season.
* Why is Christmas on December 25th?
Many people believe Jesus was born on December 25, but there is no historical evidence for this. In fact, historical evidence points to spring as the time when Jesus was born.
It's most likely that December 25 became Christmas Day by a slick political move. By three or four centuries after Christ, Christians were numerous, and perhaps in an effort to stop religious bickering and unite the Christians with the pagans, the pagan holiday of Saturnalia (approximately December 25) was combined with the biggest Christian celebration of the year: the birthday of Jesus. Presto, a universal holiday!
* When and how did Christmas become an official government holiday?
There are several arguments regarding the declaration of Christmas as an official holiday. But according to many researchers, it was in the year 1870 that U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas an American national holiday. Prior to this declaration, a formal process was conducted that transformed the proposal into an act of Congress.
* Where does the name Christmas come from?
Christmas comes from the Middle English term "Cristis Masse." In literal translation it means Christ's Festival. There are also some accounts that translate it as "mass for Christ."
* In which gospels was the Christmas story told?
It is in the gospels of Matthew and Luke where you can find most of the Biblical accounts pertaining to the nativity story or Christmas. Matthew discussed the story of Joseph and Mary, the angel Gabriel, and the Three Kings.
The story in Luke starts in the land of Nazareth, and is the one most people are familiar with. Luke does not mention the new star, the wise men, or Herod's slaughter of the innocents, but he does describe the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Mary laying the newborn Jesus in a manger, and the angels appearing to the shepherds.
* What is the 12th Day of Christmas?
According to Encyclopedia .com: Epiphany "(ipif'ene) [Gr.,=showing], a prime Christian feast, celebrated Jan. 6, called also Twelfth Day or Little Christmas. Its eve is Twelfth Night. It commemorates three events-the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1), the visit of the Wise Men to Bethlehem (Mat. 2), and the miracle at Cana (John 2). In his baptism Jesus' sonship to God was manifested to the world; in the visit of the Wise Men he was manifested as king to the Gentiles; and at the marriage feast at Cana his power to perform miracles (a divine prerogative) was shown. In popular celebration the feast is far more ancient than Christmas. Technically it is more important than Christmas, ranking after Easter and Pentecost. It is a day of gifts in many countries. In the Eastern Church the waters are blessed on this day. The word epiphany means a manifestation, usually of divine power. Thus the actual appearance of God (as in the burning bush) or a moment of divine revelation may be called an epiphany."
* Why do we celebrate Christmas?
Even More Information
It has been a part of the Christian tradition to celebrate Christmas yearly. The bottom line for this is to witness and retell to other people the marvelous story of the Savior of mankind, who is Jesus Christ.
About the Author: Crissy Yarnell is editor of Christmas Yes!, the online guide to Christmas. She also writes Christmas FAQ's for PrettyGreatAnswers.com.
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