What does Christmas mean to you? For many, the holiday symbolises peace and joy – giving and receiving gifts with family members. But did you know that the origins of Christmas go much further back than modern traditions? This post will answer frequently asked questions about this favourite wintertime holiday's history, symbolism, and fun facts.
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FUN FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS
From exploring why December 25 is chosen as Christmas Day to discussing how St. Nicholas ties into our celebration today, prepare for an exciting lesson on Christmas!
Why do people put up Christmas trees?
The tradition of putting up Christmas trees is believed to have originated in Germany in the 16th century. Evergreens were brought into homes and adorned with candles to bring light and life into the dark winter months.
In more recent times, people put up Christmas trees as a way to celebrate the Christmas season. Christmas trees are often decorated with lights, ornaments, and tinsel. They can be made from various materials, including plastic, metal, or glass.
Why is Christmas on December 25?
December 25 was initially celebrated as the winter solstice, the year's shortest day. It was a time when people would huddle around fires and give thanks for the return of the sun. Christmas is also thought to be based on pagan winter solstice celebrations.
Over time, Christmas became more about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. But many traditions associated with Christmas, like gift-giving and decorating trees, predate Christianity.
When and how did Christmas become an official government holiday in the US?
Christmas became an official government holiday in the United States with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 6166 on June 24, 1941. The order declared Christmas to be a legal federal holiday for all employees of the federal government.
President Roosevelt's order was motivated by a desire to improve the federal government's efficiency by increasing the number of days off for its employees. Before 1941, there was no uniform policy across the various federal agencies regarding which holidays were observed and which were not. Some agencies observed certain holidays, while other agencies did not observe any holidays at all.
Where does the name Christmas come from?
Christmas comes from the Old English word "Cristes maesse", which means "mass of Christ". It was initially a celebration of Jesus Christ's birthday, which is why it is now celebrated on December 25.
In which gospels was the Christmas story told?
Four gospels in the Bible tell the Christmas story - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each gospel tells the story from a different perspective but shares many exact details.
What is the 12th Day of Christmas?
The 12th day of Christmas is the day after Epiphany, commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, and it falls on January 6. On this day, many Christians celebrate Twelfth Night, which marks the end of the Christmas season.
Why do we celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is celebrated because it is the day that Jesus Christ was born, the founder of Christianity, and is considered the world's saviour.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
2. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday in the United States until 1870.
3. Christmas wasn't commercially celebrated until the 1920s. Before that, people generally exchanged gifts on New Year's Day or Easter.
4. The modern-day Christmas tree originated in Germany in the 16th century.
5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was not created until 1939 when Robert L. May wrote a story about him for Montgomery Ward department store employees to hand out as holiday gift tags.
We all come together at Christmas to celebrate our shared values and traditions. It is a time for giving thanks for our blessings, sharing food and laughter with those we love, and looking forward to a new year filled with hope and possibility. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
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