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Christmas Definition

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What Is Christmas: Understanding the History and Origin

Christmas is so full of wonder, meaning and tradition. But, where did all these things that we now call "Christmas" come from? Let's briefly sketch the origin and development of what we now celebrate as Christ's birth.


What is Christmas and When Did it Start?
Christmas is the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth, held on December 25 in the Western Church. The traditional date of December 25 goes back as far as A.D. 273. Two pagan festivals honoring the sun were also celebrated on that day and it is possible that December 25 was chosen to counteract the influence of paganism. To this day some people feel uncomfortable with Christmas because they think it is somehow tainted by the pagan festivals held on that day. But Christians have long believed that the gospel not only transcends culture, it also transforms it. In A.D. 320 one theologian answered this criticism by noting, “We hold this day h…

The Origin of Christmas Eve

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The Origin of Christmas Eve

For centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world, beginning with this day, December 24, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening. Had not Moses written: "An evening and a morning were the first day"?
Christmas means "Christ-mass." Although the date is a guess, the tradition of observing it goes back to at least the fourth century. Under the influence of the church, Christian traditions replaced pagan solstice festivals throughout Europe. Often the more innocent pagan practices (such as bringing in a Yule log, decorating with holly and the like) were carried over into the Christmas observance, transfigured with new meaning.

Christmas Carols

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3 Christmas Carols that Tell the True Christmas Story

"The First Noel"
“Noel” derives from the Latin verb “nasci,” to be born, and eventually trickled down into the French reference to the Christmas holiday. Defined, it literally means, “a Christmas carol” (Merriam Webster). The very world “Noel” is synonymous with Christmas.
It’s quite possible that the tune of this song has been played since the 1200s. Davies Gilbert added the lyrics in the 1800s, and it was published in 1823. The song retells the story from Luke 2 of the angels telling the shepherds in the field of the Savior being born, and the wise men following that same star to bring Him gifts.
Embracing Noel sends us traveling back to an ancient era, where our timeless Savior was born. The word used to describe the day of His birth became an anthem in celebration of the day of His birth. Though the angels sang in celebration of His birth first, we get to share in that joy of His coming by singing along today.
"O C…

Christmas Tree

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The Origin of the Christmas Tree


Among the many accounts claiming to explain the origin of the Christmas tree, the three most popular are from Germany — making it the likeliest place of origin. The stories span from the 8th to the 16th century. All three have some element of historical fact, and they may even loosely connect from one to another.
1. The first story is about St. Boniface. In the 8th century, he was a missionary to some of the remotest tribes of Germany. He is probably best known for what is called the “Felling of Thor’s Oak.” It is said that upon entering a town in northern Hesse (Hessia), Boniface learned that the people worshiped the god Thor who they believed resided in a great oak tree among them. Boniface determined that if he wanted to earn an audience with the people, he would have to confront Thor. He announced before the people that he was going to cut down the oak, and he openly challenged Thor to strike him down. Miraculously, as Boniface began to chop the oa…

Christmas Traditions

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The Christian Meaning Behind Ancient Traditions
Evergreen Trees were the symbol of eternal life. Martin Luther introduced them to the Reformation Church as a picture of our endless life in Christ, by bringing in a tree to his family on Christmas Eve lit with candles (Isaiah 60:13).
Candles are a picture that Christ is the Light of the world (John 8).
Holly speaks of the thorns in His crown (Matthew 27:29).
Red is a color of Christmas that speaks of Christ's blood and death.
Gifts are a reminder of the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus. Each of them speak to a component of His incarnation: Majesty in life, Bitterest Agony in Death and He as God's Perfect gift to us.


More Holiday Traditions
The Yule Log was a symbol by which all the men in the family would carry a log large enough to burn for 12 days into the house. They were identifying with Christ and His Cross. The fire was started with a fragment from the previous years [this refers to the eternal existence of Christ before His…

The Dates of Christmas

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The Dates of Christmas



Why do we celebrate on December 25th?
There are two specific theories for why we use the date of December 25th for Christmas.
First, people and religions of the day celebrated some sort of holiday around that time. From Jewish Chanukah to Pagan Winter Solstice to Germanic Yule to Roman Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birth of the Unconquered Sun); the sheer number of celebration days with trees, decorations, yule logs, mistletoe and feasts seem to point to a season of celebration to which Christians added the birth of Jesus as a counter-cultural event and possibly even an escape from the pagan holidays for early believers.
December 25th was the Saturnalia Festival of emancipation, gift giving and the triumph of light after the longest night. The Christian sees the truth implicit in this pagan tradition that reflects: Christ the Light of the world, His triumph over the night of sin in Luke 1:78-79:
"...Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising …

Christmas Quotes and Images

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