Christmas or Christmas Day also called Noël, Nativity, Xmas, Yule is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
Date: December 25; Western Christianity and some Eastern churches; secular world; January 7; Some Eastern churches; January 6; Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Evangelical Churches; January 19; Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem;
A Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian, pagan traditions into the festivities along the way. Today, Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts.
Most Christians today probably can’t imagine Christmas on any other day than December 25, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, for the first three centuries of Christianity’s existence, Jesus Christ’s birth wasn’t celebrated at all. The religion’s most significant holidays were Epiphany on January 6, which commemorated the arrival of the Magi after Jesus’ birth, and Easter, which celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. The first official mention of December 25 as a holiday honoring Jesus’ birthday appears in an early Roman calendar from 336 A.D.
The celebration of Christmas spread throughout the Western world over the next several centuries, but many Christians continued to view Epiphany and Easter as more important. Some, including the Puritans of colonial New England, even banned its observance because they viewed its traditions—the offering of gifts and decorating trees, for example—as linked to paganism. In the early days of the United States, celebrating Christmas was considered a British custom and fell out of style following the American Revolution. It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday.
THE LEGEND OF ST. NICHOLAS ( Santa Claus )
The man we know as Santa Claus has a history all his own. Today, he is thought of mainly as the jolly man in red, but his story stretches all the way back to the 3rd century. The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors.
His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland. millions of children wait for each Christmas Eve for the Santa Claus to arrive with a sack f gifts on his back !
(source: Wikipedia n History sites)