Merry Christmas 2020: Around the world, the festival of Christmas is celebrated on December 25 as both a sacred religious holiday and a commercial occasion. The mood is festive, as it is a joyous day which marks the birth anniversary of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings formed the foundation of the religion of Christianity. As such, it is an important day for the Christian community around the world — but is celebrated with much enthusiasm by non-Christians, too.
It is said that centuries before Jesus, early Europeans commemorated both light and birth in the darkest days of winter, mainly in December. People rejoiced during the winter solstice, for they could look forward to longer days, extended hours of sunlight, and shorter nights.
It is believed that in the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday and not Christmas; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. It was in the fourth century that church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday, by having Christmas at the same time as winter solstice festivals.
The story of Jesus’s birth goes like this: He was born in a manger in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph. There is, however, no record the birth actually took place on December 25, since the modern Gregorian calendar did not exist then, and the Bible also does not mention the exact date for his birth. It was Emperor Constantine — known as the first Christian Roman emperor — who declared December 25 as ‘Christmas’ and a day to celebrate Christ. A few years later, Pope Julius I declared that the day would mark the birth of Christ.
Celebrations start December 24 (Christmas Eve) and continue till December 26 (Boxing Day).
The day holds great significance for the Christian community. It is believed that God had sent his Son to earth to sacrifice himself and salvage all of humanity and absolve them of their sins. Jesus’s crucifixion, therefore, is a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice. Normally, people attend midnight mass at churches followed by an elaborate Christmas feast on this day. Carols are sung, too.
This year, because of the pandemic, many restrictions are in place.
The day is also synonymous with some folklore and celebrations of affable fictional figures like Santa Claus and his elves, for the enjoyment of children.
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