Christmas is the most celebrated holiday! Christians celebrate it all over the world. It is a special holiday as the traditions have been handed down from generation to generation.
From early in November nobody forgets that Christmas is coming. Colored lights decorate many towns, malls and shops, with artificial snow painted on shop windows. In the streets and shops, Christmas trees, real or artificial, are also decorated with lights and ornaments.
Shopping centers become busier. Speaker systems play Christmas carols. Very often groups of people sing these carols to raise money for charity. By mid-December, most people decorate their houses with Christmas trees, colored lights, and decorations around the home.
In many countries, most people send Christmas greeting cards with many wishes to their friends and family, and these cards are hung on the walls of their homes. Traditional Christmas cards showed religious pictures – Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, or other parts of the Christmas story. Today pictures are often winter landscapes, jokes, Father Christmas, or romantic scenes of life in past times.
Father Christmas or Santa Claus, has become the human face of Christmas. In the pictures we can see the old man with long white beard, red coat, and bag of toys. Children are taught that he brings them presents the night before Christmas or in some countries on December 6th, St. Nicholas’ Day, and many children up to the age of 7 or 8 really believe this is true. The history of Santa Clause begins with a man called Saint Nicholas. He was a Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, now Turkey, in the 4th century AD. He was very shy, and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. One day he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking, which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children’s stockings.
But, how did Christmas really start?
Since about 400 AD Christians have celebrated the birth of Jesus. Christ means Messiah, the title given to Jesus. Unfortunately the real meaning of Christmas is often forgotten. It has become a non-religious holiday! More children believe in Father Christmas, than in Jesus. Christmas Day is a holiday with eating, drinking too much and watching TV and other activities. But the real Christmas story is found in the Christian Bible. After Jesus was born there were three wise men, or three kings, who came to look for Him, from an area which is now in either Iran or Saudi Arabia. The story said they had seen an unusual star in the sky that told them of a birth of a special king. For bringing honor to the child, they brought rich gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts tell us three key things about Jesus: Gold – a gift fit for a King, Frankincense – burnt in worship of God, Myrrh – a sign of mortal humanness, used to bury the dead. Jesus lived a difficult life. He was and is ‘every-man’ for us all as He came to identify with every group. Christmas cards from different countries often show Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the landscape of that country, and with the racial appearance of that nationality. “No other person has had such an effect on human lives as Jesus. He came back to life again, and millions have come to know Him today as a friend and helper in their lives. You owe it to yourself to find out more about Him. Is He who He claimed to be? Can He help us in our lives today? You have nothing to lose! Christmas is the time to stop and think about these important questions”.