As December starts, many of us start to plan and look forward to Christmas and for Christians, Christmas is one of the most christian and cultural holidays of the year and is a celebration of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem and for Christians this is the moment that God came to live among people as an ordinary person. Many of us will be familiar with the Christmas story, with Joseph and Mary travelling to Bethlehem, Jesus’s birth in a stable and the visit of shepherds and wise men.
Around the world Christmas is a mixture of the spiritual and the traditional and includes Churches gathering to celebrate Jesus’s birth with prayers and carols, feasting and the giving of presents - some elements are a constant feature and some elements are unique to certain countries. Some countries focus more attention on Christmas Eve, whilst others mark St Nicolas’s Day on the 6 December as a time to exchange gifts.
So what does Christmas stand for?
It literally means Christian Mass and it is a shortened form of Christ’s Mass. Christmas is a time of spiritual reflection on the important foundations of the Christian faith. It’s also a celebration. It’s when Christians celebrate God’s love for the world through the birth of the Christ child: Jesus.
Christmas begins with Advent which means ‘coming’ and looks forward to the coming of Jesus. Historically Christians refrained from eating and drinking excessively as they looked forward to marking the birth of Jesus and a feast on Christmas Day. There would then be 12 days of celebration, finishing with an exchange of gifts at Epiphany on the 6 January, which is still the case in Spain and many Latin American countries.
Why don’t you find out more about the Christian celebration of Christmas along with the history and traditions, including the Advent candles by click the below picture?
The full story of the birth of Jesus can be found in the Bible in Luke 2:4-19.
Click to go back to the Cultural Calendar homepage.