The origin of Christmas differs as the precise date of the birth and historicity of Jesus are much debated. Christmas, literally meaning the Mass of Christ, is a traditional holiday in the Christian calendar. The festival of Christmas takes place on 25th December, every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is also celebrated as a secular holiday throughout the world, including countries with small Christian populations like India. Various theories of the origin of Christmas exist that give a clear insight into the celebration of Christmas.
Date Of Christmas
Christmas is celebrated on December 25 in all Christian churches including Eastern Rite, Roman & Protestant. Since most Eastern Orthodox churches have not accepted either the Gregorian calendar or the Revised Julian Calendar reforms, December 25 will fall on the civil date of January 7 for the years from 1900 to 2099. It is believed that the nativity was set on December 25th by a Roman bishop around the third century A.D.
The Roots Of Christmas
Christmas is from Christes Maesse, which means Christ Mass. It is referred that during the 4th century, the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25 was gradually adopted by most Eastern churches. In Jerusalem, opposition to Christmas lasted longer as according to them the exact date of birth of Jesus Christ is unknown. It is said that December 17-24th was the period of Saturnalia, a well-known festival in pagan, Rome. December 25th was the birthday of Mithra, the Iranian god of light. This day was adopted by the church as Christmas to counteract the effects of these festivals.
Though the true origin of Christmas is filled with controversy and compromise, today, Christmas
has turned out to be one of the most popular festival that fills joy, happiness and love in people’s life. The festival of Christmas has absorbed various customs and traditions of world and 25th December has emerged as the most important day for Christians, irrespective of its roots. It is taken as a day that reflects the power, glory and salvation of Jesus Christ and his message of hope to the world.
Various Theories Of The origin of Christmas
As the origin of Christmas has been a debatable issue, various theories has been suggested, supporting the date of 25th December as the birth of Jesus. Few of them are:
Roman festival of Saturnalia
It is an appropriation by early Christians of a day on which the birth of several pagan gods, Osiris, Jupiter, and Plutus, or the ancient deified leader Nimrod, was celebrated. It is an appropriation of the Roman festival of the birth of Unconquered Sun, celebrated on the day after the winter solstice, or the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
Jewish Festival of Lights
It derives from the tradition that Jesus was born during the Jewish Festival of Lights that falls on 25th December.
Date of Good Friday
The date of Christmas is based on the date of Good Friday, the day Jesus died. Since the exact date of Jesus’ death is not stated in the Gospels, early Christians sought to calculate it, and arrived at either March 25 or April 6. Then, wishing to calculate Jesus’ birthday, they followed the ancient idea that Old Testament prophets died either an anniversary of their birth or of their conception. In Jesus’ case, they reasoned that he died on an anniversary of the Incarnation so the date of his birth would have been nine months after the date of Good Friday-either December 25 or January 6. The date of 25th December became popular.