cut above the rest

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

christmas or christomas

Christmas or christomas, an annual holiday marks the traditional birth date of Jesus the Christ who is also known as Jesus of Nazareth.
Christmas combines the celebration of Jesus’s birth with various other traditions and customs, many of which were influenced by ancient winter festivals such as Saturnalia and Yule.

Saturnalia was the best-known winter festival of the Roman Period and was popular throughout Italy. Saturnalia was a time of general relaxation, feasting, merry-making and a cessation of formal rules. It included the making and giving of small presents including small dolls for children and candles for adults.
Saturnalia honoured the god Saturn and began on December 17. The festival gradually lengthened until the late Republican period when it was seven days (December 17-24). In Imperial times, Saturnalia was shortened to 5 days.

Yule. Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, between late December and early January. Yule logs were lit to honour Thor, the god of thunder with the belief that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born the coming year. Feasting continued till the log burned out, and which would take even 12 days.

As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan celebrations had a major influence on Christmas.

Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the Germanic word Yule is synonymous with Christmas.
In Anglo-Saxon times, Christmas was referred to as geol from which the current English word ‘Yule’ is derived.

It is unknown exactly when or why December 25 became associated with Jesus’s birth. The New Testament does not give a specific date.

Sextus Julius Africanus popularized the idea that Jesus was born on December 25 in his Chronographiai, a reference book for Christians written in AD 221. This date is nine months after the traditional date of the Incarnation i.e., the day on which Jesus was conceived (March 25) now celebrated as the Feast of the Annunciation. Early Christians believed that March 25 was the date on which Jesus was crucified. March 25 was also considered to be the date of the vernal equinox and December 25 the winter solstice (when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45 BC, December 25 was approximately the date of the solstice. In modern times, the solstice falls on December 21 or 22.)

The word ‘Christmas’ is a contraction meaning ‘Christ’s Mass’. It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes Moess, a phrase first recorded in 1038.
The earliest reference to the celebration of Christmas is in the Calendar of Filocalus, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome in 354.
Some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7, which corresponds to December 25 on the Julian calendar.

December 25 as a birth date for Jesus is merely traditional and is not though to be his actual date of birth.

Thanks Bhaiyya for inspiring me to research and write - though went unpublished in The Hindu as it is a supposedly negative article.
Not to forget that THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS BITTER and doesn't come in sugar coated pills.


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