Christmas – What is Christmas?

Christmas is a holiday on December 25th each year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. It is celebrated by both Christians and non Christians alike. The name is a combination of the words Christ and Mass meaning the holy mass (supper, celebration).

The New Testament states that when Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem there was no room at the inn. They were offered a stable and that is where Jesus was born. The angels proclaimed the word to shepherds, who in turn spread the word across the land.

When Oliver Cromwell took over England in 1645 he actually cancelled Christmas ! He was A Puritan and had no tolerance for Catholics or Quakers. Obviously he had a lot in common with the Grinch.

Christmas was not recognized as a holiday in America from 1659 to 1681. Boston actually fined people five shillings if they exhibited the Christmas spirit.

Luckily when Charles II returned to the throne he brought back Christmas, however Christmas wasn’t truly embraced as a festive holiday until the 19th century. Although it was celebrated in different countries and with varying traditions, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until 1870.

Imagine a world without Christmas.! Its that special time of year when we are kinder, more tolerant and more thoughtful of others. Its a time to gather with families and friends.

Charles Dickens helped to bolster our spirit of Christmas in A Christmas Carol. The story reinforced the message of Christmas, charity and goodwill towards men. The story was first published on December 19, 1843 and the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve. The story had gone through thirteen printings by 1844 and continues to be a top seller over 175 years later. It has been the source of holiday specials for movies, cartoons and television as well as ballet and opera. Dickens had been raised in poverty himself. with his family having to endure debtor’s prison. Dickens thought the story, which he wrote in just six weeks, would help to open the hearts of those more prosperous and help those less fortunate than themselves. Mark Twain’s review of the book was, “There is no feeling……. No feeling. it is nothing but glittering frostwork”. Imagine that!!

Today Christmas to many is less about Christianity and more about rekindling friendships, visits from relatives, home baking, turkey, Christmas carols and of course gift giving. It truly is a multi million dollar retail event. I hope amidst all the shiny paper and ribbons and bows we all find the true spirit of Christmas within us and reach out to those less fortunate. Be kind and thoughtful and yes , it truly is better to give than to receive.

“Christmas isn’t a season. Its a feeling” ~ Edna Ferber


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