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The weeklong observance, however, was successively reduced to Christmas day and a single additional holiday on December Eastern Orthodox churches honour Christmas on December However, for those that continue to use the Julian calendar for their liturgical observances, this date corresponds to January 7 on the Gregorian calendar.
The churches of the Oriental Orthodox communion celebrate Christmas variously. For example, in Armenia , the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion , the church uses its own calendar; the Armenian Apostolic Church honours January 6 as Christmas.
Congregations of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria follow the date of December 25 on the Julian calendar, which corresponds to Khiak 29 on the ancient Coptic calendar.
With the spread of Christianity beyond Europe and North America, the celebration of Christmas was transferred to societies throughout the non-Western world.
In many of these countries, Christians are not the majority population, and, therefore, the religious holiday has not become a cultural holiday.
Christmas customs in these societies thus often echo Western traditions because the people were exposed to Christianity as a religion and cultural artifact of the West.
In South and Central America , unique religious and secular traditions mark the Christmas celebration.
Christmas is a great summer festival in Brazil , including picnics, fireworks, and other festivities as well as a solemn procession of priests to the church to celebrate midnight mass.
In some parts of India the evergreen Christmas tree is replaced by the mango tree or the bamboo tree, and houses are decorated with mango leaves and paper stars.
Christmas largely remains a Christian holiday and is otherwise not widely observed. Japan serves as illustration of a different sort.
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It is a time for sharing and caring. This time gives us all a scope to shower our affection not only to our loved ones but also to strangers.
Let me share some innovative ideas of celebrating Christmas this time. Wish everyone you meet Merry Christmas. Why not go an extra mile and wish your lonely neighbor.
It is always not required to share presents. Spending some time in an old age home or an orphanage is not a bad idea.
Giving company to these people will not only give them happiness but you will receive immense satisfaction.
Do some fun activities outdoors with family and friends. Drive around the town and paint it red.
Build a snowman together or go for sledging. If you are in a snow free area go for camping. This is the best time to share Bible stories with children.
The Druids Celtic priests would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.
Judaism was the main religion of Israel at the time of Jesus' birth. The Jewish midwinter festival of Hanukkah marks an important part of Jewish history.
It is eight days long and on each day a candle is lit. It is a time of remembrance, celebration of light, a time to give gifts and have fun.
Christmas has always been a strange combination of Christian, Pagan and folk traditions. The Church was already finding it hard to bury the Pagan remnants of the midwinter festival.
During the medieval period c. It was a predominantly secular festival but contained some religious elements. Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means 'to show', meaning the time when Jesus was revealed to the world.
Even up until the s the Epiphany was at least as big a celebration as Christmas day. Many Pagan traditions had been brought to Britain by the invading Roman soldiers.
These included covering houses in greenery and bawdy partying that had its roots in the unruly festival of Saturnalia. The Church attempted to curb Pagan practices and popular customs were given Christian meaning.
Carols that had started as Pagan songs for celebrations such as midsummer and harvest were taken up by the Church. By the late medieval period the singing of Christmas carols had become a tradition.
The Church also injected Christian meaning into the use of holly, making it a symbol for Jesus' crown of thorns. According to one legend, the holly's branches were woven into a painful crown and placed on Christ's head by Roman soldiers who mocked him, chanting: "Hail King of the Jews.
Another legend is about a little orphan boy who was living with shepherds when the angels came to announce Jesus' birth.
The child wove a crown of holly for the newborn baby's head. But when he presented it, he became ashamed of his gift and started to cry.
Miraculously the baby Jesus reached out and touched the crown. It began to sparkle and the orphan's tears turned into beautiful scarlet berries.
From the middle of the 17th century until the early 18th century the Christian Puritans suppressed Christmas celebrations in Europe and America.
The Puritan movement began during the reign of Queen Elizabeth in England They believed in strict moral codes, plenty of prayer and close following of New Testament scripture.
As the date of Christ's birth is not in the Gospels the Puritans thought that Christmas was too strongly linked to the Pagan Roman festival and were opposed to all celebration of it, particularly the lively, boozy celebrations inherited from Saturnalia.
In all Christmas activities were banned in England. This included decorating houses with evergreens and eating mince pies. The telling of the Christmas story has been an important part of the Christianisation of Christmas.
One way that the Christmas story has been maintained is through the crib, a model of the manger that Jesus was born in. In many parts of Europe in the 18th century crib making was an important craft form.
This was not the case in England until much later, suggesting that British Christmases were less Christian than those in other parts of Europe.