Photo by Reader’s Digest
What comes to mind when you hear Christmas is probably a time for you and your family to put up a Tree, open presents, sing carols and be merry but there's a deeper meaning to Christmas. People around the world celebrate Christmas annually with all kinds of traditions, but do you know the true meaning of the festivity?
The True Meaning of Christmas
Christmas is important as it relates to the Christian religion and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December. The word ‘Christmas’ itself says it all, it means ‘mass on Christ’s day’. According to Britannica, mass is another word for the act of worshiping in the Roman Catholic Church and the celebration of the eucharist. As mentioned by Britannica, Sextus Julius Africanus recognized the date 25th December to be the birth of Jesus Christ which then became accepted globally. 25th December was originally known to be the day of the birth of the unconquered sun, celebrating the Winter Solstice symbolizing the resurgence of the sun, the end of winter and the announcement of the next season.
The common iconic colours you see during the Christmas season are white, green and red. Why green? According to Holidappy, green represents trees and the holly branch, it is also to remind people of the seasons that are to come after winter like spring, autumn and summer.
The colour red is the colour of holly berries, cranberries and Santa Claus’ suit that he wears. The colour red represents the blood of Jesus Christ that he shed during the crucifixion.
The Meaning Behind the Common Christmas Traditions
Photo by The Sun
The most traditional thing to do for Christmas is to set up a Christmas Tree with your family but what is the significance of setting up a tree? According to History, Christmas Trees were around since the middle ages in Germany but only became popular in the United Kingdom and the United States of America during the 19th century. As mentioned by whychristmas.com and Floweraura, the meaning behind the Christmas Tree for Christians is to represent the everlasting life with God, while the branches of the tree symbolizes the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ wore on the cross. During these times, Christmas Trees can be artificial or real, big or small and decorated to our preference.
Presents are a huge part of Christmas, especially to the kids who have the joy of opening presents to see what your family got you as well as the satisfaction of elders watching their family open the presents they got for them. The spirit of sharing can be felt while being all together around the Christmas Tree exchanging items. Getting gifts for your loved ones is always fun because you get to go shopping but many people may not know how to wrap the gifts and may find it boring using the normal Christmas wrappers, turn it up a notch and wrap your gifts with fabric, newspaper or magazines based on your own imagination.
What is the meaning behind giving Christmas presents? According to Gifts International, gift-giving started from the time of the birth of Jesus Christ when the Three Wise Men (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar) who followed the star to get to the location of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Three Wise Men gave gifts to make their tributes to baby Jesus, gifting him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Photo by howstuffworks
Santa Claus has been a big part of Christmas for many years already, he is a huge role model to the children as he brings joy and gifts for them. Santa Claus is known to be the guy with the red suit, the white beard and the person who brings gifts for children who are nice but brings coal or nothing to the children who are naughty. He is also known as the father of Christmas.
A 4th-century Christian patron saint, Saint Nicholas was the inspiration behind Santa Claus. The name ‘Santa Claus’ was developed from his Dutch nickname ‘Sinter Klaas’ as mentioned by History. According to Biography, the 6th of December was the day of faithful celebration of Saint Nicholas day. On December 6th, the children are to put out their shoes one night before the 6th. The next morning, the children would find presents laid out for them by Saint Nicholas, which became a tradition every year. It was then decided, instead of having presents laid out for children on the 6th of December, it became a tradition for the Christmas holiday.
Leaving milk and cookies out for Santa Claus has its significance as well. As stated by History, leaving milk and cookies out began during the Great Depression in the 1930s. This is to be a lesson to the children to show gratitude by giving back to others especially during hard times.
What better ways to count down the days to Christmas than with an advent calendar? There are many different types of advent calendars, starting with the most common which is food advent calendars such as chocolates or candies, then there are beauty advent calendars such as perfumes or make-up, there are also wine advent calendars and many more. Having an advent calendar brings out the excitement in us to open one each day because you’ll never know what you’re gonna get until after you open one each day.
According to Weihnachtsmuseum, the first-ever advent calendar that was created was by Gerhad Lang back in the early 1900s with the inspiration coming from when he was younger, his mother used to give him 24 cookies sewn on the lid of a box, only being able to eat one a day during the advent period.
As mentioned by crosswalk.com, the word ‘advent’ is taken from the Latin word ‘adventus’ which has the meaning of ‘the coming’. There are two meanings behind the advent calendar, first is to remind us of Jesus Christ’s birth, while the second meaning is to encourage us to look forward to His second coming.
Photo by MUO
Listening to Christmas music is a big part of Christmas, listening to Christmas music gets you in the mood of Christmas and the feels of Christmas. As stated by Reader’s Digest, the first-ever Christmas song that was created was ‘Angels Hymn’, a song that was created back in AD 129. According to whychristmas.com, Christmas carols are pagan songs that were sung in churches during mass. Back in the day, Christmas carols were sung while people would be dancing around stone circles at the celebrations of the Winter Solstice. The meaning behind the word ‘carol’ is the dance of praise and happiness.
Photo by Viator
According to Smithsonian, Christmas lights came about in New York, the United States of America in 1882 by Edward Hibberd Johnson who came up with the idea of stringing light bulbs around the Christmas tree in New York. The lights were then popular by the year 1914 as people liked the idea of putting up lights on the Christmas tree and everywhere else as a decoration to the house. As stated by SayWhyDoI.com, the meaning behind putting up the Christmas lights was to symbolize the hope and the good in this world, while to the Christians it meant to bring light upon the people around you and to always follow the lighted way of Jesus Christ.
Christmas is about giving and not receiving, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, spending time with your family, having an amazing roasted chicken dinner, putting up decorations and opening presents together as a family. Each tradition has its meanings behind it, don’t just do something blindly because everyone else is doing it, rather know the meaning behind it before doing something and don’t be afraid to create your own new tradition with your family.
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
- Mother Theresa.
Now, have fun opening your presents! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
By Dephyn Chew