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  • Aikaterina Karageorgiadi

The Story of Christmas

For both religious and commercial reasons, Christmas tends to be the most celebrated holiday globally. the 25th of December, or Christmas day, is widely regarded as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. However, there are differences within sects of Christianity; Orthodox countries may celebrate on the 7th of January. This difference is created because the Orthodox Church still follows the Gregorian calendar which bares a difference of 13 days to the Julian Calendar, used by the Catholic Church.

Winter has historically been valued and celebrated by a range of cultures. The precise date on which Jesus was born is unclear, and the New Testament provides no clues. The 25th of December was the day that the Roman Empire celebrated the winter Solstice, hence the modern adoption for the anniversary of Christ's birth.

The story goes as follows: Mary and Joseph were ordered by a Roman emperor to travel to Bethlehem. After travelling for days with Mary pregnant on donkey-back, Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and were told that there were no places to stay as all of the inns were full on that night. Seeing that Mary was due at any moment, an inn owner told Joseph that they could stay in his stable, and it was in this stable that Mary gave birth to baby Jesus. At that time, an angel appeared to shepherds who were watching their flocks in the fields nearby. The angel told them the good news, and the shepherds went to find Jesus. After some time 3 wise men saw the brilliant star in the sky that rested over the stable where Jesus was born. The 3 wise men travelled a long distance to find the new king and present him with gifts.

So, what are some of the most common Christmas traditions today? International favourites include the decoration of a Christmas tree and the celebration of Santa Claus. The Christmas tree tradition dates back to Germany in the 16th to 17th centuries, while Santa Claus appears in different shapes and forms across the world. In the United States, he is presented as a chubby jolly man in a red suit; the result of a Coca-Cola advertisement in the early 1930s. In France, Père Noel has his own traditions and wears a cloak instead of a suit. The Netherlands has a figure by the name of Sinterklaas, who bears a close resemblance to the famous Saint Nicholas…

Other common traditions are sending Christmas cards, which began in England, and kissing under the mistletoe, which derives from a Celtic legend. Advent calendars are also used worldwide to count down the days until Christmas. It is said that this tradition has been around for more than 1600 years.

Other traditions like Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Yule, and many more, are also celebrated in the month of December for various lengths of time. It is important that we respect all of the ways that people celebrate winter. Overall, there is no right way to celebrate Christmas, whether it be for religious reasons or you are just in the spirit of giving.

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