• Christmas in the World: Celebrations, Symbols and Traditions

    By smbea


    The ancient Romans were the real party animals. They had a party for seven days. And boy, was it wild! They had the grandest feasts, street processions, masquerades and exchange of gifts. They called their celebration Saturnalia and it was in honor of Saturn, their god of agriculture. It was this party that became the predecessor of that global celebration we, the new generation of party animals, now know as Christmas.


    In the year 273, a new pagan religion was invented by the Emperor -- the cult of Sol Invictus (which means "god of the invincible sun") and guess what? His birthday fell on the 25th of December! Eight decades later, in 354, and Jesus' name was first mentioned to connote a celebration. The actual birthday of Jesus is not known, though thought to be near the shortest day of the year. Early Christian priests obviously found the traditional time of merry-making a convenient choice for the celebration of his birth.


    Christmas, as we call it, comes from Xmas, signifying "Christ's Mass"; X being the first letter of Xristos, the Greek word for Christ. (As time went on and fewer people understood ancient Greek, the "X" came to have a pagan and disrespectful connotation.)


    During the 17th century, the Puritans believed there was no room for frivolity. In 1644 Parliament banned Christmas. In 1659, it was banned in New England. In Massachusetts, Christmas was not made a legal holiday until 1856. It was during the Victorian age that Christmas, as we know it, and all the traditions that go along with it, began.


    And then came Santa Claus


    We were all children once and one time or another, before we all grew up and lost the child in us to be replaced by logical and rational thinking minds, we believed in Santa Claus.


    Yeah, remember? He's the guy in the red suit; the white-bearded, red-cheeked, chimney-hopping, milk- and-cookie eating, ho-ho-ho-ing, sleigh-driving, North Pole inhabiting, jolly old man named Santa Claus.


    He might be called by people all over the world by different names -- Le Père noël by the French, Weihnachtsmann by the Germans, Il Babbo Natale by the Italians, Papai Noel by the Portuguese, Papá Noel by the Spanish -- but in the end, he's still Santa Claus, the old man who makes children look forward to Christmas and who makes every person, young and old, happy.


    While Santa Claus' origins were in Europe, it was when the Dutch brought him to America that Santa Claus began his rise to fame. Three men gave birth to the Santa Claus we now know today -- Dr. Clement Moore who wrote a poem for his children, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822; Thomas Nast who was the cartoonist who illustrated the Santa Claus in Moore's poem in 1863; and Haddon Sundblom who created Santa Claus in a red suit trimmed with fur and white beard for Coca-Cola in 1931.


    Who really is Santa Claus? And why did he become one of the most important icons of Christmas? Does he really exist? Click on the following links to discover more about this man who, at one point in our lives, made Christmas one of our most awaited year events. And maybe then, you'll start believing again.

    A Santa Claus History
    Timeless Quote: "Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus."
    You think Santa's on the North Pole? He's also on the Net.



    The Symbols of Christmas

    Aside from Santa Claus, Christmas abounds with symbols and traditions. Most of these stem from ancient practices that have been carried over the centuries and generations. Perhaps the second most popular symbol of Christmas, next to Jesus and Santa Claus, is the Christmas tree. Popular, too, are the mistletoe, the Christmas stocking, the ivy and holly, and several others more. Click here to find out more about the symbols that make Christmas.



    Christmas all over the world

    December 25th is a day when all the people of the world come together to welcome the birth of Jesus. Different cultures and different countries all have their own way of celebrating our Savior's birth. Click here to see how they do it.

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