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Blessings and Delights of Christmas Celebrations -Puri

Blessings and Delights of Christmas Celebrations -Puri
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Blessings and Delights of Christmas Celebrations -Puri

Jaswant Singh Puri

Christmas is an annual festival and primarily celebrated on December 25 to solemnize the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a religious and cultural celebration for billions of people throughout the globe. Christmas means ‘The Mass of Christ’ which means the holy mass of Christ.

It is one of the most awaited and auspicious day for the Christians. Four weeks before the Christmas, the season of Advent begins when people do preparations for this grand festival. The Christmas season called Christmastide concludes on 6 January which is also known as the Twelfth Day of Christmas when Christians solemnize ‘Epiphany’.

Christmas celebration traditions vary from country to country but most of these include a feast, exchange of greeting gifts, cards and wishes, to visit churches and sing Christmas carols. The idea of Santa Claus is derived from Saint Nicholas, a Christian Saint of Fourth Century of Greece. It is stated that before the fourth century AD, Christian could have Christmas celebration in secret. Its open celebration began with Constantine who was the Emperor of Rome. He got built some of the oldest churches in Rome who promulgated Christianity celebration as a legal right.

Christmas was widely celebrated with a specific liturgy in the ninth century. But it could not pick up the liturgical significance of Good Friday and Easter-the other two Christian Festivals. The Feast Day reminded Christians of God’s gift of Jesus to humankind even as the coming of the Wise Men or Magi to Bethlehem suggested that Christmas was somehow related to gifts and this tradition of gifts goes back to the 15th century. In most European countries, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve.

Blessings and Delights of Christmas Celebrations -Puri

December 25 was earlier identified as the day of Jesus’s birth to Virgin Mary by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221. There is a popular explanation about the origin of this date. December 25 was the Christianizing of the “day of the birth of the unconquered sun”. It is a popular holiday in the Roman Kingdom. They solemnized the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun. It signified the casting away of winter and the advent of the rebirth of spring and summer. After this, December 25 was recognized as the date of Jesus’s birth. Christian authors thus corroborated the link between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the son. There is another view that clarifies December 25 as the date of birth of Jesus Christ. This view identified the spring equinox as the date of the creation of the world and the fourth day of creation. It was the day when the light was created as the day of Jesus’s conception (March 25). Nine months later, December 25 became the date of Jesus’s birth. However, for a long time, Jesus’s birth was celebrated in connection with his baptism, celebrated on January 6.

Roman Catholic Churches solemnise the first Christmas Mass at midnight. Protestant Churches have held Christmas candlelight services late on the evening of December 24. A very special service of ‘lessons and carols intertwines Christmas Carols with Scripture readings to narrate Salvation Chronicle right from the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden to the coming of Christ.

Blessings and Delights of Christmas Celebrations -Puri

There are varied hues of Christmas customs which are thought to be originated in theological or liturgical concepts. There is the custom of placing branches of Fir trees in houses. Fir tree decorated with apples were first known in Strasbourg in 1605. The use of candles in such trees was observed in 1611. The Advent Wreath which is created with fur branches and four candles symbolize four Sundays of the Advent season. It is of latest origin in North America. The custom had its roots in the sixteenth century. However, at the end of the eighteenth century, the practice of giving gifts to family members was incepted.  The customs and traditions do vary from country to country. For instance, the morning of December 25 has become the befitting time for the exchange of gifts in North America. Eastern Orthodox Churches who continue to use the Julian calendar for their liturgical observances, the date corresponds to January 7 on the Georgian calendar. But In Armenia, the church uses its own calendar. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates January 6 as Christmas. But the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church solemnizes Christmas on January 7. The Syriac Orthodox enjoy the festival on January 6 with the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Usually, saintly people are tortured for their truth and loyalty as the history is an evidence. To the Romans, Jesus was a troubleshooter and he was crucified on a charge of treason. To the Christians, he was a martyr. In the canonical gospels, Jesus was arrested and tried by the Sahedrin and then by Pontius Pilate. He was finally crucified by the Roman Empire. The crucifixion and death of Jesus occurred in First Century Judea, most likely in 30 A.D.or 33 A.D. The crowd of religious leaders laughed at Jesus’s weakness and shouted “He saved others, but he cannot save himself” After his death, there was an earthquake. People rose from the dead – a symbol that all those who believed and trusted in Jesus would be brought to new life. Jesus being a Man of God, Man of love asked God “Forgive them for they do not know what they do.” Jesus willingly sacrificed his life and said “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.”

The crucifixion of Jesus was a part of God’s plan from the very beginning of the birth of Jesus. The sin of Mankind would require a sacrifice. The life of Jesus was sinless and he sacrificed it so that man could get salvation and eternal life in heaven.

Blessings and Delights of Christmas Celebrations -Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri

Note: This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri, M.A. (Hindi, B.Ed.) who was the Secretary, Ladies Club, Punjabi University, Patiala during the tenure of Vice Chancellor Dr. S.S. Johal, awarded with Padma Bhushan in 2004. Smt. Alka Puri was the wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.

(The views expressed are personal)

December 25,2022