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Merry Christmas Friends

jasmine477 Senior Member
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Posted: 18 December 2010 at 11:56pm | IP Logged

 Merry Christmas dear friendsHug

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 Christmas Traditions

When was the first Christmas card sent? Why do we kiss under the mistletoe? Learn the origins of Christmas and fun facts about some of our favorite christmas traditions and symbols.

There are lots of Christmas traditions that are practiced by a number of countries all over the world during the holiday season. These traditions can be as diverse as the culture and religious practices of each and every country in the world

Origins of Christmas
christmas traditions

From the Old English 'Cristes Msse' ~ meaning the 'mass of Christ' ~ the story of Christmas begins with the birth of a babe in Bethlehem.

It is believed that Christ was born on the 25th, although the exact month is unknown. December was likely chosen so the Catholic Church could compete with rival pagan rituals held at that time of year and because of its closeness with the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, a traditional time of celebration among many ancient cultures.

Santa Claus

christmas traditions

The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas' popularity throughout Europe.

His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop's mitre.

In Greece, he is the patron saint of sailors, in France he was the patron of lawyers, and in Belgium the patron of children and travellers. Thousands of churches across Europe were dedicated to him and some time around the 12th century an official church holiday was created in his honor. The Feast of St. Nicholas was celebrated December 6 and the day was marked by gift-giving and charity.

After the Reformation, European followers of St. Nicholas dwindled, but the legend was kept alive in Holland where the Dutch spelling of his name Sint Nikolaas was eventually transformed to Sinterklaas. Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace, and Sinterklaas would reward good children by placing treats in their shoes. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.

In 1822 Clement C. Moore composed the poem
A Visit From Saint Nicholas, published as The Night Before Christmas as a gift for his children. In it, he portrays Santa Claus:

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Other countries feature different gift-bearers for the Christmas or Advent season: La Befana in Italy ~ The Three Kings in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico ~ Christkindl or the Christ Child in Switzerland and Austria ~ Father Christmas in England ~ and Pere Nol, Father Christmas or the Christ Child in France. Still, the figure of Santa Claus as a jolly, benevolent, plump man in a red suit described in Moore's poem remains with us today and is recognized by children and adults alike around the world.

Christmas Trees

xmas traditions

In 16th-century Germany fir trees were decorated, both indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies, and colored paper. In the Middle Ages, a popular religous play depicted the story of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

A fir tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden of Eden -- the Paradise Tree. The play ended with the prophecy of a saviour coming, and so was often performed during the Advent season.

It is held that Protestant reformer Martin Luther first adorned trees with light. While coming home one December evening, the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home

In 16th-century Germany fir trees were decorated, both indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies, and colored paper. In the Middle Ages, a popular religous play depicted the story of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

A fir tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden of Eden -- the Paradise Tree. The play ended with the prophecy of a saviour coming, and so was often performed during the Advent season.

It is held that Protestant reformer Martin Luther first adorned trees with light. While coming home one December evening, the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home

The Christmas Tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria's m his native Germany. The famous Illustrated News etching in 1848, featuring the Royal Family of Victoria, Albert and their children gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle, popularized the tree throughout Victorian England. Brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans, the Christmas tree became by the late 19th century.

Focus on Christmas Traditions in US

The variations of the Christmas traditions of USA equal the number active cultures that have settled in the land. These cultural contributions were given a new lease of life by creative artists, authors, poets and songwriters, and it was melded together by the power of secular and commercialized media in record companies, radio stations, television, cinemas and now the internet. The unwritten law of media is the presentation of a seemingly uniform celebration of the Christmas traditions of USA. This is responsible for the world wide acceptance of a universal Christmas image which they get from the media. Nevertheless, the celebrations are peculiar to each region.


Christmas Stockings

 

According to legend, a kindly nobleman grew despondent over the death of his beloved wife and foolishly squandered his fortune. This left his three young daughters without dowries and thus facing a life of spinsterhood.

The generous St. Nicholas, hearing of the girls' plight, set forth to help. Wishing to remain anonymous, he rode his white horse by the nobleman's house and threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were fortuitously captured by the stockings the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry. 

Christmas stockings are hung near the chimney on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus to fill it with goodies for the children. It is an empty sock or a bag that is given the shape of a sock. The children in United States and some other countries have been following this tradition of hanging a Christmas stocking, believing that Father Christmas will fill it with sweets and gifts for them. The items that are believed to be stuffed in the Christmas stocking by Santa Claus are known as stocking stuffers.


 

Mistletoe

Mistletoe was used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter.

The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.

Scandanavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

Holly, Ivy and Greenery

In Northern Europe Christmas occurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.

Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed.

Poinsettias

A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant.

The Candy cane

 

It was not long after Europeans began using Christmas trees that special decorations were used to adorn them. Food items, such as candies and cookies, were used predominately and straight white candy sticks were one of the confections used as ornamentation. Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created the white sticks of candy in the shape of shephreds' crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.

The candy treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom of passing out the candy crooks at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.

According to the National Confectioner's Association, in 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack's brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious process of creating the treats and the popularity of the candy cane grew.

More recent explanations of the candy cane's symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ's purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for these notions does not exist, they have become increasingly common and at times are even represented as fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite holiday treat and decoration

.



The Candy Cane Story

A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would remind people of the true meaning of Christmas; so he made the candy cane to incorporate several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and the firmness of the promises of God.

The candymaker then shaped his cane into the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to the earth as Savior. It could also represent the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down to to reclaim the fallen lambs who, like sheep, have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

Christmas cards

 

A form of Christmas card began in England first when young boys practiced their writing skills by creating Christmas greetings for their parents, but it is Sir Henry Cole who is credited with creating the first real Christmas card. The first director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Henry found himself too busy in the Christmas season of 1843 to compose individual Christmas greetings for his friends.

He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley for the illustration. The card featured three panels, with the center panel depicting a family enjoying Christmas festivities and the card was inscribed with the message "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You

Hanukkah

 

Commencing on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Syrians.

In 168 BC, members of the Jewish family Maccabee led a revolt against the Greek Syrians due to the policies of Syrian King Antiochus IV which were aimed at nullifying the Jewish faith. Part of this strategem included changing the Beit HaMikdash - the Holy Temple in Jerusalem - to a Greek temple complete with idolatry. Led by Judah Maccabee, the Jews won victory over the Syrians in 165 BC and reclaimed their temple.

After cleansing the temple and preparing for its rededication, it was found there was not enough oil to light the N'er Tamid, an oil lamp present in Jewish houses of worship which represents eternal light. Once lit, the lamp should never be extinguished.

A search of the temple produced a small vial of undefiled oil -- enough for only one day. Miraculously, the Temple lights burned for eight days until a new supply of oil was brought. In remembrance of this miracle, one candle of the Menorah - an eight branched candelabra - is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, which means dedication, is a Hebrew word when translated is commonly spelled Hanukah, Chanukah, and Hannukah due to different translations and customs.

The tradition of receiving gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is relatively new and due in part to the celebration's proximity to the Christmas season.

Kwanzaa

 

Doctor Maulana Karenga, a Professor at California State University in Long Beach, California, created Kwanzaa in 1966. It is a holiday celebrated by millions of African-Americans around the world, encouraging them to remember their African heritage and consider their current place in America today. Kwanzaa is celebrated fom December 26 to January 1 and involves seven principles called Nguzo Saba: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

In the Kwanzaa ritual, seven candles called Mishumaa Saba are placed in a Kinara, or candleholder, which is then set upon the Mikeka, a mat usually made of straw.

Three green candles are placed on the left, three red candles on the right and a black candle in the center, each candle representing one of the seven principles of the celebration. One candle is lit each day of the Kwanzaa celebration, beginning from left to right The colors of Kwanzaa ~ black, red and green ~ also have a special significance. Black symbolizes the faces of the African people, Red symbolizes the blood they have shed, and Green represents hope and the color of the motherland. The name itself - Kwanzaa - is a Swahili word meaning "fruits of the harvest."

Christmas in India

Christmas, the biggest feast of Catholics all over the world rejoice as the month of December begins. While everyone begin to put up their decorations at home, Goa comes alive as decorations go up in every nook and corner. It is the only state not only in the entire country but also in the whole world that celebrates Christmas to the tee. Being a tropical state with sun kissed beaches, the whites love to come down and get their tan while celebrating the biggest feast of the year. Hence December is known as the peak season and prices and packages are at an all time high. Hotels, beaches, resorts, vacation homes are super packed. Cathedrals and churches design the crib, ready to bring home the saviour. With over a hundred churches, it is in Goa that you will get the real feeling of Christmas.
 
Notwithstanding that in other parts of India it is a lesser Christmas. But as Goa is inhabited by maximum Roman Catholics, almost every home has the light of a star shinning. All over India Churches have family day and other get-togethers for their parishioners. This way families come together to celebrate their grand feast. Sometimes even games are arranged for children of different age groups with snacks, where Santa comes in to meet the kids. Kids love to meet the big red man with a sack full of gifts. Even more because he gives them toffees and gifts. This style of celebrations is carried out for Christmas in Goa and other parts of India. Moreover the advent season i.e. the period before Christmas is spent in prayer and thanksgiving. Sweetmeats are prepared at home for Boxing Day and for all the guests who are to come. Every home even makes a crib to put baby Jesus in on Christmas Day. New clothes are purchased, homes are refurbished and happiness is welcomed with arms outstretched.

It is an interesting fact to note that the celebration of Christmas in India is held in a different manner in the various parts of the country. The way Christmas is celebrated in the North East is completely different from the way Christmas is celebrated in the South West.
Let us take a look at what are the various way of celebrating Christmas in India. Generally the Christians who live in the plains decorate mango or banana trees at Christmas time. Some of them also decorate their houses with mango leaves. However in some of the other parts of India, a lot of people use small clay oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations. These small clay lamps are placed on the edges of flat roofs and on the tops of walls.

During Christmas in India, most of the Churches are found decorated with poinsettias and lit with candles for the Christmas Eve service. One of the most famous locations for celebration of Christmas in India is Goa.
In fact not only people from different parts of India, but also people from all over the world throng to this seductive abode to be a part of exotic fiesta. If you happen to live in a good luxury hotel in Goa, then the mood for the fiesta will be altogether different.
In a luxury hotel you can expect that expensive Christmas trees will be decorated with stars and tinsels, toys, plastic fruits. In fact, the best time to explore any place in India during the festivals is the evenings. This is because all bulbs illuminates the dawn making it look more beautiful.

The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Meaning Behind The Song

   The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.
   The Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" may sound silly and contrived to many of us. But it actually had its origins in religious symbolism - and with a serious purpose.
   It dates from a time of religious persecution. The song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," was written as a kind of secret catechism that could sing in public without fear of arrest - a learning or memory aid to Christians in fact.
   The song can be taken at two levels of interpretation - the surface meaning, or the hidden meaning known only to the Christians involved. Each element is a code word for a religious truth.


1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.
12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.

   If you think Jesus being symbolized as a partridge in a pear tree sounds blasphemous, remember:
"Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so." (Luke 13:34 and Matthew 23:34)
   The "true love" in the song refers to God Himself.
   The "me" receiving the gifts is every Christian.
   So that "silly" song we sing at Christmas time has more meaning than we thought.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=337DT2AfSws&feature=related
 

 


Edited by gauravfan477 - 19 December 2010 at 12:13pm

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Posted: 19 December 2010 at 12:50am | IP Logged
Jas    Hug......wonderful post......thank u for all the info  Smile


Merry Christmas Image - 1


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HugWITH LOTS OF LOVE
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g8 post...Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!!
Great post Jas!!


Edited by 10on10 - 20 December 2010 at 12:46pm

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merry christmas everyone

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Merry Christmas ...............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

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