Why Do We Celebrate Christmas?

a hand in front of a Christmas tree holding a gift

Several different reasons have been put forth as to why we celebrate Christmas. One of the more prevalent reasons is that the date of December 25 coincides with the winter solstice.

On this day, the sunset in Jerusalem is on its lowest point, and it is not until December 25 that it begins its ascent. This astronomical event marked for many cultures, including early Christians, a time of hope and renewal. For Christians, Jesus was born at this time to provide new life and hope for all humanity.

 

An Introduction

The holiday season is a time of giving, and Christmas is the most popular event for people to partake in. Yet what many forget about this beautiful celebration because it has its roots in the ancient Roman pagan festival Saturnalia, which would be celebrated on December 17 every year.

The tradition of exchanging gifts may have been adapted from Mithraism, another mystery religion that involved sacrificing animals and sharing their meat with friends and family. Christianity itself could have influenced how we exchange gifts today through Jesus’s story of the wise men who followed a star to bring him skills.

The Magi were Hebrew astrologers that came from Persia. As you may know, the Persians were heavily influenced by the Zoroastrian religion, which included all sorts of things we recognise today in modern Christmas traditions.  This includes wearing red and green to symbolise good and evil, respectively, and “Christmas trees” that were just a way to worship the sun.

 

Common Questions Asked About Christmas

hands holding a tiny gift covered in red wrapper

What is the meaning of Christmas?

Christmas is a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The date is not, specific but Christmas traditionally falls between December 20 and December 31 on the Western (Gregorian) Calendar. Most people celebrate it in one way or another.

For Christians, especially Catholics – Christmas means going back to the basics of the faith and remembering that Jesus was born into a world that needed peace, tolerance, forgiveness and love – it is also an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices he made for our families and us.

 

Why do we celebrate Christmas?

This is a good question. The short answer is that Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus, who lived in Palestine (in what is now called Israel and the Palestinian Territories) more than 2,000 years ago and

How is Jesus relevant today?

The story of Jesus is a powerful one, in which he teaches that love triumphs overpower and violence every time – that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, if you ask for God’s forgiveness, then He will forgive you, and you will be saved.

Is Christmas a religious festival?

Christmas is not just for Christians but everyone, yes it’s about spirituality, but more than that – it’s about peace, forgiveness, tolerance and love: the things that we all need to think about in these times of conflict around the world.

How did we get December 25 as Christmas Day?

Holy Family figurines

The Bible doesn’t specifically mention the birth date of Jesus. However, it does refer to his crucifixion as happening in the spring and says he was born around the time of a Jewish festival called ‘Passover’. Since Passover has always been celebrated in March or April, and there would have been no reason for Jesus to be born earlier than that, it is likely that if he was born at all, then the date we know as December 25 must have been when it happened.

When did the Christian Church Recognise December as Jesus’ birthday?

Christians have always wanted to celebrate Christmas on the actual date of Christ’s birth but had no idea when that might be. They knew it must have been in spring for hundreds of years and so celebrated it at Easter time. However, there is still a tiny Christian group known as the ‘Quartodecimans’ who believe they are the faithful followers of Jesus and celebrate it on December 25. They were excommunicated from their churches for this belief during the 4th century but have survived.

What did Christmas mean for Jesus?

For Christians like myself who believe that Jesus was God himself in human form, his birth represents a turning point in history. Because it was the first time, God had ever been able to enter into human life and experience what it’s like to be one of us.

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