Wish you Merry Christmas!
When is Christmas celebrated?
What do we know about Christmas?
Most of us know that Christmas is on December 25th and that’s all there is to Christmas.
Do you know that for many people around the world, in different countries and in different Christian traditions, Christmas lasts for a longer time – and is infact celebrated at different times?
Although December 25th is the date when Christmas is celebrated, there are some other dates as well! Have a look….
Some churches (essentially Orthodox churches) use a different calendar for their religious celebrations. Orthodox Churches in Russia, Serbia, Jerusalem, Ukraine, Ethiopia and other countries use the old ‘Julian’ calendar and so Christmas is celebrated on January 7th in these countries.
Most people in the Greek Orthodox Church celebrate Christmas on December 25th. But some still use the Julian calendar and so celebrate Christmas on 7th January!
In Armenia, the Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6th. It also celebrates ‘Epiphany’ on this day.
Why is Christmas on 25th December?
Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who is believed to be the Son of God.
The name ‘Christmas’ comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service (also called Communion or Eucharist) is where Jesus died for the sake of humanity and then came back to life. The ‘Christ-Mass’ service was the only one that was allowed to take place after sunset (and before sunrise the next day), so people had it at Midnight! So we get the name Christ-Mass, shortened to Christmas.
Christmas is now celebrated by people around the world, whether they are Christians or not. It’s a time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have. People, and especially children, also like Christmas as it’s a time when you give and receive presents!
Merry Christmas Celebrations
Christmas is celebrated not just on one day, 25th December. But the celebrations start before that and continue 40 days after Christmas.
The Tradition of Advent
Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas. Advent in Latin means ‘Coming’. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. The time of Advent is used to prepare and celebrate the joy of Christmas.
There are three meanings of ‘coming’ that Christians describe in Advent. The first happened about 2000 years ago when Jesus came into the world as a baby to live as a man and die for us. The second can happen now as Jesus wants to come into our lives now. And the third will happen in the future when Jesus comes back to the world as King and Judge, not a baby.
Some people fast during Advent to help them concentrate on preparing to celebrate Jesus’ coming. In many Orthodox and Eastern Catholics Churches, Advent lasts for 40 days and starts on November 15th and is also called the Nativity Fast. In Orthodox Churches which celebrate Christmas on 7th January, Advent starts on 28th November!
The 12 Days of Christmas
The 12 Days of Christmas starts on Christmas Day and last till the evening of the 5th January – also known as Twelfth Night. Throughout history, the 12 Days of Christmas were a time of feasting and fun.
The 12 Days each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a saint or have different celebrations:
- Day 1 (25th December): Christmas Day – celebrating the Birth of Jesus
- Day 2 (26th December also known as Boxing Day): St Stephen’s Day. He was the first Christian martyr (someone who dies for their faith). It’s also the day when the Christmas Carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’ takes place.
- Day 3 (27th December): St John the Apostle (One of Jesus’s Disciples and friends)
- Day 4 (28th December): The Feast of the Holy Innocents – when people remember the baby boys which King Herod killed when he was trying to find and kill the Baby Jesus.
- Day 5 (29th December): St Thomas Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century and was murdered on 29th December 1170 for challenging the King’s authority over Church.
- Day 6 (30th December): St Egwin of Worcester.
- Day 7 (31st December): New Years Eve (known as Hogmanay in Scotland). Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day. He was one of the earliest popes (in the 4th Century). In many central and eastern European countries (including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Slovenia) New Years Eve is still sometimes called ‘Silvester’. In the UK, New Year’s Eve was a traditional day for ‘games’ and sporting competitions. Archery was a very popular sport and during the middle ages it was the law that it had to be practiced by all men between ages 17-60 on Sunday after Church!
- Day 8 (1st January): 1st January – Mary, the Mother of Jesus
- Day 9 (2nd January): St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two important 4th century Christians.
- Day 10 (3rd January): Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This remembers when Jesus was officially ‘named’ in the Jewish Temple. It’s celebrated by different churches on a wide number of different dates!
- Day 11 (4th January): St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the past it also celebrated the feast of Saint Simon Stylites (who lives on a small platform on the top of a pillar for 37 years!).
- Day 12 (5th January also known as Epiphany Eve): St. John Neumann who was the first Bishop in American. He lived in the 19th century.
Twelfth Night was a big time of celebration with people holding large parties. During these parties, often the roles in society were reversed with the servants being served by the rich people. This dated back to medieval and Tudor times when Twelfth Night marked the end of ‘winter’ which had started on 31st October with All Hallows Eve (Halloween).
Twelfth Night is also known as Epiphany Eve. In many countries its traditional to put the figures of the Wise Men/Three Kings into the Nativity Scene on Epiphany Eve ready to celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January.
It’s also traditional to take your Christmas decorations down following Twelfth Night.
Candlemas – The End of Christmas
After both Christmas and the season of Epiphany, the end of the Christmas celebrations comes on February 2nd, 40 days after Christmas, with Candlemas.
Candlemas, also known as the ‘Presentation of Jesus at the Temple’ or the ‘Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (or Mary)’ is the when some Christians remember the time when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem to give thanks to God for giving them a son.
The name Candlemas comes from ‘Candle Mass’ because in many Candlemas services, the candles are blessed to be used in churches during the coming year or are given out to people for them to use in their homes and private prayers.
In many Catholic churches, it’s a time when people remember and renew promises they’ve made to the church and celebrate some of the prophesies which were given about Jesus.
In many Eastern/Orthodox churches, an all night vigil is held on the night before the candle blessing ceremony. In the morning, the candles are blessed and are given out to people.
Merry Christmas Greetings and Merry Christmas Cards
Christmas is a magical time of the year. Spread happiness with these beautiful Merry Christmas Greetings and Merry Christmas Cards.
Merry Christmas Wishes 2016
Merry Christmas is the most said word at the time of Christmas. People meet at the party, hug each other and convey Merry Christmas Wishes. If you are looking for Merry Christmas Wishes 2016, Merry Christmas Quotes then you are at the right place. Here are the best Merry Christmas Wishes for you.
Wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!