The tradition of celebrating Christmas
One of the greatest holidays of the Christian world, the day of the birth of the son of God, the baby Jesus. In contrast the Orthodox traditions of the Catholic? Where did the custom of decorating a Christmas tree? How the celebration of Christmas in different countries? All this will be discussed in this article.
The History Of Christmas
The history of the celebration of Christmas begins with the birth of the baby Jesus in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
The successor of Julius Caesar, Augustus, commanded to make a census of the population in the state, which then included Palestine. The Jews in those days it was the custom to keep records at home and genera, each of which relates to a specific city. Therefore, the virgin Mary, along with her husband, elder Joseph, were forced to leave the Galilean city of Nazareth. They had to go to Bethlehem the city of David, which belonged to both of them, in order that their names be added to the list of subjects of Caesar.
In connection with the decree about the census all the hotels in town were filled. Pregnant Mary with Joseph managed to find a bed in a limestone cave where shepherds usually drove the cattle. In this place on a cold winter night was born the little Jesus. In the absence cradles the virgin swaddled son and laid him in a manger – a feeding trough for cattle.
The first who learned about the birth of the son of God, became shepherds guarding the flock close. He was an angel who solemnly announced the birth of the Savior of the World. Excited the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found the cave in which they spent the night Joseph and Mary with the baby.
At the same time from the East to meet the Saviour was in a hurry the Magi (wise men), long awaiting his birth. A bright star that suddenly lit up in the sky, showed them the way. After paying homage to the newborn Son of God, the Magi presented him with symbolic gifts. The long-awaited birth of the Savior rejoiced in the whole world.
Catholic and Orthodox Christmas celebration
History has not preserved information about the exact date of the birth of Jesus Christ. In ancient times the early Christians considered the celebration date of Christmas 6 (19) January. They believed that the Son of God, the Redeemer of human sins, was supposed to be born on the same day as the first sinner on Earth – Adam.
Later in the fourth century, by decree of the Roman Emperor Constantine Christmas was supposed to celebrate on December 25. This confirmed the assumption that the Son of God was conceived in the day of Jewish Easter fallen on March 25. In addition, on this day the Romans once celebrated the pagan festival of the Sun, which is now embodied by Jesus.
The difference in the views of the Orthodox and Catholic churches on the date of the celebration of Christmas arose as a result of introduction into use in the late sixteenth century of the Gregorian calendar. Many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches continued to be regarded as the birthday of Jesus Christ on 25 December according to the old, Julian, calendar, respectively, they are now celebrated on 7 January, new style. Catholic and Protestant churches chose a different path, announcing a day of Christmas on December 25 according to the new calendar. So entrenched divergence in the tradition of Catholics and Orthodox, which still exists today.
Customs of Orthodox Christmas: Christmas post
Christmas or Filippovsky post Orthodox begin to observe the 28th of November, forty days before the celebration of Christmas. Second the title of the post associated with the day of memory of Apostle Phillip. He is in "starting fast" is the eve of lent, when made to eat up all stocks of meat and dairy products that after not to be subjected to temptation.
Restrictions this post is not so severe, as, for example, the Great. The meaning of his that the soul could be cleansed by repentance and prayer, and the moderation in food. Especially strict it becomes Christmas eve.
Customs of Orthodox Christmas Eve
Christmas eve is usually called, the day preceding Orthodox Christmas. The tradition of celebrating I suppose that in this day fasting eat sochivo – cooked with honey wheat or barley grain.
In the morning this day, the Orthodox were preparing for the upcoming holiday: cleaned houses, washed floors, then they soared in a hot bath. In the evening, the children began to walk around the village, carrying on the torch Bethlehem star made of paper. Becoming under Windows or going to the threshold, they sang ceremonial songs – "Christmas carols" to wishing the owners of the house prosperity and goodness. For this, the children were rewarded with sweets, cakes, small money.
The hostess on this evening was preparing a special ceremonial food. Kutia, a wheat porridge with honey or flax seed oil symbolized the commemoration of the dead. The plate it was put on the hay under the icons as a sign of the birth of Jesus Christ in the manger. Uzvar (stewed fruit) compote in water of dried berries and fruit – it was customary to cook in honor of the birth into the light. The festive menu was rich and varied. Definitely preparing lots of pastries, pies, pancakes. As ended in the post, its place on the table occupied meats: ham, bacon, sausage. On hot-baked goose or even a pig.
To eat sat after the appearance of "Bethlehem" star. The table was first covered with straw, and then with a cloth. Be the first to put a candle and a plate of kutya. From under the tablecloth took out a straw, wondering: if long – bread this year will grow good if short – there is a crop failure.
To work on Christmas Eve traditionally was not.
Customs of Orthodox Christmas: Yuletide
Christmas celebration in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have absorbed many of the traditions of pre-Christian pagan beliefs of the Slavs. A vivid illustration of this are the Christmas festivities. According to custom, they began on the first day of Christmas and continues until Epiphany (January 19).
On Christmas morning, before dawn, was carried out the ritual of "posuwanie" huts. The house was supposed to go to the first man (in the villages it was a shepherd with his bag of oats) and the threshold to scatter the grain in all directions, wishing well-being to the owners.
Everywhere home started pretty young – in inside-out coats, with painted faces. They played various performances, skits, sang songs in exchange for a nominal reward. It was thought that in these days after the sun begins to rampage through the evil spirits, trying to make people sorts of dirty tricks. Therefore, Orthodox and mummers go from house to house, showing that the position has been filled and evil here, no way.
Also in the Christmas day young girls usually read "betrothed-costumed"
The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree
The celebration of New year and Christmas today is almost unthinkable without a Christmas tree, decorated with toys and lights. According to scientists, the first Christmas trees appeared in the German houses even back in the VIII century. Initially, there was a law prohibiting to put in the house more than one tree. Thanks to him, we have the first written evidence about the Christmas tree.
In those days there was a tradition to decorate a fir tree with shiny detail, with figures of colored paper, coins, and even waffles. By the seventeenth century, in Germany and Scandinavia a Christmas tree ornament turned into the unchanging rite that symbolizes the celebration of Christmas.
In Russia this tradition appeared thanks to Peter the great, who ordered the subjects to decorate the house in Christmas day spruce and pine branches. But in the 1830-ies in the homes of Germans of St. Petersburg there was the first whole tree. Gradually this tradition was picked up by the native inhabitants of the country with characteristic Russian large scale. Spruce began to be installed everywhere, including in the squares and streets of the cities. In the minds of people they have become strongly associated with Christmas holiday.
Christmas and New year in Russia
In 1916 the celebration of Christmas in Russia was officially forbidden. There was a war with Germany, and the Holy Synod considered the Christmas tree "accursed thing".
With the formation of the Soviet Union, the people once again allowed to set and decorate the Christmas tree. However the religious meaning of Christmas has shifted into the background, and its rites and attributes gradually absorbed New Year, turned into a secular family celebration. Bethlehem seven-pointed star on the spruce top was replaced by a five-pointed Soviet star. The output on Christmas day was canceled.
After the Soviet Union collapsed, not much change happened. The most important winter holidays in the post-Soviet space remains the New Year. Christmas began to be widely noted recently, mostly Orthodox believers living in these countries. However, on Christmas eve in churches held a solemn service that is directly broadcasted on television, the feast was returned to the status of the day.
The celebration of Christmas in USA
In the United States of America, the tradition of celebrating Christmas began to settle down quite late – eighteenth century. The puritans, Protestants, and Baptists, who constituted a large and most influential portion of the settlers to the New world, for a long time resisted his celebration, even entering for the fines and penalties at the legislative level.
The first American Christmas tree was installed in front of the White house in 1891. And yet four years later, on December 25 was recognized as a national holiday and declared a day off.
The customs of celebrating Christmas: the decoration of houses
In the US for a festive Christmas, we decided to decorate not only trees, but also at home. Along the Windows and under the eaves hung the lights, sparkling with all the colors of the rainbow. Garlands decorate trees and bushes in the garden.
In front of the entrance doors, home owners usually put the glowing shapes of animals or snowmen. On the door hung a Christmas wreath of fir branches and cones, intertwined with ribbons, complemented with beads, bells and flowers. These wreaths also decorate the interior of the house. Evergreen needles – the personification of the triumph over death – symbolizes happiness and prosperity.
The customs of celebrating Christmas: family night
Customary for the celebration of Christmas a large family all of whom gathered at my parents ' house. Before the celebratory dinner, the head of the family usually reads the prayers. Then everyone eats a piece of consecrated bread and drinking a SIP of red wine.
You can then begin the meal. Traditional meals are prepared to celebrate Christmas in each country and region. So, in the United States on the table always served the soup with beans and cabbage, homemade sausages, fish, potato pie. The English and the Scots to this day is sure to stuff the Turkey, prepare the pie. In Germany, traditionally prepare and cook goose, mulled wine.
The customs of celebrating Christmas: gifts and hymns
After a generous and hearty festive dinner, all usually start handing each other gifts. And prepare the kids "Christmas stockings" which are hung by the fireplace: in the morning Santa Claus will leave it a surprise for them. Often children leave under the tree treats for Santa Claus and his reindeer, to those at Christmas, too, was hungry.
The celebration of Christmas in small American towns also had another tradition. On Christmas morning people visit each other and sing old songs dedicated to this holiday. Children dressed as angels performed Christmas carols, praising God and the birth of the baby Jesus Christ.