The History of Christmas

  • HoaiNiem

    khoảng 1 10 năm trước
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    Cũng đã lâu mình có research và viết bài với đề tài, "The History of Christmas" Mình posts dưới đây chia sẻ cùng các bạn đọc cho vui. Chúc các bạn mùa Giáng Sinh thật vui tươi và hạnh phúc.

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    “The History of Christmas”

    As each year comes to an end in December, All Christians as well as many non-Christians celebrate Christmas in one form or another around the world. Many beautiful memories have been created around the time of Christmas within family members and friends, and especially for lovers or those who are presently in love. But it is also a time that can generate great stress for those who are less fortunate financially, especially in the Western part of the world. So, I, like many of you, have celetrated Christmas for many years without a full understanding. As a result, I have done a little research summarizing what is Christmas and how it becomes to be celebrated on December 25th? I think this would be fun to share and to know. So, let’s travel together back in time to gain some understanding about Christmas.

    First of all, What is Christmas? The word Christmas comes from the Old English word Cristes maesse, which means Christ’s mass. Now the English word Christ derived from a Greek word in origin to mean the Anointed One, which was the translation for the Hebrew word Massiach, or the English word Messiah. Sometimes, we may see the word Christmas written as Xmas or X-mas, which is acceptable and correct in that, in Greek, X is the first letter of Christ’s name. But then someone may ask, “but I thought Christ name is Jesus Christ, or is it?”

    Correctly, Jesus was called Jesus the Christ, or Jesus the Anointed One. According to biblical and other historical writers, Jesus was the invented Greek word IesouV, with the “s” being added because of the Greek’s customary for masculine name to end in “s.” In Latin, the name was written as “Iesus”. But Jesus’ Hebrew name was Yeshua, which meant “Yahwey is salvation or God saves.” Jesus the Christ was eventually shortened to Jesus Christ. But then why Jesus Christ and without the last name of Joseph's or Yosep in Hebrew?

    This has been a continuing argument for nearly 2000 years to the present time among religions and biblical scholars about the nature of Jesus. In the early years or just right after the death of Jesus, there were two groups of jews- the Ebionites and the Nazarenes who followed Jesus’ teaching and considered the most loyal to his teaching. Ebionite was a Hebrew word to mean a branch from Jesus’ teaching in that God is the Vine and we are the Branches. Thus, they used this word to properly identify themselves as Jesus’ followers from the Judaism. Similarly and in a different part of the country at the time, Nazarene was also a Hebrew word to mean Poor from the teaching, “Bless are the poor,”. These two groups of people did not believe that Jesus was born of God and the immaculate virgin as most Christian people believe in the present day. They believed that Jesus was born as you and me and that his father and mother were that of Joseph and Mary. But due to persecution during the first 100 years or so, the two groups of people as mentioned and many others were completely annihilated. However, the argument continued in about 320 AD or so by Arius (a priest and a convert) who wrote to the bishop Alexander and his assistant Athanasius that Jesus was born of man first, before acquired his Divinity Nature of God. Arius believed Jesus was not born of God Divine by Nature. This argument was settled in 325 CE (Common Era or AD) at the Council of Nicea with the signed Creed, also presently known as the Apostle Creed, composed by Athanasius. The doctrine was fully supported by other bishops and Constantine, an emporer of the Roman empire and the first converted emporer to Christianity at the time. From that time on, the doctrine that Jesus was born of God and not of man was enforced upon the people, and from the Crusades to the world. And since they concluded that Joseph was not Jesus’ father, thus, Jesus was and is not to have a last name and many believe that due to this reason that Joseph was not often mentioned in the bible. Athanasius believed that Jesus was born of the immaculate virgin Mary and of God, and therefore, was and is the only Son of God and is God. And the argument continues on depending on one’s belief as to the nature of Jesus. Overtime, Jesus was eventually called Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth to distinguish from the other people with the same name Jesus. But was Jesus birth date on December 25th? If not, then when was Jesus born exactly?

    Here are some notes from the early church fathers. Clement of Alexandria (150 – 215 CE) chose May 20 but noted that others had argued for April 18, April 19, and May 28. Hippolytus (170 – 236 CE) designated January 2. But there were others who argued and supported for November 17, November 20, and March 25. A Latin treatise written around 243 CE marked March 21, because they believed that was the date on which God created the sun. Polycarp (69 – 155 CE) reasoned similarly in that Christ's birth and baptism most likely occurred on Wednesday, because the sun was created on the fourth day, according to Genesis.

    As one can see, no one knows for certain his exact birth date since the early calendar calculated was based on the positions of the moon was full of errors, for example, 10 months per calendar year. During the Romans time, there were briberies from officers to the “time keeper” to lengthen their stay in office. It wasn’t until Julius Caesar who ordered to overhaul and made changes to the numbers of days per month and months per calendar year based on the positions of the sun. This was then refered to the Julian calendar in dedication to Julius Caesar and July was named in his rememberance. But in 525 CE, a Christian scholar, Dionysius Exiguus was asked by the pope Gregory the 1st to calculate the date for Easter. Dionysius made a major mistake when he based his calculation with the assumption that 1 AD was considered after Jesus’ birth date. This mistake was not discovered until the 9th century. It wasn’t until 1752 AD that the calendar was officially changed to the Gregorian Calendar, also known as Christian calendar for Europe and the Western world. But according to Donald Spoto and in his book “The Hidden Jesus, A New Life”, and other sources such as the bible and Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 CE), a Jewish historian, Jesus was born about 6 BC on a “cold night.” This estimated year was based on the biblical account, which indicated that Joseph took his family to Epypt for 10 years and returned when Herod the king died. But Herod death was agreed to be in 4 CE. Thus, it was logical to think that Jesus was born in 6 BC. But there a ‘small’ problem in that the year “Zero” had been omitted. If the year “zero” is to be omitted, then it would be more logical for Jesus to be born in 7 BC, instead.

    If you are a person who believes in legend, then in the early time in Ethiopia, all men and boys played the game called Ganna as a tradition on Christmas Day on January 7th, the older celebrated Christmas date. And if you believe in psychic or mediumship, it had been indicated that Jesus was born on January 8th of the year 7 BC based on the current calendar. Thus, to this date, no one really knows for sure Jesus’ true birthdate. Nevertheless, most people are very happy to celebrate it on December 25th, no work and no school for many around the world. But, why and how does Christmas fall on December 25th?

    In reality, Christmas was not celebrated nor did it exist during the first three centuries AD’s. If it was observed at all, it was lumped in with the early church feast Epiphany on January 6th. Some church leaders even opposed to the idea of a birth celebration. For example, Origen (185 – 254 CE who translated the OT from Hebrew to Greek) “preached that it was wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored by their people.” Origen opposed the birth observation because he felt that it (birthdays) were for pagan gods and practiced by the pagans. However and according to history, it was in 354 CE when the Bishop of Rome (equivalent to the present day Pope since the Pope was not established until around 400AD), Julius I, made official the December 25th as the observance day for Christmas. Many scholars and historians attributed the main reason for this change was to have the celebration coincided with the pagan rituals of the Winter Soltice or “the Return of the Sun”, and among other rituals celebrated in the same period or months of December to early January. Some early rituals were celebrated as follows.

    In many thousand of years before Christ, the Mesopotamians believed in many gods, with their chief god- Marduk. They believed that each year as the winter arrived, Marduk would do battle with the gods (some referenced monsters) of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle, the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year, or Zagmuk that lasted for 12 days. The ritual called for the king (as god’s son) to die or to return with Marduk to battle at his side. But the real king certainly didn’t want to die, and thus they used a “mock” king, or a criminal and mocked as the king and killed him at the end of the celebration instead. The criminal would certainly enjoy a glorius day before he was killed since he was to be killed anyways. The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival called the Sacaea.

    In Scandinavia, they celebrated the return of the sun with a special feast served around a fire burning with the Yule log and called their festival the Yuletide.

    The ancient Greeks held similar festival to that of the Zagmuk/Sacaea to assist their god Kronos who would battle the god Zeus and his Titans.

    The Romans celebrated their god Saturn with their festival called Saturnalia, which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. They would masquerade in the streets and celebrated with festive meals, visited friends, and exchanged good-luck gifts called Strenae, and cried “Jo Saturnalia!” The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles. As a result, many concluded the changed was to make the celebration coincide with the romans festivity, because the Christians believed that it was an abomination to honor the pagan god and wanted the Gentile converts to honor the Christian God, the Son. The early Christians wanted the Christmas celebration to be solemn and religious in nature, but to no avail. Jo Saturnalia was a lot more fun and eventually, both had compromised and the celebration continues to this day, although with slight changes and additions depending on cultures and traditions.


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