Did you know?
Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December every year. Christmas Day is mostly celebrated by Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, their religious leader. After Jesus’ death, the Roman Catholic Church chose the date 25th December to mark His birthday. Christmas has since grown to be a popular festival not only in Western countries. Celebrated by people around the world religiously and secularly, Christmas is a time when people gather and spend time together. For many, it is a time of joy and reunion. Popular traditions of Christmas include gift exchanging, decorating Christmas trees, Christmas carolling and enjoying a meal with family and friends.
Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, is a legendary figure who is said to bring gifts to children on the night of the Eve of Christmas or the early mornings of Christmas Day, through the chimney. In modern folklore, Santa Claus is known to have lists of children categorised by their behaviours, giving out presents to those who are ‘nice’ throughout the year. Those who are ‘naughty’ will receive coal instead. Santa delivers his presents on a sleigh, with nine reindeers pulling it, the most well-known being Rudolph the Reindeer. Hence, it is popular for children to leave milk, cookies, and some carrots beside the fireplace on the night of Christmas Eve, as a snack for Santa and his reindeers.
The Colours of Christmas
It is common to see the colours green and red during Christmas. Ever wondered why these were the colours of Christmas?
Green was associated with life even before Jesus Christ was born. During harsh winter conditions, most trees die, except for fir trees (now a common type of Christmas tree) and holly bushes. Hence, these evergreen plants were worshipped and associated further with life. While the colour green symbolises the birth of Jesus Christ, the colour red symbolises the blood that Jesus shed on the day of His death.
The Significance of Christmas Wreath and Trees
The Christmas wreath, a traditional decoration, is made using the evergreen foliage, with red berries as embellishment. The round wreath, along with the colours green and red, symbolises Jesus Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.
People used to believe that when Jesus was born, trees from all over the world grew new leaves, despite it being winter!
One legend depicts fir trees to be a symbol of love and mercy of God.
It is widely believed that medieval plays started the trend of Christmas trees. In those plays, they would use fir trees decorated with apples to symbolise the ‘Garden of Eden’. However, these plays would be banned in the 16th century, thus, the people started to set up their own fir trees in their homes to celebrate Christmas. These trees were referred to as “paradise” and they would hang round pastry wafers on it to symbolise Eucharist, also known as the Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. These wafers developed to become the cookie ornaments seen on German Christmas trees today!
This custom of putting up Christmas trees gained popularity through the 17th and 18th centuries. Together with the trees, people would often place stacks of shelves with candles on it beside their Christmas tree, one for each family member. These were eventually placed on the trees and have developed to what we now know as our Christmas lights and ornaments which decorate our Christmas tree.
The Christmas tree symbolises life and rebirth. In Roman cultures, Christmas trees were believed to ward off evil spirits. The tree is often topped with a star, which symbolises Jesus Christ, and the triumph of good over evil.