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It is the time of the year when falls make way for the winter and snow. A fir tree is chopped off and decorated with rhinestones. Lights twinkle in every house on the delight of the Christmas celebration.
But that’s for the westerners. In West Africa, is harmattan and dryness. A holiday when people gather to meet their loved ones.
Generally, gifts are shared, and children receive gifts from people. The higher class would pay their homage to the less privileged.
Christmas is celebrated traditionally and religiously by the people. To some people, it is the time of the year when they celebrate the winter solstice.
People had their opinion about Christmas and chose to celebrate it in whatever they wish to. That is when the big question comes in; what is the meaning of Christmas?
Before we go down that lane, you have to know the history of Christmas.
History of Christmas
Before the introduction of the Christmas celebration, some countries had their festive celebration at that time.
The Europeans celebrated the winter solstice time when the darkest winter is behind them, and they look forward to long hours of sunlight.
In Scandinavia, Yule was celebrated from December 21st through January for the return of sunlight. In most families, the father and sons fetch woods they would burn out as many as 12 days.
Within the period of the Bonfire, there will be a feast. The end of December was a perfect time for celebrations as the Europeans kill cows, as they won’t during the winter.
Saturnalia is a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans celebrate it around the winter solstice. They also observed Juvenalia which was a feast honoring the children of Rome.
While people who found themselves in the upper class always celebrated the birthday of Mithra. Mithra, as was believed, is the god of unconquerable sun born of the rock. It was celebrated on December 25th, the same as the Christmas date.
However, in the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday. Nobody celebrated the birth of Jesus, only his death.
It was in the fourth century that church officials decided to fix a date for the birth of Jesus. But unfortunately, it wasn’t recorded in the bible the birthday of Jesus.
Some believed that it could probably be in spring. If not, why would shepherds herd their sheep in winter?
Nonetheless, the birth of Jesus was fixed on 25th December by pope Julius, the same date as the god, Mithra. It was commonly believed that the date was used to absorb the fetish celebration by the pagans.
Origin of the word Christmas
The word Christmas is derived from Middle English Cristemasse. Cristemasse had in turn derived from old English cristes-masse that means Christ-mass.
However, the word mass in the Christian context has not been explained yet. Of course, it doesn’t mean the physical mass of Jesus.
Mass is as well known came from the Latin word, missa. But different people have their various definitions of missa. Some people claimed it is a form of Latin verb, mittere that probably means “something that has been sent”.
But it doesn’t fit the gender of Christ as the word missa is grammatically feminine. Other people claimed that it could be ‘missio’, a Latin word that means dismissal.
While others with entirely different opinions believed it could be from a Hebrew word, ‘missah’ that means unleavened bread.
Christmas day and Paganism
Christmas day is often seen as a day of joy, but there are some who disagree. These people believe that Christmas should be avoided because it is a pagan holiday and has no place in Christianity.
They are of the school of thought that Christ should be celebrated every day in the heart of believers and not a paganist day.
The church has long celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th as the birthday of our savior. The early church was a bit more flexible though and recognized that new converts should celebrate Christ’s birth anytime they felt inspired to do so. A few hundred years ago, Christmas began to be celebrated annually in the Western world.
It was first celebrated in the Christian Roman Empire, but it spread to modern-day Italy and Germany.
Till this moment, Christians across the globe celebrate Christmas in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th of every year.
When Should we then Celebrate the birth of Jesus?
However, there are some denominational and Christian groups across the globe that feel it’s improper and uncalled for the celebrate Christ’s birth on the day of a deity since Christ’s true birthday is unknown and can’t be confirmed in the scriptures.
The early church was a bit more flexible though and recognized that new converts should celebrate Christ’s birth anytime they felt inspired to do so. They maintained that all believers should live for, and Celebrate Jesus day after day.
The Christian meaning of Christmas
Christmas was introduced by the Christians in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ. Every event that speculated/surrounded the birth of Jesus was a miraculous deed.
According to Luke 1:26-38, Mary was a virgin who was engaged to Joseph, a descendant of King David. The Angel of the Lord, Angel Gabriel, visited her to announce the birth of Jesus through her. And she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
How can a virgin be pregnant? People must have asked. But this is to show the uniqueness and superiority that surrounds the birth of Jesus.
Unlike other people born out of sin, Jesus was conceived by a virgin mother who still did not have any sexual intercourse with Joseph, her prospective husband, till she gave birth to Jesus.
In the modern world, we may call that act surrogacy while Mary was a surrogate mother whose womb grew the baby, Jesus.
To show that Jesus is a supernatural being, Mary visited her sister Elizabeth who was also pregnant. And the baby in Elizabeth’s womb moved within her.
Elizabeth filled with Holy Spirit said to Mary,
“Blessed are you amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me?For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. How happy you are to believe the Lord’s message to you will come through” (Luke 1:39-45).
For the world to know that Jesus was coming for a mission, prophecies were made known. And the people were waiting anxiously for him.
On his arrival, the angels visited shepherds and told them the good news (Luke 2:8-18), and they ran to Bethlehem to see for themselves. A bright star guided men from the east to Jerusalem to visit the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).
The birth of Jesus had superseded all the forms of birth around the world and was worth celebrating. Jesus didn’t come from the home of kings but from a humble home to fulfill his duties on earth.
And that is what Christmas is all about. The celebration of the birth of the son of God born with no sin in a humble home.
What is the true meaning of Christmas?
In the beginning, Christmas was just a pagan festival, celebrated as a solstice celebration. It was a time of feasting and gifts with friends and family.
However, Christians soon began to take over and make it more about Jesus. To some modern-day Gospellers, Today’s Christmas celebration is a combination of the two traditions, combining Christian beliefs with pagan celebrations.
Jesus was born in a humble manger and his true message of Christmas is the love of God through him. We are here to help you spread that message to your audience with our engaging videos and unmatched social media outreach.
The true message of Christmas is one of peace and forgiveness. As a result, millions of people around the world celebrate this time every year through the act of giving.
Bible Verses about the Birth of Jesus Christ
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about : His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-25
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 1:17
…But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.- Luke 1:30-33
Even though there is no date for the birth of Jesus recorded in the Bible, Christians had found it worthy to be celebrated following the activities that happened within that period.
Christmas holiday had, and bring happiness within people as it is a time when people rest of their long year work. A time when families have the chance to come together to celebrate.
A time when children have their best moment, as gifts are shared. A time when people in the upper class get to share the love with the lower class. Christmas is worthy of celebration. Celebrate it as a Christian.