The Christmas Story
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. … 20 An angel of the Lord appeared to him [Joseph] 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. 21 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." (Matthew 1, NIV)
Boucher's Nativity Scene
The Birth of Jesus
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2, NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (Luke 2, NIV)
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." … 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (Matthew 2, NIV)
History and Origin of Christmas
Rembrandt's Nativity Scene
The word Christmas is a combination of two words, Christ and mass.
Why December 25?
There is no definite answer as to why December 25 was chosen as Christmas Day. It is mostly believed that it was chosen by a Christianized Roman emperor to replace a Roman pagan holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, celebrating the birthday of the sun god. December 24 is known as winter solstice, the last of the shortest days of the year. Therefore December 25 is when we start having longer days and shorter nights, the day the Romans celebrated as the birth of the sun god.
Another less popular theory of why December 25 is celebrated as Christ’s birth is that it is nine months after March 25, the day it is believed that the Virgin Mary was conceived with Jesus.
Ho, Ho, Ho: The Origin and History of Santa Clause
The real Santa Claus was St. Nicholas, a Christian monk from Turkey who lived during the 3rd century. Though very little facts are known about St. Nicholas, there are many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his wealth and spent his life helping the needy. He died December 6—the date traditionally set to celebrate St. Nicholas. There are records of Americans celebrating St. Nicholas’s Day back in the late 1700s.
The name Santa Claus came from the Dutch name for St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaas (Klaas is the short form of Nikolaas).
St. Nicholas to Santa Claus
Thanks to an Episcopal minister’s poem to his daughters in 1822, the modern Santa Claus evolved. Clement Clarke Moore wrote a fun poem to his daughters, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore made popular the idea of Santa Claus having the supernatural ability to fly in his sleigh around the world delivering toys to children through the chimney on Christmas Eve, after the children had gone to sleep.
Santa Claus image was first illustrated in 1881 by cartoonist Thomas Nast when Nast illustrated Moore’s poem to be published in Harper’s Weekly. Thanks to Nast, Santa has a white beard, wears red clothing, has a North Pole workshop, and has elves companions and a wife Mrs. Claus. (History.com)
"O Christmas Tree"
From Pagan Origin
The evergreen trees were for thousands of years believed by pagan nations to keep away evil spirits and diseases.
To Christian Tradition
It was not until the 1700s that Germany united the evergreen tree with the Christian Christmas celebration. Though many Christians around the world, including the US, refused to bring to Christmas a pagan tradition. Early Puritan settlers in America were fined if there were to be any Christmas decorations displayed.
Thanks to Queen Victoria and her German husband Prince Albert the Christmas tree became more widely accepted by non-German Christians. In 1846, Queen Victoria asked her husband to keep his German tradition and decorate a Christmas tree in their home.
Real or Fake?
In 2004, 23.4 million American homes displayed real Christmas trees (USA Today).
On average 70% to 75% of American households display fake Christmas trees.
Origin of Christmas Tree Lights
Some sources has it that Martin Luther should be accredited to be the first to use Christmas tree lights. In 17th century Germany, Luther used candles to have lights on the tree to represent the stars in the sky.
The first Christmas card sent was in 1843. An Englishman named Henry Cole hired an artist to draw a picture of a family sitting around a dinner table. On the card, he wrote, “A merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”
Four billion Christmas cards are sent every year.
The single busiest shopping hour for the holidays is December 24 between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.
"Twelve Days of Christmas"
The cost of all items in the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” in 2008 is $86,609. The amount includes repetitions of items. In 2007, the cost was $78,100. The calculation was made by PNC Wealth Management.
Gift Card: Good for Your Business
In 2007, $8 billion dollars worth of gift cards were not redeemed (that’s 27% of the amount bought on gift cards in 2007) (Consumer Reports).
Each American child receives about 70 toys a year (mostly during Christmas) (Money Magazine).