Christmas is a great holiday established to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Christmas is one of the most important Christian holidays and a public holiday in more than 100 countries around the world.
December 25 Christmas is celebrated not only by Catholics but also by Orthodox Christians from several countries of the world, Lutherans, and other Protestant denominations.
The first information about the celebration of Christmas by Christians dates back to the 4th century. The question of the real date of birth of Jesus Christ is controversial and controversial among church authors. Perhaps the choice of December 25 is associated with the pagan solar holiday "Birth of the Invincible Sun" that fell on that day, which, after the adoption of Christianity in Rome, was filled with new content.
According to one of the modern hypotheses, the choice of the date for Christmas was due to the simultaneous celebration of the Incarnation (Christ's conception) and Easter by the early Christians. Accordingly, as a result of adding nine months to this date (March 25), Christmas fell on the days of the winter solstice.
Church and folk customs are harmoniously intertwined in the celebration of Christmas. In Catholic countries, the custom of caroling is well known - children and young people go to homes with songs and good wishes. In return, the carolers receive gifts: sausage, fried chestnuts, fruits, eggs, pies, sweets. Stingy owners ridicule and threaten them with troubles. Various masks, dressed in animal skins, participate in the processions; this action is accompanied by noisy fun. This custom was repeatedly condemned by the church authorities as pagan, and gradually they began to go with carols only to relatives, neighbors, and close friends.
The tradition of lighting a ceremonial fire in the hearth - "Christmas log", testifies to the remnants of the pagan cult of the sun on Christmastide. The log was solemn, observing various ceremonies, brought into the house, set on fire, at the same time making a prayer and carving a cross on it (an attempt to reconcile the pagan rite with the Christian religion). They sprinkled the log with grain, poured honey, wine, and oil on it, put pieces of food on it, addressed it as a living being, raised glasses of wine in its honor.
On the days of the celebration of Christmas, the custom has been established to break "Christmas bread" - special unleavened wafers consecrated in churches during Advent - and eat it both before a festive meal and during greetings and congratulations to each other on the holiday.
A characteristic element of the Christmas holiday is the custom of installing a decorated spruce tree in homes. This pagan tradition originated among the Germanic peoples, in whose ritualism spruce was a symbol of life and fertility. With the spread of Christianity among the peoples of Central and Northern Europe, the spruce tree decorated with colorful balls takes on new symbolism: it began to be installed in homes on December 24, as a symbol of the tree of paradise with abundant fruits.