Christmas and Easter are the two biggest holidays in Christian calendar. For Christmas we celebrate Jesus' coming to earth to take on the human body while on Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in bodily form. Two very important events that changed the course of human history and changed the world.
A lot could be said about Christmas, it's meaning and purpose, but here we wanted to share some fun facts regarding things that mark the Christmas season.
- The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD, during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on December 25th.
- Christmas is a compound word originating in the term "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131.
- "Xmas" is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (X) in Greeek for Khrīstos (Χριστός) , which means Christ and has been used since the 1500s.
- The modern custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly 15th century, in which "devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes." Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther who, according to the TV channel History, "first added lighted candles to a tree."
- There has been a great controversy in Christian circles regarding a Christmas tree and its supposed pagan origins, yet there is no strong evidence that the above-mentioned Christmas tree tradition was influenced at all by pre-Christian era paganism of European nations.
- Since evergreens don't change much through the seasons that came to represent the unchanging or consistent character of our God.
- Just as we give Christmas gifts to each other by placing them under the tree, so it was God who gave His greatest gift to mankind by allowing His Son to be hung on a tree (Acts 5:30; 10:39).
- Christmas lights that decorate Christmas trees are said to represent Jesus "the light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5), as well Christians being the light of this world (Matthew 5:14).
- The star on the top of a Christmas tree represents the star of Bethlehem that guided the wise men to Jesus (Matthew 2:2-10).
- The traditional candy cane was born over 365 years ago when mothers used white sugar sticks as pacifiers for their babies. Around 1670 the choirmaster of Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, bent the sticks into canes to represent a shepherds staff. He then would use these white candy canes to keep the attention of small children during the long Nativity service.
- The red stripe was added to the candy cane at the turn of the century, when peppermint and wintergreen were added and became the traditional flavors for the candy cane. Some sources say that candy maker in Indiana developed the candy cane as a witness of Christ's love.
The carols mentioned here are the ones we will sing for our Christmas service.
- Joy to the World - was written by Isaac Watts based on Psalm 98 and first published in 1719. The song was originally written as a hymn glorifying Christ's triumphant return at the end of the age rather than a song celebrating His first coming.
- What Child is This - was written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 who was at the age 29 struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and was bedridden for months which lead him to deep depression. And out of this near death experience he wrote this hymn.
- Hark!The Herald Angels Sing - was written by Charles Wesley, who is know as "the prince of hymn writers" and brother of John Wesley who founded the Methodist Church.
- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear - was written by Edmund Hamilton Spears who was a clergyman. This poem appeared first in The Christian Register in 1849. Fellow Massachusetts resident Richard Willis composed the music a year later.
- O Come, All Ye Faithful - is originally written in Latin under name "Adeste Fideles". For a long time no one knew for sure who the author was. Recent research point to a English layman John Wade as the author and that it was written in 1744 and first published in 1751. English translation was first published in 1852.
Sources: www.history.com; "Repeat the Sounding Joy" by Arden W. Mead ©1988; "The Legend of the Candy Cane" by Lori Walburg, ©1997 by The Zondervan Corporation; en.wikipedia.org