Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The term Christmas comes from the Old English ‘Cristes Maesse’, which means Christ’s mass. And it has been a festivity celebrated from the Middle Ages, filled with customs, music and food.
Did you know that most scholars are unsure about the true date for Christ’s birth as there is no date stated in the bible? But most countries celebrate on the 25th December.
In England, there is less emphasis placed on Christmas Eve than other countries that celebrate – much more is made of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Some families will go carol singing, attend midnight mass or go out to the pub.
However, Christmas Eve is a very exciting time for young children – as it is the time when Father Christmas visits with presents. Traditionally, children will hang up their stockings, leave some milk and cookies out for Santa and then go to sleep ready for the day ahead.
Christmas Day in the UK typically involves exchanging gifts, eating a traditional turkey with all the trimmings, watching the Queen’s Speech, games and drinking alcohol!
According to scripture, when Jesus Christ was born, three wise men brought gifts to celebrate the birth. Giving gifts to your loved ones symbolises not only the gifts given by the wise men but also the gift of baby Jesus to the world.
The simplest explanation – previously, people viewed God as the sun and thus when the winter came people thought God was weak. Trees such as evergreens were reminders of strength and that spring would soon come.
However, the tradition soon caught on when Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, set one up in Windsor Castle for the holidays. A sketch was posted in a newspaper, and a festive must-have was immediately born!
Fun fact: Scandanavians added candles to Christmas trees (pre-fairy lights) to represent hope through the winter months and the red apples (later baubles) were hung to symbolise the Garden of Eden fruit.
Geese and peacocks were previously the bird of choice for the British. However, when turkeys made their way to Europe, these soon became a popular choice. They were cheaper and easier to fatten up – making a turkey on Christmas Day, a fashionable choice.
The White Company Journal. (2018). Christmas traditions explained - The White Company Journal. [online] Available at: http://blog.thewhitecompany.com/do/christmas-traditions-explained/ [Accessed 19 Dec. 2018].