Christmas is a great holiday, established in memory of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Christmas — one of the most important Christian holidays and public holidays in more than 100 countries.
December 25 Christmas is celebrated not only Catholics, but Orthodox most of the world, Lutherans and other Protestant denominations.
The first information about the celebration of Christmas by Christians belong to the 4th century. The question of the actual birth date of Jesus Christ is debatable and controversial decisions of the ecclesiastical writers. Perhaps the choice of December 25th is associated with the arrival of this day pagan solar festival "Birthday Invincible Sun", which is after the adoption of Christianity in Rome was filled with new content.
According to one contemporary hypotheses, the choice of the date of Christmas was caused by the simultaneous celebration of the early Christians of the Incarnation (conception of Christ) and Easter. Accordingly, as a result of additions to this date (25 March) nine months, Christmas fell on the winter solstice.
Christmas Holiday has five days forefeast (with 20 to December 24), and six days of solemn assembly. On the eve or on the day of the holiday Vigil (24 December) observed particularly strict fasting, called Christmas Eve, as this day is consumed sochivo — cooked with honey wheat or barley grain. By tradition, the post Christmas Eve ends with the appearance in the sky of the first evening star. On the eve of the holiday reminded of the Old Testament prophecies and events related to Christmas Savior. Christmas services are performed three times at midnight, at dawn, and the day that symbolizes Christmas in the bosom of the Father, in the womb of the Mother of God in the soul of every Christian.
In the 13th century, during the time of St. Francis of Assisi, there was a custom display in the temples for the worship of nurseries, which put the figure of Baby Jesus. As time began to put the crib before Christmas, not only in churches but also in homes. Pets Santonian — models in glass boxes depict the grotto, and in a manger lay the baby Jesus. Next to him, Mother of God, Joseph, an angel who came to worship the shepherds, and animals — ox, a donkey. Portrayed as entire scenes from folk life: for example, next to the holy family placed the peasants in traditional dress.
church and folk customs bond harmoniously in celebrating Christmas. In Catholic countries, is well-known custom of caroling — walking from house to house children and youth with songs and good wishes. In response to receiving gifts of carols: sausage, roasted chestnuts, fruits, eggs, cakes, sweets. Mean hosts ridicule and threaten them ills. The process involves a variety of masks, costumed in the skins of animals, this action is accompanied by revelry. This custom has repeatedly condemned by church authorities as a pagan, with carols and gradually began to go only to relatives, neighbors and close friends.
About the remnants of pagan worship of the sun in the Christmas tradition of Christmas time shows the ignition of the ceremonial fire in the hearth of the home — " Christmas log. " Log solemnly observing a variety of ceremonies, introduced into the house and set fire to at the same time did pray and carving a cross on it (an attempt to reconcile the pagan rite of the Christian religion). Log sprinkled with corn, poured honey, wine and oil, put it on pieces of food, referred to him as a living being, raised in his honor glasses of wine.
During the celebration of Christmas established the custom refract "Christmas bread" — the special unleavened wafers, sanctified in churches during the Advent, — and eat it in front of a festive meal, so and during the greetings and congratulations to each other on the holiday.
characteristic element of the Nativity is a custom install in homes dressed up fir tree. This tradition originated in pagan Germanic peoples, whose rites spruce was a symbol of life and fertility. With the spread of Christianity among the peoples of Central and Northern Europe decorated with colorful balloons spruce finds a new symbolism: it began to install in the homes of 24 December, as a symbol of the tree of paradise with abundant fruit.