Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ, is one of the most popular festivals celebrated around the world. It creates a feeling of warmth and happiness among people even in the freezing, dark winter. Since it is a popular festival celebrated worldwide, it is quite obvious that it has many traditions associated with it. Some of the most popular Christmas traditions that people follow include Midnight Masses, Christmas tree decorations and Christmas feasts. Children follow these traditions with immense zeal, and hang their stockings in a specific place expecting a present from Santa Claus and hoping that he might fill their stockings with toys and chocolates. These traditions differ from country to country, thus symbolizing the different views and feelings associated with this joyous festival. Non-Christians also celebrate Christmas nowadays and this has further added to the growing traditions associated with this festival. Scroll down to find out more about the different traditions associated with Christmas.
Popular Customs Associated With Christmas
Night-time Mass/ Midnight Mass
The Night-time mass, or the Midnight Mass, is conducted concurring with the belief that Jesus was born at the stroke of midnight. Although it is quite difficult to trace the origin of the Midnight Mass, this tradition is celebrated with ceremonial splendor. People sing happy Christmas songs accompanied with tolling bells and sparkling lights everywhere.
Lush green Christmas trees, decorated beautifully with Christmas symbols like stars, colored egg shells, stockings, Santa, LED serial lights etc., are heralds of Christmas. Though the exact origin of this tradition is not traceable, during olden days, these trees were believed to ensure good crop for the coming year. Though it has detached from its original connotation, the tradition continues even to this day. A fun filled, joyous Christmas is incomplete, rather unimaginable, without a decorated Christmas tree.
Candy canes are confectionaries in the shape of English alphabet 'J', indicating the first letter of the name 'Jesus Christ'. The white color in the candy cane indicates purity, while the red stripes indicate the blood that was shed by Christ on the cross. Legend has it that it was first made by a candy maker from Indiana in the 17th century. This confectionary is not only distributed among kids but also among adults, thus signifying an age-old tradition of Christmas.
Exchanging gifts and sending Christmas cards to loved ones is one of the most popular Christmas customs followed worldwide. This tradition of exchanging gifts has taught mankind to care about dear ones and to replace hatred against others with positive emotions like love and affection. Exchanging Christmas cards is another way of bringing family and friends close to each other. This tradition, beyond doubt, adds to the enthusiasm associated with Christmas.
St. Nicholas, popularly known as Santa Claus or just Santa, is a famous gift-bringing figure associated with Christmas. It is believed that Santa brings gifts to only those children who have been good during that year. Children hang their stockings near a chimney hoping that Santa would load those stockings with gifts. Santa Claus is one of the most significant personalities to represent Christmas. In some places, Santa is said to visit houses along with a small group that comes singing popular carols.
Holly, Ivy And Their Significance
Holly and Ivy are two different kinds of plants that signify the good and evil in the world. The leaf of Holly was known as the "crown of thorns" in ancient times and its red berries were associated with Jesus Christ's blood. Ivy, on the other hand, symbolizes strength, promise and hope. Holly and Ivy are believed to fend off all kinds of negative energies and bring happiness.
It is said that hanging a sprig of mistletoe in the house represents a brightened life and freedom. People usually keep it in their houses all the year round as it is said to protect the house from lightning or fire. Kissing under mistletoe is said to represent peace as the ancient European warriors used to hoist a white flag under the mistletoe to indicate their surrender or peacemaking intentions.
Christmas celebrations and traditions cannot be concluded without the quintessential Christmas feast. The most common foods cooked during Christmas include hams, roasted beef and Yorkshire pudding. A variety of sweet pastries, eggnog sprinkled with spices etc. are some other delicacies preferred for Christmas feast, around the world. Apart from the above mentioned, there is the most famous Christmas cake (a fruit cake) which is served as dessert along with plum pudding and mince pies. Though there are some classic recipes, there are regional differences in the dishes prepared for Christmas feast.
Nativity Scenes, or creche, is a tradition depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Popular characters of nativity scenes include infant Jesus, Mother Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, shepherds, angels etc. Nativity Scenes are sometimes staged during Christmas with children enacting the events of Nativity. There are some regional additions also to the nativity scenes; for instance, Caganer.
Christmas is a cheerful festival that builds on the traditions, and beliefs, associated with it and also brings people closer to one another. Quite obviously considered one of the major festivals worldwide, Christmas is one of the major happy, fun filled, winter festivals celebrated around the world.
Christmas is celebrated by millions of people around the world, in numerous ways, on 25th of December every year. Read through the article below to find out more on Christmas traditions.