The Feast of Christmas
It is not easy to pin-point the origins of the Christmas feast, today the more important feast of the Christmas season in most western Christian churches. One can only say for certain that the birth of Jesus Christ was being celebrated in Rome by the year 336 A.D.; afterwards the feast was celebrated in other Christian churches throughout the world.
Why it was celebrated on December 25th is another question. No date for the birth of Jesus can be found in the New Testament, which is concerned more with the question "Who is Jesus?" than the date of his birth. Early Christian speculation about his birth date was influenced by the symbolism of the changing seasons, then popular in religious thought, which paid careful attention to the equinoxes and solstices of the sun. Christian scholars speculated that Jesus was conceived at the spring equinox (March 25th) and therefore was born on December 25th, the date of the winter solstice.
In many of the Christian churches, March 25th is still the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus.
Possible impluse for the feast of Christmas may have came too from the establishment of the pagan feast of the "Unconquered Sun-God" by the Emperor Aurelian in 274 A.D. to be celebrated on December 25, the day of the winter solstice in Rome and throughout the empire. In response, Christians could celebrate the feast of the "Sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4,2), Jesus Christ, who called himself " the light of the world."
It is said that in the year of 300 AD, there was a kind old man and his name was Saint Nicholas. He was always ready to help the poor and often gave presents to them.
Today, Father Christmas is an imaginary figure, but nearly all young children believe in him. They think he is a happy old man with a long white beard and a long red robe.
On the night of the twenty-fourth of December every year, Father Christmas from some cold northern land comes down the chimney of the fireplace to put presents by the beds of children or to fill their stockings. So when children go to bed that night, they hang up their stockings, and on Christmas morning they wake to find them full of presents. Of course, it's really their parents who fill the stockings.
Another name for Father Christmas is Santa Claus.
For today's Christian, the origin of Christmas is, and should be, the birth of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible. Nothing more and nothing less. However, most of what we witness on December 25th each year has absolutely nothing to do with that blessed day, which probably occurred in late summer or early fall about 2,000 years ago. In fact, most of the customs and traditions of Christmas actually pre-date the birth of Jesus, and many of them are downright deceptive in their meaning and origin. Anyway, who cares when Christ was born?
Christmas Day,the 25th of December,is the biggest festival(节日)celebrated in the Christian countries of the world.Although everyone enjoys Christmas Day,it is particularly enjoyed by children,who get very excited because of the presents they know they are going to receive.Small children believe that their presents are brought by Father Christmas(圣诞老人).Father Christmas is a kind of old man who,the children are told,lives at the North Pole.He travels through the sky on a sleigh(雪撬) which is pulled by reindeers(驯鹿) and loaded with(装满) presents.Stopping on the roof of houses,he enters by climbing the chimney(烟囱).When small children go to bed on Christmas Eve,they hang a stocking at the end of their beds.Their parents warn them not to try to look at Father Christmas,or he will not leave them anything.When they wake,they find their stockings filled with presents.Children are very excited on Christmas morning and always wake up early.
Christmas is also a family celebration.As any members of the family as possible gather to eat,play party games and watch the special Christmas programmes on TV.