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Today, the festival of Christmas is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm in almost a hundred countries of the world. In many countries, this day is declared a state holiday and all Christians organize celebrations with great fun and variety of dishes.
It has taken a long time for this festival to reach this destination and it has had to face many obstacles. Since last one and a half century, the festival of Christmas has started being organized smoothly in its present form.
Generally, December 25 is considered to be the birthday of Jesus Christ and Christmas is celebrated in the same form, but initially even the religious authorities themselves were not ready to recognize this day in this form. It was actually a festival day of the Roman race, in which the Sun God was worshipped. It was believed that the Sun was born on this day.
In those days, sun worship was the official religion of the Roman emperors. Later, when Christianity was propagated, some people considered Jesus to be the incarnation of Sun and started worshiping him on this day, but it was not recognized in those days. In the beginning, there was no public celebration of any such festival among Christians.
The method of worship began to be discussed in the fourth century and was developed on the basis of ancient written material. The first celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ was held in a church in Rome around 360 AD, in which the Pope himself also participated, but even after this there were differences of opinion about the date of the celebration.
Jewish shepherds had a tradition of celebrating an 8-day spring festival since ancient times. After the spread of Christianity, in this festival the shepherds started sacrificing the first child of their animals in the name of Jesus and started organizing feasts in his name, but this celebration was limited only to the shepherds.
Some other ceremonies were also organized in those days, whose period was between 30 November to 2 February. Like the Yule festival of the Norsemen race and the Saturnalia festival of the Romans, in which the servants had complete freedom to behave like their masters. These festivals had no connection with Christianity at that time.
In the third century, serious consideration was given to celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ, but most of the religious leaders at that time refused to participate in that discussion. Nevertheless, there was a discussion among the Christian followers and it was decided that a day in the spring season should be fixed for this ceremony.
Accordingly, first 28th March and then 19th April were fixed for this. Later this was also changed to 20 May. In this context, proposals were also made for the dates of 8th and 18th November.
After long debate and discussion, in the fourth century the Roman Church and the government jointly declared December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Despite this it took a long time to come into use. Before this, the festivals celebrated by other castes got mixed with them and even later, some of their parts got permanently added to the festival of Christmas. In Jerusalem, the birthplace of Jesus, this date was accepted in the middle of the fifth century.
Even after this, the journey on Christmas Day was not smooth. Protests and contradictions continued. When the Protestant movement started in the 13th century, this festival was again looked at critically and it was realized that there was still a lot of influence of the old Pagan religion on it. Therefore, the singing of devotional songs like Christmas carols was banned and on 25 December 1644, a new law was made in England, under which 25 December was declared a fasting day.
This anti-Christmas movement spread to other countries also. It had an impact in America also. In Boston, the Christmas festival was banned in 1690. Christmas received legal recognition in America in 1836 and December 25 was declared a public holiday. This gave strength to this festival in other countries of the world also.
In different parts of Europe, there was an ancient tradition of decorating trees on various joyous occasions. In Germany, a festival was celebrated on 24 December and a mystical play was also played on the same day – ‘The Tree of Eden’. It is possible that these traditions may have given rise to the idea of the Christmas tree.
Later many legends were also associated with this ideology. In 1821, the Queen of England had a ‘Christmas tree’ built and enjoyed the celebrations with children. It was he who gave birth to the tradition of placing a deity’s idol in this tree. The first Christmas card for greetings was prepared in London in 1844 and after that the practice of giving Christmas cards spread throughout the world by 1870.
As far as Santa Claus is concerned, its tradition became associated with Christmas much later. In the Middle Ages, the birthday of Saint Nicholas (born 340 AD) was celebrated on 6 December and it was believed that on this night Saint Nicholas brings various gifts to children. This Saint Nicholas became ‘Santa Claus’ for American children and from there this name became popular all over the world.
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