Christmas is an annual Christian festival celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus on the 25th of December, it is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural holiday, and it is preceded by the season of Advent. The English term “Christmas” (Mass on Christ’s day) is of recent origin. The earlier term used was “Yule” which referred to the feast of the winter solstice. Other corresponding terms in other languages are Navidad in Spanish, Natale in Italian, Noel in French, they all denote Nativity.
The gospel narratives of the Nativity provided no clue on the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Due to this the Nativity has been celebrated on different days over the course of time. First it was celebrated on January 6th; it was later moved to the 25th of March and finally December 25th. In the year 336 the Local Church in Roma proclaimed 25th December as the Natal day of Christ, this was done to Christianize the pagan celebration of the feast of Saturnalia celebrated in honor of Saturn, the god of prosperity. It was also done to promote prayer life and good moral behavior as against the normal practice during that celebration. By the end of the year 431 the whole Western Church accepted this new date but some Eastern Churches retained January 6th as the Nativity of Christ.
The setting up of the Christmas crib can be traced back to St. Francis of Assisi in 1223. The sing of Christmas hymns and Carols can be traced to the fourth century, Prudentius was the first to hymn the Nativity for the Vox Clara. The exchange of gifts can be traced back to the pagan practice the celebration of the feast of Saturnalia. The season of Christmas brings great joy to the world because the savior is born and sadness should have no place in our hearts. It is the day when God took for himself the nature of man in order to save him from sin, and also from eternal death. This season calls us to remember that we too share in the nature of God and as such we shouldn’t return to sin, we should also know that we have been called to God’s kingdom of light. While preparing physically for the celebration of Christ’s birth we should also prepare spiritually for his coming by preparing our hearts to receive him. We pray that the coming of Christ will heal the wound inflicted on us in the course of this year, Amen.