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BY, T.RESHMA MBA AMITY BSCHOOL OUR IMAGINATION FOR CHRISTMAS
Each year we deck out our homes,Schools,Colleges in evergreen and lights. A Christmas tree is often displayed with beautiful ornaments. Gifts are exchanged and carols are sung, but do we really know the true origin of Christmas? Most people don't think about it, and among those who do, even fewer actually know the answer to the question. I used to be one of those who thought I knew, that is, until I did a little deeper study on it. Like many people today, I once subscribed to the notion that Christmas was originally a Pagan celebration in pre-Christian Europe. I was under the impression that Christianity commandeered the celebration and used it to redirect European focus away from Pagan beliefs, and toward the Christian gospel. I couldn't have been more mistaken.
Today, a small but growing number of Evangelical Christians object to the celebration of Christmas. This is because of Christmas' alleged Pagan roots. They'll have nothing to do with Paganism, and so Christmas is out! I wish them the best of luck in this endeavor, because they're gonna need it. Around the world, the Christmas celebration is the most beloved holiday time of the year. Christmasbanning Evangelicals are going to have an uphill fight with their families and children around the holidays. It's easy to say you're gonna ban
Christmas in your home, but it's quite another thing when it comes to actually doing it. Sadly, this notion is misplaced, and it's one based on ignorance of the facts.
What is the true meaning of Christmas?
The true meaning of Christmas is love. John 3:16-17 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love. The real Christmas story is the story of God's becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. Why did God do such a thing? Because He loves us! Why was Christmas necessary? Because we needed a Savior! Why does God love us so much? Because He is love itself (1 4:8). Why do we celebrate Christmas each year? Out of gratitude for what God did for us, we remember His birth by giving each other gifts, worshipping Him, and being especially conscious of the poor and less fortunate.
ORIGIN OF THE WORD CHRISTMAS
The word Christmas comes from the words Cristes maesse, or "Christ's Mass." Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus for members of the Christian religion. Most historians peg the first celebration of Christmas to Rome in 336 A.D. In 325AD, Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, introduced Christmas as an immovable feast on 25 December. He also introduced Sunday as a holy day in a new 7-day week, and introduced movable feasts (Easter). In 354AD, Bishop Liberius of Rome officially ordered his members to celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December. However, even though Constantine officiated 25 December as the birthday of Christ, Christians, recognizing the date as a pagan festival, did not share in the emperor's good meaning. Christmas failed to gain universal recognition among Christians until quite recently. In certain Protestant areas the celebration of Christmas was even banned. In England, Oliver Cromwell banned
Christmas festivities between 1649 and 1660 through the so-called Blue Laws, believing that Christmas should be a solemn day. When many Protestants escaped persecution from the Catholic Church by fleeing to the colonies all over the world, interest in joyous Christmas celebrations was rekindled. Still, Christmas was not even a legal holiday until last century. And, keep in mind, there was no Father Christmas (Santa Claus) figure at that time. The popularity of Christmas was spurred on in 1820 by Washington Irving's book The Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall. In 1834, Britain's Queen Victoria brought her German husband, Prince Albert, into Windsor Castle, introducing the tradition of the Christmas tree and carols that were held in Europe to the British Empire. A week before Christmas in 1834, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol (in which he wrote that Scrooge required Cratchit to work, and that the US Congress met on Christmas Day). It was so popular that neither the churches nor the governments could not ignore the importance of Christmas celebrations. In 1836, Alabama became the first state in the US to declare Christmas a legal holiday. In 1837, T.H. Hervey's The Book of Christmas also became a best seller. In 1860, American illustrator Thomas Nast borrowed from the European stories about Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, to create Father Christmas (Santa Claus). In 1907, Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday. Year
by year, countries all over the world started to recognize Christmas as the day for celebrating the birth of Jesus. According to Daniel Boorstin in his book The Americans, Christmas was largely a non-event in America until the 1860s. 1867 was the first year that Macy's department store in New York City remained open until midnight on Christmas Eve. 1874 was the year of the first window displays with a Christmas theme at Macy's. It has snowballed from there. The custom of sending Christmas cards started in Britain in 1840 when the first 'Penny Post' public postal deliveries began. (Helped by the new railway system, the public postal service was the 19th century's communication revolution, just as email is for us today.) As printing methods improved, Christmas cards were produced in large numbers from about 1860. They became even more popular in Britain when a card could be posted in an unsealed envelope for one half-penny - half the price of an ordinary letter.
Birth of Jesus
In the western world the birthday of Jesus Christ has been celebrated on December 25th since AD 354, partly to replace the pagan worship that was commonplace in those days. However, we can be fairly sure that Jesus wasn't actually born on that date. (See also The History of Christmas) The Bible tells us that shepherds were staying out
in the fields overnight when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8), but in that part of the world it would have been far too cold at night to do so in December. What is more likely is that He was born in the Spring, perhaps between March and May. Whatever the time of year, it is virtually impossible to identify the actual date. This situation is further complicated by the fact that the Christian scholar Dionysius Exiguus was asked by the Pope in AD 525 to calculate new cycles for fixing the date of Easter. However, he decided to base his calculations on the date of Jesus's birth. Unfortunately, it wasn't discovered until the 9th century that he got it badly wrong, by which time it was too late to change the calendar. He fixed the birth in the year 1 BC or AD 1 (Historians apparently can't agree which.) and began counting from the latter. But both earlier and later scholars agreed that Jesus was born at an earlier date. Indeed, it was eventually established that Herod the Great died in Spring of 4 BC. If Jesus had been born at the start of AD 1, as we currently have it, then Jesus would have been born some 4 or 5 years after Herod died. There is no way of accurately establishing the actual date of his birth, but it is most likely to have been between 5 and 6 BC. The important thing is that he was born, and his nominal birthrate of December 25th seems as good as any to celebrate his birth and his message. It also a wonderful catalyst for enjoying the precious
and simple pleasures of being, if only for a brief time, close together in the warm familiarity of friends and family, renewing relationships and sharing memories.
From November onwards, it is impossible to forget that Christmas is coming. Colored lights decorate many town centers and shops, along with shiny decorations, and artificial snow painted on shop windows. In streets and shops, 'Christmas trees' (real or plastic evergreen 'conifer' trees) will also be decorated with lights and Christmas ornaments. Shopping centers become busier as December approaches and often stay open till late. Shopping center speaker systems systems will play Christmas 'carols' - the traditional Christmas Christian songs, and groups of people will often sing carols on the streets to raise money for charity. Most places of work will hold a short Christmas party about a week before Christmas. Although traditional Christmas foods may be eaten, drink (and plenty of it) means that little work will be done after the party! By mid-December, most homes will also be decorated with Christmas trees, colored lights and paper or plastic decorations around the rooms. These days, many more people also decorate garden trees or house walls with colored electric lights, a habit which has long been popular in USA.
In many countries, most people post Christmas greeting cards to their friends and family, and these cards will be hung on the walls of their homes. In UK this year, the British Post Office expects to handle over 100 million cards EACH DAY, in the three weeks before Christmas. Traditionally, Christmas cards showed religious pictures - Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, or other parts of the Christmas story. Today, pictures are often jokes, winter pictures, Father Christmas, or romantic scenes of life in past times.
Who is Santa Claus?
Children are taught that he is the person who performs miracles and wonders every Christmas Eve. He is able to create and deliver virtually any present any child can imagine. He can fly through the sky and deliver these gifts to billions of children all over the world - all during one night. And not just any old presents but exactly the
ones desired by each individual child. But Santa Claus is not just omnipresent, he is also all-seeing and all-knowing. He has the divine power of omniscience, and this not only on Christmas Eve but all through the year. He sees you when you're sleepin' He knows when you're awake, He knows if you're been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake ... People imagine similar powers for their god: You see me, whether I am working or resting; In addition, children are taught that Santa Claus is all-good and all-just; He rewards the good children and leaves the bad ones empty handed. Perfect goodness and justice are also attributes of deity. In other words, Santa is really a god who performs miracles by his own powers. To be sure, he is a kind of childish god. He is concerned only about children, and he brings childish presents. But that's the only sort of god who could have any meaning for the young child. Adults think of their deity as the creator of all things visible and invisible, but such an entity is beyond a child's comprehension. What children can relate to is a creator of toys and goodies. While grownups characterize their god as all-holy, all merciful, alljust, all-powerful, omnipresent and infinitely
perfect, this conception is too vast, nebulous and remote to have any meaning for a little child. Children from 2 to 8 - the Santa Claus years cannot grasp such a transcendent abstraction; they can only relate to a material being. Santa is such a god-in-the-flesh - a deity tailor-made for children. Santa has not always appeared the way we think of him today. The first well-known gift-giver was a true person--St. Nicholas. He lived in Myra (today we know it as Turkey) in about 300A.D. Born an only child of a wealthy family, he was orphaned at an early age when both parents died of the plague. He grew up in a monastery and at the age of 17 became one of the youngest priests ever. Many stories are told of his generosity as he gave his wealth away in the form of gifts to those in need, especially children. Legends tell of him either dropping bags of gold down chimneys or throwing the bags through the windows where they landed in the stockings hung from the fireplace to dry. Some years later Nicholas became a bishop--hence the bishop's hat or miter, long flowing gown, white beard and red cape. After his death he was elevated to sainthood. Eventually the Catholic Church started celebrating Christmas and St. Nicholas was incorporated into the season. Finally, from 1931 to 1964, Haddon Sundblom created a new Santa each Christmas for Coca-Cola advertisements that appeared world-wide on the back covers of Post and National Geographic
magazines. This is the Santa we know and love today with a red suit trimmed with white fur, leather boots and belt, long white beard and a pack of toys slung onto his back.
THE ERRONEOUS BELIEF ON SANTA CLAUS
Although Santa Claus is a mythical figure, his creation is based in part on a great Christian man named Saint Nicholas of Myra, who lived in the 4th century. Nicholas was born to Christian parents who left him an inheritance when they died, which he distributed to the poor. He became a priest at a young age and was well-known for his compassion and generosity. He had a reputation for giving gifts anonymously, and he would throw bags of money into people's homes (and sometimes down their chimneys) under the cover of night to avoid being spotted. Nicholas passed away on December 6 sometime around the 340s or 350s AD, and the day of his death became an annual feast in which children would put out food for Nicholas and straw for his donkey. It was said that the saint would come down from heaven during the night and replace the offerings with toys and treats—but only for the good boys and girls. There are many different versions of the legend of Saint Nicholas, but all are the inspiration for the jolly, red-suited gift-giver that we now know as Santa Claus. Many Christian parents are torn as to whether or not they should play the "Santa game" with their children. On one
hand, he makes Christmas fun and magical, leaving wonderful holiday memories for years to come. On the other hand, the focus of Christmas should be on Jesus Christ and how much He has already given us. So, is the story of Santa Claus an innocent addition to Christmas festivities, or is he a subject that should be avoided? Parents need to use their own judgment in deciding whether or not to include Santa during the holidays, but here are some things to consider: Children who believe that the gifts they receive Christmas morning are from a magical man with unending resources are less likely to appreciate what they have been given, and the sacrifices their parents make in providing them. Greed and materialism can overshadow the holiday season, which is meant to be about giving, loving, and worshiping God. Children whose parents are on a tight budget may feel that they have been overlooked by Santa, or even worse, deemed one of the "bad" boys or girls. An even more troubling aspect of telling our children that Santa comes down the chimney each year to leave their gifts is that it is, obviously, a lie. We live in a society that believes that lying for the "right" reason is acceptable. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, it is not a problem. This is contrary to what the Bible tells us. "For the Scriptures say, 'If you want to live a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies'" (1 Peter 3:10, NLT). Of course, telling our children that Santa is real is not a malicious deception, but it is, nevertheless, a lie. Although it is probably not typical, some children honestly feel deceived and betrayed by their parents when they
find out that Santa is not real. Children trust their parents to tell them the truth, and it is our responsibility not to break this trust. If we do, they will not believe more important things we tell them, such as the truth about Christ, whom they also cannot physically see. This doesn’t mean we must leave Santa completely out of Christmas. Children can still play the "Santa game" even if they know it is all pretend. They can make lists, sit on his lap at the mall, and leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. This will not rob them of their joy of the season, and gives parents the opportunity to tell their children about the godly qualities of the real Saint Nicholas, who dedicated his life to serving others and made himself into a living example of Jesus Christ.
Positive Aspects of Santa Claus
Santa, as taught to most children, has most of the attributes of God: He is virtually omnipresent. He can visit hundreds of millions of homes in one night. He is omniscient. He monitors each child; he is allseeing and all-knowing; he knows when they are bad and good. Although not omnipotent, he does have great powers. He can manufacture gifts for hundreds of millions of children, and deliver them in one night -- each to the correct child. He is all-good and all-just. He judges which children have shown good behavior and rewards
them appropriately. Bad children are bypassed or receive a lump of coal. He is eternal. He rewards good and punishes bad behavior. As every coin has two sides or Every Rose has a thorn…So, Santa claus too has some negative outcomes.
Negative Aspects Or Problems faced because of Santa Claus
His behavior damages a child's self-esteem In practice, children are not rewarded with gifts according to their behavior; they receive presents according to the amount of money that their parents are willing or able to spend on them at Christmas time. A child may receive little or nothing from Santa because his/her parents are poor. Unfortunately, the child has probably adsorbed from the media and their friends only bad children get nothing from Santa. He/she might begin to look upon themselves as a bad person. This may well damage their self esteem. Most children in Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah's Witnesses or some other faith traditions do not receive gifts from Santa. But when they go to school, they see that their Christian contemporaries have been given presents. They
might feel that they are less worthy than their friends, or that their religion is inferior to Christianity. To protect from this kind of mental development, most of the Non-Christian Parents should think some alternatives. Telling children that Santa comes down the chimney each year to leave their gifts is that it is, obviously, a lie. Some children honestly feel deceived and betrayed by their parents when they find out that Santa is not real.
What should children be taught about Santa Claus?
A "Santa Truth Poll" on familyeducation.com shows that, in the estimation of adults, most children stop believing in Santa Claus between the ages of 8 and 10. 12
Belief in Santa Claus is dangerous:
The Rev. John Eich suggests that teaching a child about Santa can backfire. "When a parent says 'Yes, there really is a Santa Claus and his reindeer can fly,' he is no longer playing a game. The parent is lending his personal authority as a parent to the myth, giving it the ring of truth." When the child
later finds out that there is no Santa Claus, then she/he might also doubt other parental teachings.
A lesson for today
Parents should be aware that fostering a belief in the Santa Claus of today may backfire later. A child looks to parents to furnish everything--food, comfort, courage, and truth. When a parent says, “Yes, there really is a Santa Claus, and his reindeer can really fly,” he is no longer playing a game. That parent is lending his personal authority as a parent to the myth, giving it the ring of truth. What happens later to a parent’s credibility when the child finds out that the story isn’t true? Maybe the other things a parent has said about safety, moral values, right or wrong aren’t true either. If you once believed in a man who knew what you were doing, who had amazing abilities, and who gave you nice things, and he turned out to be a fake, why should you believe in another man who knows what you are doing, has amazing abilities, gives you nice things--Jesus Christ? If you get burned once, why get burned the second time? Wouldn’t it be better to be honest with our children right from the start, and teach them the difference between truth and make-believe? Some people love Santa Claus so much that they forget about Jesus. Some churches burn the
present day Santa Claus in effigy. Both extremes are too much. It’s better to remember the real Nicholas, who can serve as an example of how to really keep Christmas. Don’t think “Look what the world is coming to.” Rather think “Look who’s coming into the world!” A little girl was once asked, “What is a saint?” Thinking of the heroes of faith who are pictured in stained glass windows she answered, “A saint is someone who lets the light in.” That’s how we best perhaps can use the myths about Santa Claus. Let’s use them to let the “light in,” Jesus Christ the light of the world. Let’s keep Santa Claus always kneeling at the manger of his Savior and ours.
It is fair to play Santa Game but at the e nd of the day they should really know, the story of Santa Claus. Parents should use this time perfectly to explain the good deeds of God and cultivate them with positive attitude,helping nature citind the example of Jesus and Santa claus. Mould the behavior of their children as they need by giving good gifts.
Disclose the real meaning of Santa Claus by giving effective advertisements,directing good movies,etc… But at the same time,we should never forget that Santa Claus is just fallacy.
Christians can get in touch with the spiritual roots of the Christmas celebration simply by extending their own observances of Christmas out to the full eight days from December 25th through January 1st. Rather than trying to cram it all into one day, (as the commercialized celebration has taught us over the last 100 years), we can spread things out a little, giving ourselves some breathing room to actually enjoy the season a little bit more. We could light a candle for each day of the octave, similar to the Jewish practice of lighting the menorah, but not duplicating it entirely.
The reason for the whole celebration is remembering that Christmas marks the coming of
the Light (Christ) into the world. Regular church attendance should be central to the observance of this Christmas Octave, and the continuation of Christmas songs and prayers throughout the week will also help. Of course the end of the Octave is already well marked for us with the celebration of the new year, and isn't it fitting that an eight-day feast marking the birthday of Christ ends with a really big party.
Main Christmas Song
MERRY CHRISTMAS 1
Dashing through the snow, on a one-horse open sleigh,Over the fields we go, laughing all the way; Bells on bob-tail ring, making spirits bright,
What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight. Chorus: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! O what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh. A day or two ago, I thought I'd take a ride, And soon Miss Fannie Bright was seated by my side; The horse was lean and lank, misfortune seemed his lot; He got into a drifted bank, and we, we got upsot. Chorus Now the ground is white, go it while you're young, Take the girls tonight, and sing this sleighing song; Just get a bob-tailed bay, two-forty as his speed, Hitch him to an open sleigh, and crack! you'll the lead.
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