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The word Christmas or Christmas Day

Roberto Henry Ebelt

23.12.2011

The word Christmas or Christmas Day

The word Christmas or Christmas Day has its origin in Old English: Cr?stesmæsse, literally "Christ's mass") (Mass means missa). Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated generally on December 25 as a religious and cultural holiday by billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent* season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide**. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.

*Advent (from the Latin word meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi. The Eastern churches' equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, but it differs both in length and observances and does not begin the church year, which starts instead on 1 September.

**Christmastide (also Christmas or the Christmas season) is one of the seasons of the liturgical year of most Christian churches. It tends to be defined (with slight variations) as the period from Christmas Eve to the evening of 5 January, the day before Epiphany**. This period is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, as referred to in the Christmas carol of the same name.

***Epiphany: n. (Christianity) religious holiday celebrated on January 6th to commemorate the visit of the wise men (three kings) who followed the star to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Three Kings Day.


The precise day of Jesus' birth, which historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown. In the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church first placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted also in the East. Theories advanced to explain that choice include that it falls exactly nine months after the Christian celebration of the conception of Jesus,] or that it was selected to coincide with either the date of the Roman winter solstice or of some ancient pagan winter festival.

The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2011, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia and Ukraine celebrate Christmas, both as a Christian feast and as a public holiday, on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7.

The popular celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations, including Christmas trees, lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and Kris Kringle among other names, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

When you take a look at the origin of the word, you have a good idea of how far we are from the religious usages and customs of early Christians. One good thing, generally speaking, is that the Western World (Christian world) has advanced very much in terms of humanity. When you compare Christians to Muslims, the main interest of who seems to be exploding people in general, such difference is very easy to grasp.

The question is: when will they stop exploding themselves?

Mind you, I am not interested in knowing when they will stop exploding (us) Christians and Westerners.

First, the Sunnites [sãnaites] must stop exploding the Shiites [shi-aits] and vice-versa. Only after reaching this level of companionship among them, can we expect them to accept Jesus Christ’s admonitions such as the one below:

44. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you, and pray for them, which (who) despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45. That ye (you) may be the children of you father which (Who) is in heaven: for he maketh (makes) his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth (sends) rain on the just and on the unjust.

46. For if ye (you) love them which (who) love you, what reward have ye (you)? Do not even the publicans (tax collectors – cobradores de impostos) do the same?

47. And if ye (you) salute your brethren (brothers) only, what do ye (you) (do) more than others? Do not even the publicans (tax collectors – arrecadadores de impostos) (do) so?

47. Be ye (you) therefore perfect, even as your Father which (Who) is in heaven is perfect. (Mathews 6, verses 44 to 47).

From the bottom of my heart, I pray to my God, Whose name I do not know, that mankind may learn to be, at least, a little less sanguinary and selfish than in the past year.

 

Happy Holidays are my (and my family) wishes to you, my dear readers.

 


Tags: Roberto Henry Ebelt, ensino, inglês


Roberto Henry Ebelt é professor, escritor, escreveu uma coluna semanal para o Jornal do Comércio de Porto Alegre entre 2001 e 2013, e é diretor do curso HENRY'S BUSINESS ENGLISH desde 1971.

Seu mais recente livro, O QUE VOCÊ DEVE SABER ANTES DE ESTUDAR INGLÊS, pode ser encontrado nas livrarias Disal, Cultura e SBS ou à rua Hoffmann, 728 em Porto Alegre.

E-mail: roberto@henrys.com.br
Fone (51) 3222-3144
www.henrys.com.br
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