Religion

Holy Christmas: the most famous Christian feast in the world

Holy Christmas is a Christian feast we celebrate on the 25th of December in order to honour the birth of Jesus.

Its origin date back to the IV century: it was first certainly mention on 25th of December 336. The origins of the feast aren’t known, but there are a few hypothesis about it.
It is thought that the date 25th of December has been chosen to substitute the feast of Natalis Solis Invicti, although during the course of the years some studies have also considered Jewish influences. These different theories can coexist, but they are not in contrast.

According to the Liturgical Calendar, Christmas is the most important Feast after Easter, even though traditionally it is the most heartfelt and waited for in the Christian World. Closely tied to this tradition are the Nativity scene and the Christmas Tree, both traditions of the middle ages.

In particular, the tradition of the nativity has developed in Italy during the centuries, giving life to some true works of art, praised and copied all over the world.

The most famous one is the Neapolitan Nativity Art. This form of art originates in Naples in the year 1000, and it is characterised by a number of different figurines, each with a different meaning.
Another type of nativity which is very famous is the Real Life Nativity. In these representations the characters which make up the scene, generally figurines made of terracotta or plastic, are substituted by real people, who play the roles with great passion.

The Christmas Tree is the other element that cannot miss in any house during the festive season. Usually a pine tree, the Christmas tree is embellished with all sorts of decorations: baubles, lights, candles and other figurines representing angels and doves.

Despite being a Christian tradition, during the centuries Christmas has become a festive day for everyone, even though for certain people it embodies a different, non-religious meaning. In the last century Christmas became a real event in economic and commercial terms, thanks to the present swapping tradition.

A further tradition closely related to Christmas is the arrival of Santa Clouse, a character who distributes presents to children on Christmas Eve. A similar character can be found in many other countries in the worls, such as Latin America, Japan and different parts of East Asia.

The Christian origins of Santa Clause relate to Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, considered the protector of children after he, according to the legend, brought back to life five children who had been killed by an innkeeper.

Before the conversion to Christianity, the Germanic legend narrated that the god Odin, together with the other gods, used to organise a hunting session every year, during the winter solstice. For the occasion, the children would fill their boots with carrots, hay and sugar and leave them close to the fireplace. In exchange for that, Odin would have left gifts and sweets. In this occasion too, the character is represented as a bearded old man, just like in the Christian tradition.

Linked to Santa Clause is the letter that every child writes to ask for their favourite toys. This habit has now become so important that in Canada there is a Postcode to use for this precise reason. Since 1982 to today over 13.000 employees of the Canadian Posts have replied to the letters to give hope to the children of tthe poorest areas of the country.

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