Celebrating Christmas


Christmas is a Christian festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus. Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God so this is an important day of observance for them.


Christmas Day is on the 25th of December every year.


Many non-Christians also celebrate Christmas, or the Christmas period which can be considered to be the whole of December!


Some "Yule" or "Yuletide" traditions are closely linked to Christmas rituals. Yule is a festival which is historically observed by the Germanic people around the same time of year and is linked to celebrating the Winter Solstice.


The Nativity

Photo by Mick Haup on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/@rocinante_11

The story of the 'Nativity' is the main Christian story of Christmas. It tells of a woman, Mary, who travels with her fiancée Joseph to the town of Bethlehem to take part in a census which had been ordered by the ruling Romans. Mary was pregnant, and she went into labour in Bethlehem, but they had nowhere to stay as the town was very busy and all the rooms were already full. Eventually a friendly innkeeper offered that they could sleep in his stable, which was actually a cave, alongside his animals.


This was where Jesus was born. After he was born he was visited by three wise men who had followed a really bright star in the sky which had led them all the way to the stable. They knew Jesus was important, and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Some shepherds also came to visit the baby as they were led there by an Angel.


Christmas celebrations and symbols.

Christmas has a number of traditions which people use to celebrate the season.


Christians will usually visit their church and sing special songs called carols, which celebrate the birth of Jesus and goodwill associated with the festival of Christmas. The Nativity story is often told at church services, and children take the parts of Mary, Joseph, the three wise men and shepherds.


People like to decorate their homes with fairy lights and burn candles throughout December to mark the advent, which is the countdown to Christmas Day from the 1st of December.

There are many different symbols which are closely linked to Christmas. For example stars are very common for Christmas decorations, and represent the Star of Bethlehem in the Nativity story which guided the wise men to where Jesus was.

People also bring in Christmas trees to their homes and decorate them with hanging ornaments and fairy lights - a tradition which started around the 16th Century and originates in Germany.

Presents and Christmas food

The giving of gifts on Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve in some European countries, is very common. It is thought to be linked to the Nativity story - where the wise men brought gifts for the baby Jesus.


What people eat for their Christmas celebration varies around the world, but in the UK the traditional Christmas dinner includes Turkey, roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables such as brussels sprouts and parsnips.


A special Christmas Pudding is often eaten. It has its history in Medieval England and is made from suet (a type of animal fat) breadcrumbs and dried fruits.


Resources

Here are some fun Christmas craft activities for you to try:


Make a Christmas wintery town scene You can make this magical snow scene out of recycled materials at home.

Make a Christmas snowflake One of our Carnival artists shows you how to make a festive Christmas snowflake out of recycled materials.


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