Thursday, 20 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of the year again, where millions of people across the world get out their old Christmas decorations, set up that Christmas tree, eat mince pies and mulled wine and hope for snow.

Christmas means 'Feast day of Christ', and although it is a Christian holiday honouring the birth of Jesus, non-Christians celebrate it too as a cultural holiday. But how did Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25th? Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. However there was nothing Christian about Saturnalia, so Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with Saturnalia, worshippers of the Asheira cult were recruited by the Church because they sanctioned “Christmas Trees”. Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE and later became Bishop of Myra. He died in 345 CE on December 6th, and in the C.19th was named a saint. Nicholas was among the most senior bishops who convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and created the New Testament. In 1087, a group of sailors who idolized Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy. There Nicholas was given a female deity called The Grandmother, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children's stockings with her gifts. The Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did (and they should) distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th, and that is how Santa Claus was invented.

Hopefully I will have a chance to blog in Dubai but if not I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and a wonderful New Year.