The cult of Mithras of Persian origin, brought to Rome by the Roman legionaries, has been practiced in Rome since the 1st century BC. Celebrated. Mithras was the Persian deity of light. On December 25th, the birth of Mithra, the invincible sun (Dies natalis solis invicti), was celebrated on the occasion of the winter solstice. It was celebrated with the sacrifice of a calf. In 274, Emperor Aurelian Mithra declared the worship of the state religion and set the solstice for December 25th.
The day has a human and Christian meaning.
Ecumenical and interreligious aspect.
Feast of the Holy Family.
1. The origin of the December 25th liturgy.
Christmas did not exist in early Christianity. It was not until the second century that the Church tried to fix the date of Jesus' birth in the year zero, which the Gospels do not speak of. Several dates were suggested: January 6th, March 25th, April 10th ...
At 330 or 354, Emperor Constantine decided to set the Christmas date to December 25th. In 354 Pope Liberius introduced the feast of December 25th, which marks the beginning of the liturgical year. This date, December 25th, has a symbolic value. Indeed, following the suggestion of Malachi 19/3 and Luke 1/78, we consider the coming of Christ as the rising of the "sun of righteousness". Christmas, the feast of December 25th, celebrates the birth of Jesus, the sun of righteousness.
The festival of December 25th gradually reached the east: 379 in Constantinople, at the beginning of the fifth century in Gaulle, in the fifth century in Jerusalem, and at the end of the fifth century in Egypt. In the fourth century Eastern churches, the revelation of God on January 6th was celebrated in various ways.
2. The Christmas story up to the end of the Middle Ages.
Emperor Theodosius officially codified the Christmas celebrations in 425. The holiday of December 25th became exclusively Christian. Clovis was baptized on the night of December 25, 496. In 529, Emperor Justinian made the festival of December 25 a day off. The midnight liturgy has been celebrated with the pontificate of Gregory the Great since the 5th century. In the 7th century, the custom of holding 3 masses was introduced in Rome: the night watch on December 24th, morning prayer and daily mass on December 25th.
The Christmas holidays are gradually spreading across Europe. It was celebrated in the late 5th century in Ireland, in England in the 7th century, in Germany in the 8th century, in the Scandinavian countries in the 9th century, in the Slavic countries in the 9th century, and in the Slavic countries in the 10th century . Since the 12th century, the religious celebration of Christmas has been accompanied by liturgical dramas, the "mysteries" of pastoral worship or the procession of the Magi. These liturgical dramas were played first in churches and later in court.
3. The Christmas story since the Renaissance.
Churches emerged in Italy in the 15th century and Christmas trees in Germany in the 16th century. During the Reformation of 1560, Protestants turned against the nativity scene and preferred the tradition of trees. With the Counter-Reformation of the 17th century, the church banned liturgical theater performances because they had become too profane.
Santa Claus appeared in America in the 19th century. It spread to Europe after World War II. Charities have been serving traditional food for the underprivileged since the 19th century. Today this day is more of a day for the child and the family.
4. Documents on the origin and history of the ceremony
Christmas Day has a human and a Christian meaning.
From a human point of view, it has a family and social meaning. From a religious point of view, Christmas Day, or rather Christmas, expresses a fundamental aspect of the Christian faith: the coming of the Son of God into the world for the happiness of people. Today it is important to note that the human meaning of the day is more important than the Christian meaning of the birth of Christ.
1. Christmas, Family Holiday and Children's Day.
Christmas Day is a family vacation: a special time to be together as a family for all generations. This day, with all its expressions, brings back memories and the feeling of belonging to a family. Everyone finds this way of building this connection in their own way: sharing a meal, waking up, hearing stories, meeting about the birth. As the child's place in the family grew, Christmas became Children's Day - a magical night in which children's wishes come true, for the delight of adults.
2. Message of peace, sharing joy.
"Glory to God and peace on earth!" : This is how the angels sang at the birth of Christ. The announcement of the birth of the Messiah is a message of peace. Every year on Christmas Day, the Pope sends a message of peace to the world.
For anyone who is somehow marginalized, it is important to share the joy of giving birth. The poor, the young, the old are there. Charities organize the distribution of Christmas gifts to the homeless, the isolated, the sick and the elderly.
3. Christmas, the feast of the coming of the Son of God into the world.
After looking at the various human aspects, let's examine the Christian meaning. Christmas celebrates the coming of the Son of God into the world. With the birth of Jesus the mystery of the incarnation is fulfilled: He is the only Son of God who became man. To use the vocabulary of the Gospel of John (2/14): "The word became flesh and dwelt among us."
God became human so that we could share His divine nature and forgive our sins. That is the purpose of the incarnation. To share the human condition in its entirety.
His birth in poverty brings justice and peace to the world, God was humble among us.
1. Orthodox Christmas.
From the 4th century onwards, the birth of Jesus is celebrated on January 6th. This Orthodox Christmas holiday commemorated both the revelation of the birth of Christ to pastors and sorcerers and the revelation of Christ at his baptism. It is the solemnity of the manifestation of God and also marks the return of the divine light. Today the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch as well as the Church of Greece celebrate the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Magi on December 25th, because they have adopted the Gregorian calendar. The Russian, Serbian, Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian Churches celebrate the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Magi on January 7th (13 days after December 25th) because they kept the Julian calendar.
Preparing for Orthodox Christmas is a time of fasting. In fact, the greatest celebrations are prepared with a Lent. Orthodox Christmas Eve is just as important as the day itself, as it is mainly characterized by fasting.
2. Christmas for Protestants.
In 1560, at the time of the Reformation, the Protestants refused to depict the birth of Christ in a Catholic crib. They prefer to develop the tradition of the Christmas tree, a tree that symbolizes Adam and Eve's paradise and the knowledge of good and bad.
3. Muslim Christmas Day
Some people celebrate Christmas for children and believe that a Muslim can accept an invitation from his Christian friends to come on this day. But in principle a Muslim should not celebrate a non-Muslim religious holiday.
However, the Koran (sura III, verse 42/47) says that Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin. In fact, Mohammed learned of the birth of Jesus from an apocryphal gospel and the Koran recognizes Jesus as a prophet. But does Islam allow us to celebrate the birth of the prophets? Here too, Muslims are divided.
4. The Day and Time of Christmas for Jews
Christmas Day is meaningless to Jews.
Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah, the festival of lights. During this ceremony, each person lights a candle in an eight-armed chandelier every night of the week. A present is exchanged daily for eight days during Hanukkah.
Feast of the Holy Family.
The Feast of the Holy Family was introduced by the Roman Church in 1893. The Feast of the Holy Family takes place on the Sunday after December 25th. This date of the Feast of the Holy Family was set for the 1969 liturgical reform. The Feast of the Holy Family was extended to the Universal Church in 1921. A Canadian religious gave birth to the cult of the Holy Family, which was spread in the 19th century with the assistance of Pope Leo XIII. Here the Holy Family was presented as a model for the Catholic family.