Christmas is a time for Families, Fun, and Festivities! A time of family gatherings and holiday meals. Christmas originates from the word Cristes maesse, or "Christ's Mass." The first Christmas is estimated to be around 336 AD in Rome. It was celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas is traditionally celebrated on December 25. It is preceded by Christmas Eve and in some countries is followed by Boxing Day.

Birth of Jesus Christ:

According to the legends, the birth of Jesus dates back to the time of the Roman Empire that was ruled by Caesar Augustus. Israel was then under the rule of King Herod. Joseph was a carpenter in the small village of Nazareth. He was to be married to Mary. Mary once dreamt of an angel who told her she would bear the Son of God whom should be named Jesus. One day everyone was instructed by the emperor to go back to his or her town of birth. So Mary and Joseph left Nazareth for Bethlehem. Mary was going to have a baby, so she rode a donkey and Joseph walked beside her. It was night soon and a storm came on. The couple took shelter in a nearby stable. It was there that Jesus was born. Christmas is celebrated to commemorate that day.

Christmas Tree:

The exact origin of the Christmas tree is not known, but there are many theories floating around. The most widely believed one is that Martin Luther, the founder of protestant faith conceptualized the Christmas tree. He was walking in the forest on Christmas Eve. As he walked through the forest he saw millions of stars shimmering through the branches of the evergreen trees. He found the view so fascinating that he cut a small tree and took it home. To recreate the same beauty, he lit candles on the branches of the tree. Thus began the tradition of a Christmas tree.

Another legend claims that a poor woodsman met a lost and hungry child. He gave food and shelter to the child although he was too poor himself. When he woke up next morning he saw a glittering tree outside his house. The child whom he had invited into his home was Christ disguised as a poor child. He gifted the tree to the woodsman for his good deed and the concept of Christmas tree came into existence.

Christmas Celebrations:

Christmas is celebrated in most countries around the world, owing to the spread of Christianity and Western culture, mixed with the enduring popularity of existing winter celebrations.

Christmas Celebrations in India:

Christmas celebrations vary in different parts of India. In some parts, small clay oil-burning lamps, mango leaves etc are used as Christmas decorations and mango and banana trees are decorated. All the major Indian cities wear a festive look. Shops and markets are decorated for the occasion and offer attractive bargains.

People give presents to family members and baksheesh, or charity, to the poor people.

In India, the poinsettia is in flower and so the churches are decorated with this brilliant bloom for the Christmas Midnight Mass.

In South India, Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses at Christmas, just as the Hindus do during their festival called Diwali.

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