Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th. It is a statutory holiday throughout Canada. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the next working day is considered a legal holiday.
Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the ‘birth of Jesus Christ’. In the third century, efforts were made to find out the date of the Nativity (birth of Jesus – Eisa (peace be upon Him)], but only in the year 336 was the date of the December 25 festival set in commemoration of Jesus’ birth. Pope Julius formally selected December 25 as the day of Christmas in 349 C.E..
Origin of Christmas
The early pagans & mushrikeen (those who associate partners with The Almighty God) of the Northern countries have always observed the period of time when the cold season reached its peak and the days began to shorten. Hence, December 21st is regarded as the shortest day of the calendar year. These early pagans would worship their gods and goddesses during this transformation of the season. For example in ancient Rome, from Dec 17th to Dec. 24th the mushrikeen would celebrate a festival in honor of Saturn, the god of time. Similarly during this period, the Druids would celebrate a festival in honor of the Sun god. The ancient Germanic tribes celebrated the pagan feast of twelve nights from Dec. 25th to Jan. 6th. The conflicts of the forces of nature were represented as battles between the gods. The birthday of the Sun god (Mithra) was celebrated on Dec. 25th and was known as the Lord’s Day long before the Christian Era. (Source: Mithras, the Fellow in the Cap, Holiday Myths)
Actual date of the birth of Jesus (Eisa, peace be upon Him)
Christmas (Dec. 25th) is not the actual date of the birth of Jesus but rather a compromise with paganism. The Gospel does not clarify regarding the seasons of the year when Jesus was born. On the other hand, they do tell us that shepherds were guarding their flocks in the open air (see: Luke 2:1-20 – King James Version). This is why, many of the early leaders of the Church considered it most likely that the birth of Jesus occurred in the late summer or early Fall/Autumn. It is due to this and other innumerable facts which indicate that Christmas (Dec. 25th) actually has nothing to do with Jesus. In the TIME magazine (Canadian version dated Dec 13th 2004) the cover story (Behind the First Noel) by David Van Biema, writes “Indeed, the Christmas story that Christians know by heart is actually a collection of mysteries. Where was Jesus actually born? Who showed up to celebrate his arrival? How do the details of the stories reflect the specific outreach agendas of the men who wrote them?”
The Christmas of Today – Merriment & Materialism
Nowadays, when Christmas is mentioned, most people immediately think of Santa Claus instead of Jesus. The image of Jesus son of Mariam (Mary, mercy be upon Her) is secondary and many a times lost in the enjoyment and materialism. People spend thousands of dollars purchasing gifts & presents for each other during Christmas. In fact most people sink into debt that can last for a year or two, if not more.
Jesus was a very humble and simple man. He distant himself from the material world possessing almost nothing of this world. He was full of good character and worshiped the One true God, the Almighty. Only those who follow his lifestyle can be regarded as nearest to him.
Symbols of Christmas
SANTA CLAUS & GIFTS: Santa Claus is not of Christian origin. Santa Claus is a mythical old man who brings gifts to children at Christmas time (ofcourse nowadays, gifts are purchased by parents & friends and the children are told that the gifts have been brought by Santa Claus). Today’s version of Santa originally developed from a real person, Saint Nicholas, who lived 1700 years ago. He was bishop of Myra, an ancient town of Lycia, now in Turkey. He was extremely kind and often went out at night, taking presents to the needy. His generosity was not bound by any particular time of the year. He was much loved by his community for his kindness. After his death which occurred on the 6th day of December, school boys all over Europe celebrated a feast day every year on the anniversary of his death. Children were so fond of Saint Nicholas and his habit of bringing gifts that the custom of celebrating his feast day on the 6th day of December was maintained for hundreds of years. In England, Saint Nicholas Day festivities were banned when Henry VIII founded the church of England. They were later resumed when Queen Victoria married German Prince Albert, but Saint Nicholas in his return was transformed to Father Christmas and appeared on Christmas Eve, the 24th day of December, not the originally celebrated date of December 6th. The N. American tradition of Santa Claus was taken from the altered English version. Santa Claus (a German translation of St. Nicholas) was modeled after a man of kindness, generosity and compassion. It was only in the last few hundred years that Santa Claus was associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas.
Lights: The mushrikeen Druids would celebrate a festival in honor of the Sun god during this period because of the change in season. During their celebrations torches were lit and strange ceremonies were enacted in honor of the Sun god. (Source: Holiday Myths)
The Christmas tree: Mushrikeen during their festivals would decorate trees in honor of the god of time. At the very tip, the representation of a radiant sun would be placed there in honor of Apollo, the sun-god to whom the final days of December were dedicated. (Source: 1001 Christmas Facts and Fancies)