Thursday, December 1, 2011

December, the Christmas Month

How many people die per day worldwide?--->
<---Hyperdulia



December used to be the tenth month of the Roman year, and it gets its name from the word 'decem', which means ten.

The Anglo-Saxons called it "Winter monath", or "Yule monath" because of the custom of burning the yule log around this time.
After many Anglo-Saxons became Christians they called it 'Heligh monath' or holy month, because Christmas, the birth of Jesus, is celebrated in December.

In the northern hemisphere December marks the beginning of winter, and it is the time of rain, wind and snow.

December is very much associated with Christmas and a lot of December customs and traditions have therefore been swallowed up by the festival.

Christmas, the mass of Christ, is held on 25th December and commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ 2010 years ago.

At the beginning of December, the season of Advent starts.
The word advent means 'coming', and as its name suggests it is a time of preparation for the coming feast of Christmas.

Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally observed on December 25 (with alternative days of January 6, 7 and 19) to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity.
The holiday was first sanctioned by the Roman state Church in the early-to-mid 4th century, and remains one of the central feasts in the Christian liturgical year.
The exact birthday of Jesus is not known, and the date for Christmas is thought to have been selected to coincide with either the date of the Roman winter solstice, one of various ancient winter festivals, or the day exactly nine months after Jesus’ traditional conception date.

The holiday was initially instituted to commemorate solely the nativity of Jesus, and many celebrants continue to incorporate this element at the forefront of their celebrations.
However, many customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, and are today considered secular.

Certain elements from pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia.

The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday's inception, ranging from a raucous, drunken, carnival-like state through the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme since a 19th-century reformation.
The celebration of Christmas has been banned on more than one occasion within Christendom due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.

The Christmas season is celebrated in different ways around the world, varying by country and region. Elements common to many areas of the world include the lighting of Christmas trees, the hanging of wreaths, Christmas stockings, candy canes, and/or the creation of Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.

In addition to being widely celebrated by the adherents of most denominations of Christianity, Christmas is observed by an increasing number of non-Christians worldwide.
It is also an officially-recognized holiday in a vast majority of the world's nations, including ones that separate religion from government and/or have a negligible population of Christians.

Christmas carols may be sung and stories told about such figures as the Baby Jesus, St Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Christkindl or Grandfather Frost.
The sending of Christmas cards, the exchange of Christmastime greetings, observance of fasting and/or special religious observances such as a midnight Mass or Vespers on Christmas Eve, the burning of a Yule log, and the giving and receiving of presents.

Along with Easter, Christmas time is one of the most important periods on the Christian calendar, and is often closely connected to other holidays at this time of year, such as Advent, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, St. Nicholas Day, St. Stephen's Day, New Year's, and the Feast of the Epiphany.

In addition to being widely celebrated by the adherents of most denominations of Christianity, Christmas is observed by an increasing number of non-Christians worldwide.
It is also an officially-recognized holiday in a vast majority of the world's nations, including ones that separate religion from government and/or have a negligible population of Christians.

ETYMOLOGY

The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.
"Cristes" is from Greek Χριστός Christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa (the holy mass).

DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH

Altar in the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.

The nativity accounts in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke do not mention a date or time of year for the birth of Jesus and Karl Rahner states that the gospels do not in general provide enough details of dates to satisfy the demands of modern historians.
But both Luke and Matthew associate Jesus' birth with the time of King Herod, and according to Karl Rahner many historians therefore estimate Jesus was born sometime around 4 BC.

However, many scholars see a contradiction, in that while the Gospel of Matthew places Jesus' birth under the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BC, the Gospel of Luke also dates the birth ten years after Herod's death during the census of Quirinius, described by the historian Josephus.

Most critical scholars believe that Luke was simply mistaken, but other scholars have attempted to reconcile its account with the details given by Josephus. For instance, Steven Cox and Kendell Easley list four separate approaches to a solution, ranging from a grammatical approach to the translation of the Greek word prote used in Luke to be read as "registration before Quirinius was governor of Syria" to archeological arguments and references to Tertullian that indicate that a "two step census" was performed, involving an early registration.

Despite the celebration of Christmas in December, neither Luke nor Matthew mention a season for when Jesus was born. However, scholarly arguments regarding the realism of shepherds grazing their flock during the winter have taken place, both challenging a winter birth for Jesus, as well as defending it by relying on the mildness of winters in Palestine and rabbinic rules regarding sheep near Bethlehem before February.

The Gospels of both Matthew and Luke place the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Matthew does not explicitly state that Joseph lived in Bethlehem prior to the birth of Jesus, however scholars have concluded that in Matthew, Joseph and Mary apparently live in Bethlehem before the birth.

Scholars question the birth narratives because they conflict with each other or with historical plausibility. Luke's account contradicts Matthew's as to Jesus' genealogy, Joseph's original home (Bethlehem or Nazareth), the year of Jesus' birth (during Herod's reign or during Quirinius' census), and where Joseph took his family when they left Jerusalem (Egypt or Nazareth).

The Gospel of Luke account states that Mary gave birth toJesus and laid him in a manger “because there was no place for them in the inn," but does not say exactly where Jesus was born.
The Greek word kataluma may be translated as either “inn” or “guestroom”, and some scholars have speculated that Joseph and Mary may have sought to stay with relatives, rather than in an inn, only to find the house full (whereupon they resorted to the shelter of a room with a manger.

In the 2nd century, Justin Martyr stated that Jesus had been born in a cave outside the town, while the Protoevangelium of James described a legendary birth in a cave nearby.
The Church of the Nativity inside the town, built by St. Helena, contains the cave-manger site traditionally venerated as the birthplace of Jesus, which may have originally been a site of the cult of the god Tammuz.
In Contra Celsum 1.51, Origen, who from around 215 travelled throughout Palestine wrote of the "manger of Jesus".

The Quran, like the Gospels, places the virgin birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
In Islam, the prophet Muhammad is said to have been born 570 years after the birth of Jesus.

NATIVITY OF JESUS

The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts.

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus' birth.
Depending on one's perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story.
These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40.
According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.

According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals, though neither the stable nor the animals are specifically mentioned in the Biblical accounts.
However, a manger is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states, "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Early iconographic representations of the nativity placed the animals and manger within a cave (located, according to tradition, under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem).
Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child.

The Gospel of Matthew also describes a visit by several Magi, or astrologers, who bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus.
The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews.
The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.

Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions.

In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event.
Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event.

Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent.
The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve.

A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a barn or stable and include Mary, Joseph, the child Jesus, angels, shepherds and the Three Wise Men: Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar, who are said to have followed a star, known as the Star of Bethlehem, and arrived after his birth.

USING THE JULIAN CALENDAR

Eastern Orthodox national churches, including those of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark feasts using the older Julian calendar.
December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the internationally-used Gregorian calendar. However, other Orthodox Christians, such as the churches of Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland and the Orthodox Church in America, among others, began using the Revised Julian calendar in the early 20th century, which corresponds exactly to the Gregorian calendar.

CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday.

Countries such as Japan and Korea, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees.

Notable countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include People's Republic of China, (excepting Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and North Korea.
Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.

Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season.
Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance.

In Catholic countries, the people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas. In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held.
Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6, Epiphany.

DECEMBER, 25th. DATE OF CELEBRATION

For centuries, Christian writers accepted that Christmas was the actual date on which Jesus was born. John Chrysostom preached a sermon in Antioch c. 386 which established the date of Christmas as December 25 on the Julian calendar since the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26) had been announced during the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist (Luke 1:10-13) as dated from the duties Zacharias performed on the Day of Atonement during the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar Ethanim or Tishri (Lev. 16:29, 1 Kings 8:2) which falls in September–October.

In the early 18th century, scholars began proposing alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the winter solstice, which the Romans called bruma and celebrated on December 25.

In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a "paganization" that debased the true church.
In 1889, Louis Duchesne proposed that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after the Annunciation, the traditional date of the conception of Jesus.

In the early 4th century, the church calendar contained Christmas on December 25 and other holidays placed on solar dates:
"It is cosmic symbolism...which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the winter solstice, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the summer solstice as that of John the Baptist, supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception.
While they were aware that pagans called this day the 'birthday' of Sol Invictus, this did not concern them and it did not play any role in their choice of date for Christmas," according to modern scholar S.E. Hijmans.

However, today, whether or not the birth date of Jesus is on December 25 is not considered to be an important issue among mainstream Christian denominations; rather, celebrating the coming of God into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary meaning of Christmas.

CHRISTMASS TREE

The Christmas tree is a decorated evergreen coniferous tree, real or artificial, and a tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas. The Christmas tree is traditionally brought into the home and decorated with Christmas lights (originally candles), ornaments, garlands, tinsel, and candy canes during the days around Christmas.
An angel or star is placed at the top of the tree, representing the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

The Christmas tree is sometimes called a Yule tree, particularly by those who wish to avoid Christian connection but others explicitly distinguish between the two or identify the Yule tree with an undecorated evergreen tree.

HISTORY

A Christmas tree for German soldiers in a temporary hospital in 1871In the German Middle Ages, mystery plays at Christmas time within churches often featured an evergreen "Paradise tree" from which an apple was plucked.

The first evidence of Christmas trees outside of a church is of the 16th century, with trees in guild halls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children. (A Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree decorated with "apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers" was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members' children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day).

Soon after, they are seen in the houses of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic Christmas cribs. In the 18th century they begin to be adorned with candles, which were expensive items.

Only in the 19th century did they come into use more widely, often in schools and inns before they appeared in homes. A decisive factor in winning general popularity was the German army's decision to place Christmas trees in its barracks and military hospitals during the 1870-1871 war.
Only at the turn of the century did Christmas trees again appear inside churches, this time in a new brightly lit form.

In Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced in the time of the personal union with Hanover, by George III's Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in early 19th century, but the custom hadn't yet spread much beyond the royal family.
Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with the custom and a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote, "After dinner… we then went into the drawing-room near the dining-room…

There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees…"
After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became even more widespread throughout Britain.
In 1847, Prince Albert wrote: "I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest [his brother] and I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be".

The United States' National Christmas Tree is lit each year on the South Lawn of the White House. Today, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree is part of what has become a major holiday event at the White House. President Jimmy Carter lit only the crowning star atop the Tree in 1979 in honour of the Americans being held hostage in Iran.
The same was true in 1980, except the tree was fully lit for 417 seconds, one second for each day the hostages had been in captivity.

The term Charlie Brown Christmas tree is used in the United States and Canada to describe any poor-looking or malformed little tree.
Some tree buyers intentionally adopt such trees, feeling sympathetic to their plights.
The term comes from the appearance of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree in the TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

In New Zealand, Pōhutukawa trees are described as "native Christmas trees", as they bloom at Christmas time, and look like Christmas trees with their red flowers and green foliage.

In Russia, the Christmas tree was banned shortly after the October Revolution but then reinstated as a New-year fir-tree (Новогодняя ёлка) in 1935.
It became a fully secular icon of the New year holiday, for example, the crowning star was regarded not as a symbol of Bethlehem Star, but as the Red Star.
Decorations, such as figurines of airplanes, bicycles, space rockets, cosmonauts, and characters of Russian fairy tales, were produced.
This tradition persists after the fall of the USSR, with the New Year holiday outweighting the Christmas (7 January) for a wide majority of Russian people.

IMPACT ON CHRISTIANITY

In the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Lord's Day (Sunday) was the earliest Christian celebration and included a number of theological themes.
In the 2nd century, the Resurrection of Jesus became a separate feast as Easter and in the same century Epiphany began to be celebrated in the Churches of the East on January 6.
The celebration of the feast of the Magi on January 6 may relate to a pre-Christian celebration for the blessing of the Nile in Egypt on January 5, but this is not historically certain.

The festival of the Nativity which later turned into Christmas was a 4th century feast in the Western Church notably in Rome and North Africa, although it is uncertain exactly where and when it was first celebrated.

There is historical evidence that by the middle of the 4th century the Christian churches of the East celebrated the birth and Baptism of Jesus on the same day, on January 6 while those in the West celebrated a Nativity feast on December 25 (perhaps influenced by the Winter solstice); and that by the last quarter of the 4th century, the calendars of both churches included both feasts.

The earliest suggestions of a fast of Baptism of Jesus on January 6 during the 2nd century comes from Clement of Alexandria, but there is no further mention of such a feast until 361 when Emperor Julian attended a feast on January 6 in the year 361.

The Chronography of 354 illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome includes an early reference to the celebration of a Nativity feast.
In a sermon delivered in Antioch on December 25, c. 386, Saint John Chrysostom provides specific information about the feats there, stating that the feast had existed for about 10 years.

By around 385 the feast for the birth of Jesus was distinct from that of the Baptism and was held on December 25 in Constantinople, Nyssa and Amaseia. In a sermon in 386, Gregory of Nyssa specifically related the feast of Nativity with that of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, celebrated a day later. By 390 the feast was also held in Iconium on that day.

Pope Leo I established a feast of the "Mystery of Incarnation" in the 5th century, in effect as the first formal feast for the Nativity of Jesus.
Leo gave 10 sermons on Nativity and 7 have survived, the one on December 25, 451 demonstrates his concern to increas ethe importance of the feast.

Pope Sixtus III then instituted the practice of Midnight Mass just before that feast. In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian declared Christmas to be a legal holiday.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the theological importance of the Nativity of Jesus, was coupled with an emphasis on the loving nature of Child Jesus in sermons by figures such as Jean Gerson.
In his sermons Jean Gerson emphasized the loving nature of Jesus at his Nativity, as well as his cosmic plan for the salvation of mankind.

By the early part of the 20th century, year 1900 Christmas had become a "cultural signature" of Christianity and indeed of the Western culture even in countries such as the United States which are officially non-religious.
By the beginning of the 21st century these countries began to pay more attention to the sensitivities of non-Christians during the festivities at the end of the calendar year.

FOOD

Christmas pudding.

A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday's celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country.
Some regions, such as Sicily, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served.

In England and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose, meat, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies and fruit cake.

In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served.

In Germany, France and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan, a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season.

Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, bûche de Noël in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes.
The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake.
As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods.

SANTA CLAUS AND FATHER CHRISTMAS

A number of figures of both Christian and mythical origin have been associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.

The most famous and pervasive of these figures in modern celebration worldwide is Santa Claus, a mythical gift bringer, dressed in red, whose origins have diverse sources.
The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the 4th century.
Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of Children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.

Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop's attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not.

By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe.
At the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.

The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular in New York.
The transformation was accomplished with the aid of notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902).

Following the American Revolutionary War, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city's non-English past.
New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was reinvented as Saint Nicholas.

Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character.
He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts.

In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa.
The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany.

It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter.
In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.

Current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children's homes, a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.

In South Tyrol (Italy), Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Switzerland, the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents.

Greek children get their presents from Saint Basil on New Year's Eve, the eve of that saint's liturgical feast. The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus/Father Christmas).
St. Nikolaus wears a bishop's dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht.

Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.

DIES NATALIS SOLIS INVICTI

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered sun".

Modern scholars have argued that the festival was placed on the date of the solstice because this was on this day that the Sun reversed its southward retreat and proved itself to be "unconquered".[citation needed]

Some early Christian writers connected the rebirth of the sun to the birth of Jesus. "O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born...Christ should be born", Cyprian wrote.
John Chrysostom also commented on the connection: "They call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered'.
Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .?"

Although Dies Natalis Solis Invicti has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly speculation, the only ancient source for it is a single mention in the Chronography of 354, and modern Sol scholar Steven Hijmans argues that there is no evidence that the celebration precedes that of Christmas: "While the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas, and none that indicates that Aurelian had a hand in its institution."

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN INDIA

Being a British colony until 1947, many British traditions stayed on in India. Christmas is a state holiday in India, although Christianity in India is a minority with only 2.3% of the population.
Sincere devotees attend the church services. In many of the schools that are run by the Christian missionaries, the children actively participate in the programmes. Also in many non-religious schools, there is tradition of christmas celebration.

Christmas is also known as bada din (the big day). The presents are given to one another and "Merry Christmas" is wished.
India being a multicultural nation, many different languages are spoken there. In Hindi and Urdu, Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Bade Din ki Mubarak'; in Sanskrit it is 'Krismasasya shubhkaamnaa'; in Bengali 'Barodiner shubhechha janai'; in Telugu 'Christhu jayanthi shubhakankshalu'; in Tamil it's 'Christhu Jayanthi Nalvaalthukal'; and in Punjabi it's 'Christmas diya vadiyia'.

In India, Father Christmas or Santa Claus is held to be the giver of presents to children from a horse and cart. Santa Claus is known as 'Christmas Baba' in Hindi and 'Christmas Thaathaa' in Telugu and Tamil.
Commercialisation and open markets are however bringing more secular Christmas celebration to the public sphere, even though it is not widely celebrated as a religious holiday.

Days before the festival, markets take a colourful look as they are decorated with traditional Christmas trees, stars, images of Santa, balloons and festoons. Gift marketers too create many goods for Christmas and support them by launching advertising campaigns through newspapers, radio and television.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN PHILIPPINES

Christmas in the Philippines, one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia (the other one being East Timor), is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar and is widely celebrated.

The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world's longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols heard as early as September 1.
The season is traditionally ushered in by the nine-day dawn Masses that start on December 16. Known as the Misas de Aguinaldo (Gift Masses) or Misa de Gallo (Rooster's Mass) in the traditional Spanish.

These Masses are more popularly known in Tagalog as the Simbang Gabi. Usually, aside from the already legal holidays which are Rizal Day (December 30) and New Year's Eve (December 31), other days in close proximity such as Christmas Eve (December 24), Día de los Santos Inocentes (December 28), and the Epiphany (traditionally, January 6 but now on the first Sunday of January) are also declared non-working days.

As in many East Asian countries, secular Christmas displays are common both in business establishments and in public, including lights, Christmas trees, depictions of Santa Claus (despite the tropical climate), and Christmas greetings in English and various Philippine languages and dialects.

Occasionally such displays are left in place even in summer for example the parol representing the "Star of Bethlehem" which led the Three Kings to the newborn Baby Jesus.

In the capital Manila, Christmas Day is the start of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival during which locally produced films are featured in the city's theatres. The festival actually starts the day before with an annual float parade.

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve (Tagalog: Bisperas ng Pasko ; Spanish: Víspera del Día de Navidad) on December 24 is celebrated with the Midnight Mass, and immediately after, the much-anticipated Noche Buena – the traditional Christmas Eve feast.

Family members dine together around 12 midnight on traditional Nochebuena fare, which may include: queso de bola (Spanish: "ball of cheese"; this is actually edam cheese), Tsokolate (a hot chocolate drink), and jamón (Christmas ham), lechón, queso de bola, roast chicken or turkey, pasta, relleno (stuffed bangus or chicken), pan de sal, and various desserts including cakes and the ubiquitous fruit salad. Some would also open presents at this time.

Christmas officially ends on the Feast of the Three Kings (Tres Reyes in Spanish or Tatlong Hari in Tagalog), also known as the Feast of the Epiphany (Spanish: Fiesta de Epifanía). The Feast of the Three Kings was traditionally commemorated on January 6 but is now celebrated on the first Sunday after the New Year.

Some children leave their shoes out, in the belief that the Three Kings will leave gifts like candy or money inside. But the celebrations do not end there, they on on January 11 or the second Sunday of January in honor of the Lord Jesus's baptism in the Jordan.
The final salvo of these celebrations is marked by the feast of the Black Nazarene every January 9 in Manila, but can also, due to the celebrations in honor of the Santo Niño in the third and fourth Sundays of January in some places, can even extend till the final weeks of that month.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN MALAYSIA

Although Christmas is a public holiday in Malaysia, much of the public celebration is commercial in nature and has no overt religious overtones. Occasionally, Christian activist groups do buy newspaper advertorials on Christmas or Easter but this is largely only allowed in English newspapers and permission is not given every year.

The advertorials themselves are usually indirect statements. There has been controversy over whether or not the national government has exerted pressure on Malaysian Christians not to use Christian religious symbols and hymns that specifically mention Jesus Christ.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN SINGAPORE

Christmas is a public holiday in Singapore that is widely celebrated.
The Christmas season is also a popular period for shopping malls and business to conduct year-end sales, and will offer discounts and promotions that tie in with the festivities.
The famous Singaporean shopping belt Orchard Road, as well as the Marina Bay area will feature lights and other decorations from early November till early January.
The Christmas light-up and decorated shopping malls along Orchard Road often attract numerous visitors, locals and tourists alike. Other than the light-up, other activities such as caroling, concerts and parades can also be experienced in Orchard Road.
In addition, companies in Singapore usually arrange gift exchange programs on the last working day before Christmas.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN PAKISTAN

Christmas ceremoney in Karachi, Pakistan
In Pakistan, Christmas Day is celebrated by Pakistani Christians as Big Day, or Great Day.
While December 25 is a public holiday in Pakistan, it is not officially designated as Christmas, but rather as the birthday of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

Christianity in Pakistan constitutes the second largest religious minority community in Pakistan after Hindus. The total number of Christians is approximately 2,800,000 in 2008, or 1.6% of the population.
Of these, approximately half are Roman Catholic and half Protestant. Christians celebrate Christmas by going from house to house singing carols, and in return the family offers something to the choir.

Mostly the money collected from such carols is used for charity works or is given to the church. Their homes are decorated with local Christmas handicrafts while artificial stars signifying the Star of Bethlehem are hung on rooftops.
Christmas celebrations are also popular with the urban middle class in the country with hotels, cafes, restaurants and theme parks hosting festivities and special events.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN UNITED KINGDOM

In the United Kingdom the Christmas season starts at Advent, where holly wreaths are made with three purple, one pink and one white candle.
However many shops sell Christmas decorations beforehand.
It lasts until 6 January (Epiphany), as it is considered bad luck to have Christmas decorations up after this date.

On Christmas Eve, presents are supposedly delivered in stockings and under the Christmas tree by Father Christmas, who previously had been something like The Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but has now become mainly conflated with Santa Claus.

The two names are now used interchangeably and equally known to British people, but Father Christmas tends to be used more often, and some distinctive features still remain. Many families tell their children stories about Father Christmas and his reindeer.
One tradition is to put out a plate of carrots for the reindeer and mince pies and sherry for Father Christmas, to help him on his way.

Few families open their presents on Christmas Eve, the Royal family being a notable exception, and Queen Victoria as a child makes note of it in her diary for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote, "After dinner...we then went into the drawing-room near the dining-room...
There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments.
All the presents being placed round the trees.." Since the first commercial Christmas card was produced in London in 1843, cards are sent in the weeks leading up to Christmas, many of which contain the English festive greeting Merry Christmas.

On Christmas Day, a public holiday in the United Kingdom, nearly the whole population has the day off to be with their family and friends, so they can gather round for a traditional Christmas dinner, which is usually a turkey, traditionally with cranberries, parsnips, and roast potatoes, quite like the Sunday roast, and traditionally followed by a Christmas pudding.

During the meal, Christmas crackers, containing toys, jokes and a paper hat are pulled. Attendance at a Christmas Day church service is less popular than it used to be with fewer than 3 million now attending a Christmas Day Church of England service.
Watching the Queen's Speech on TV is a tradition that still remains hugely important in many households' Christmas Day, typically averaging 10 million viewers on TV and 2 million listeners via radio.

The Celebration of Boxing Day on the day after Christmas Day is a tradition practiced in the UK.
It is a bank holiday, and if it happens to fall on a weekend then a special Bank Holiday Monday will occur.
Also, depending on the day of the week, it is often a day when football matches are played in the professional leagues and many people go to watch their team play. Notably, for Catholics, it is one of the main Holy Days of Obligation.

Other traditions include carol singing, where many carols are sung by children on people's doorsteps and by professional choirs, and sending Christmas cards.
In public, there are decorations and lights in most shops, especially in town centres, and even in Indian and Chinese restaurants.
Churches and cathedrals across the country hold masses, with many people going to midnight mass or a service on Christmas morning.

Even though church attendance has been falling over the decades some people who do not go to church often think it is still important to go at Christmas, so Church attendance increases.
Most theatres have a tradition of putting on a Christmas pantomime for children.

The pantomime stories are traditionally based on popular children's stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and Aladdin, rather than being directly concerned with Christmas as such, although there is sometimes a link. Television is widely watched: for many television channels,Christmas Day is the most important day of the year in terms of ratings.
Many Britons still watch the Queen's annual Christmas message.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN SCOTLAND

Christmas in Scotland was traditionally observed very quietly, because the Church of Scotland – a Presbyterian Church – for various reasons never placed much emphasis on the Christmas festival.

Christmas Day was commonly a normal working day in Scotland until the 1960s and even into the 1970s in some areas.
The New Year's Eve festivity, Hogmanay, was by far the largest celebration in Scotland.
The gift-giving, public holidays and feasting associated with mid-winter were traditionally held between the 11th of December and 6 January.

However, since the 1980s, the fading of the Church's influence and the increased influences from the rest of the UK and elsewhere, Christmas and its related festivities are now nearly on a par with Hogmanay and "Ne'erday".
The capital city of Edinburgh has a traditional German market from late November until Christmas Eve.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN UNITED STATES AND CANADA

Christmas is a widely-celebrated and festive holiday in the United States and Canada irrespective of religion. The Christmas holiday season begins in end of November and ends in beginning of January.

The Christmas traditions are the most similar to those in England but have their own distinct style.
The celebration of the sacrosanct nature of "home and hearth" is associated with the tradition of Christmas.
The interior and exterior of the home is decorated during the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve.

Christmas tree cultivation in the United States and Christmas tree production in Canada provide families with trees for their homes including the White House Christmas tree. Artificial Christmas trees may be substituted for real trees.
The tree stands centrally in the home, decorated with ornaments, tinsel and lights, with an angel or a star symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem at the top.

Christmas Eve is popularly and appropriately described as the night before Christmas in the poem called "A Visit from St. Nicholas".
Better known as Santa Claus (occasionally still referred to as Father Christmas), he is said to visit homes while children are sleeping during the night before Christmas morning.

The chimney is now called the fireplace and may in some homes be an electric version but the Yule log in the firebox has remained a tradition.
Christmas stockings are hung on the mantelpiece for Santa Claus to fill with little gifts ("stocking stuffers").
It is tradition throughout the United States and Canada, for children to leave a glass of milk and plate of Christmas cookies for Santa Claus nearby and a carrot or oats for the reindeer.

Children are told the true story of a little girl named Virginia, whose 1897 letter to The Sun (a New York newspaper), inspired the now-famous editorial response, titled "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus". NORAD tracks Santa's sleigh on its journey across Canada and the United States.

The traditional Christmas dinner usually features either roasted turkey with stuffing (sometimes called dressing), ham, or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Potatoes, squash, roasted vegetables and cranberry sauce are served along with tonics and sherry. Mince pies, plum pudding and Christmas cake are served in Canada as Christmas desserts.

A variety of sweet pastry and egg nog sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg are served in the United States. Certain dishes such as casseroles and desserts are prepared with a family recipe (usually kept a secret). Fruits, nuts, cheeses and chocolates are enjoyed as snacks.

Other traditions include a special church service on the Sunday before Christmas and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Candlelight services are held earlier in the evening for families with children.
A re-enactment of the Nativity of Jesus called a Nativity play is another tradition.

In the Canadian province of Quebec and other French-speaking areas of North America, Christmas traditions include réveillon, Père Noël ("Father Christmas") and the bûche de Noël (Yule log), among others. Christmas crackers are another tradition throughout Canada.

The observation of Boxing Day (which coincides with the Christian Feast of St. Stephen) on the day after Christmas Day, December 26, is a tradition practiced in Canada, as it is in the other Commonwealth Realms, although not in the United States.

The Royal Christmas Message from Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada is televised nationwide in Canada, the occasion being an observance which unites Canadians with citizens of the other Commonwealth Realms worldwide.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY IN NEW ZEALAND

Christmas Day and Boxing Day are statutory holidays in New Zealand.
Many of New Zealand's Christmas traditions are similar to those of Australia in that they are a mix of United Kingdom and North American traditions conducted in summer.

New Zealand celebrates Christmas with traditional Northern-hemisphere winter imagery, and the traditional Christmas tree is standard.
The traditional symbols of the holly and the ivy are sometimes replaced by the Pōhutukawa tree.
This blossoms in late December and is thus often called the "New Zealand Christmas tree".
Children in New Zealand are told of the surreptitious visit of Father Christmas to leave presents.

Traditional winter-styled hot roast food is served for Christmas dinner and Christmas crackers are pulled before eating.
Traditional Christmas desserts of Christmas pudding, trifle, Christmas cake and mince pies are consumed, along with the traditional dessert of pavlova. House decoration is common, usually featuring strings of lights on domestic exteriors.
Store chain The Warehouse hosts a competition to find the best-decorated house of the year.

Several Christmas themed parades are held in New Zealand. The most popular is Auckland's Santa Parade down Queen Street.
This features numerous floats and marching bands and attracts large crowds every year. It is held late November to accommodate holidaymakers and is seen as the preamble to the later festivities.

The Australian tradition of Carols by Candlelight is popular in New Zealand, especially in Auckland and Christchurch, where there is usually a large outdoor carol-singing gathering known as Christmas in the park.

As with Australia, the watching of television is not a strong part of New Zealand Christmas traditions.
Some Christmas-specific programmes are usually shown, usually a mix of religious programmes and the Christmas specials of regular television series (often UK and US series).
No advertising is allowed on New Zealand television or radio on Christmas Day, a rule that also applies on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The Queen's Christmas message is broadcast at around 7:00pm on Christmas evening.

CHRISTMAS PRAYERS

In every part of our Christmas days, joyful or otherwise, we can turn to God in prayer. These are suggested prayers for a variety of situations.
Use them or create prayers from your own heart to meet your own needs.

PRAYER BEFORE CHRISTMAS DINNER

God of all gifts, we thank you for the many ways you have blessed us this day.

We are grateful each of those who are gathered around this table. We ask you to bless us and our food and to bless those we love who are not with us today.

In our gratitude and love, we remember your humble birth into our lives and pray for those who are are without enough to eat.

We remember the stable in which you were born and pray for those who have no place to live.

We remember your challenging message of caring and giving and we pray for peace in families and nations throughout the world.

We bless you and give you thanks in your Spirit who brings our hearts to life the Christmas Day and forever. Amen.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS AFTER THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE

God of compassion, there is such a hole in my heart!
Today should be a day of joy, but I feel only the emptiness and loss of someone so beloved.

While the world celebrates around me, I remember Christmas celebrations of the past and I long to have my loved one with me.

I bring my sorrows to you, Lord, like some odd gift of the magi and dump them at your feet.

In my blind tears I wonder if anyone can possibly understand the depth of my sadness. Yes, you can.

You sent your son to be with us in our deepest sorrows and I know that even though I might not feel it at this minute, you are here with me, grieving with me, caring for me in my sadness and loving me.

Dearest lord, help me to turn to the one I miss so much today and speak.

Help me heal the loss of our parting and help me not to regret the things I didn't say.

Sorrow tears at my heart, but today I ask that my loss soften my heart and make me more compassionate with everyone I meet.

ADVENT WREATH

The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church.
The Advent Wreath is traditionally a Lutheran practice, albeit it has spread to many other Christian denominations.

It is usually a horizontal evergreen wreath with four candles and often, a fifth, white candle in the center.
Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading and prayers.

An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Some Advent wreaths include a fifth, "Christ" candle which can be lit at Christmas.
The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services.

In Catholic churches, the most popular colours for the Advent candles are purple and rose.
In the Western church, purple is the historic liturgical color for three of the four Sundays of Advent: once the color associated with royalty, it symbolizes Christ as the "Prince of Peace."
Rose is the color for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday from the Latin word "rejoice".

Gaudete Sunday anticipates the joy of the Christmas celebration, so its color is a mixture of Advent purple and Christmas white. It may also symbolize the color of early dawn.

In Protestant churches it is more common to use four red candles (reflecting their traditional use in Christmas decorations) because rose vestments and decorations are not commonly used in Protestant churches.

Blue is also a popular alternative color for both Advent vestments and Advent candles, especially in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. This is in keeping with the liturgical seasons; blue means hope and waiting, which aligns with the seasonal meaning of Advent.

Other variations of the Advent wreath add a white candle in the center to symbolize Christmas, sometimes known as the "Christ candle."
It can be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. White is the traditional festal color in the Western church.
Four red candles with one white one is probably the most common arrangement in Protestant churches in Britain.

But for many people, the holidays can be filled with unrealistic expectations. Old hurts are sometimes revisited and new ones inflicted.
Hope can go deferred and result in heartsickness (Proverbs 13:12). In the midst of the tinsel and lights and shopping, let's remember what the season is really about!
Let's pray for a spirit of all things Christmas for ourselves and our loved ones.

CHRISTMAS DINNER PRAYER

We hope that the following words will provide spiritual comfort and inspiration. Remember that these online, inspirational words can be printed and used to create a personalised Prayer Book.

GRATITUDE FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER

In the peace of this dinner our spirits are joyful:
With the beasts and angels,
the shepherds and stars,
with Mary and Joseph we sing God's praise.
By your coming year our souls be filled with good things,
and may our table and home be blessed.
Bless us O Lord, and these Thy gifts,
which we are about to receive from Thy bounty
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

CHRISTMAS DINNER PRAYER

God of all gifts, we thank you for the many ways you have blessed us this day.

We are grateful each of those who are gathered around this table.

We ask you to bless us and our food and to bless those we love who are not with us today.

In our gratitude and love, we remember your humble birth into our lives and pray for those who are are without enough to eat.

We remember the stable in which you were born and pray for those who have no place to live.

We remember your challenging message of caring and giving and we pray for peace in families and nations throughout the world.

We bless you and give you thanks in your Spirit who brings our hearts to life the Christmas Day and forever. Amen.

SEEKING PEACE AND HARMONY FOR OUR SOUL IN CHRISTMAS TIME

Christmas is a glorious time of year! God brings us face to face once again with His design for and redemption of mankind.
His intentions toward us are for life live abundantly.
His plans for the kingdom are victorious!
Let´s praise God with our prayers, and let us give thanks for all things he give us everyday, and specially en Christmas time.

It is very useful for the body and the soul, think about it carefully each day of December and so arrive at Christmas time, with a spirit full of God.
Take each day a word, eg: LOVE, look in the Bible and reflect on it.
It finds much peace and happiness. Do not let of practise it.

1. LOVE - Lord, help us follow the way of love - let the love of Christ compel us (1 Corinthians 14:1; 2 Corinthians 5:14).

2. JOY - Restore the joy of Your salvation to us; let us experience the joy of Your presence (Psalm 51:12; 16:11).

3. PEACE - Let Your peace rule and guard our hearts; give us more of You - You are our peace (Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:7; Ephesians 2:14).

4. HOPE - Enlighten the eyes of our heart so that we may know the hope You called us to (Ephesians 1:18).

5. FAVOR - Let Your favor rest on us (Luke 2:52).

6. LIFE - Shine Your light of life on us; help us to walk in it (Job 33:30; Psalm 56:13).

7. SALVATION - Help us to fear You so we can unlock the treasure of Your salvation (Isaiah 33:6).

8. SELFLESSNESS - Keep us from self-seeking attitudes that reject truth (Romans 2:8).

9. GENEROSITY - Make us rich in ways that result in generosity on our part so You will be praised (2 Corinthians 9:11).

10. RECEIVING - Help us receive Your kingdom, Your Spirit, and Your grace (Daniel 7:18; John 20:22; Romans 5:17).

11. SEEKING - Encourage us to seek Your face with all our hearts (Deuteronomy 4:29; Psalm 27:8).

12. PRAISE - We ascribe glory to Your name, Lord; we come before You in worship for You are holy (1 Chronicles 16:28-29).

HOW WILL BE CHRISTMAS IN YOUR HOUSE THIS YEAR?

Remember Christmas is Jesus's birth, we must remember to him. If you do it, will be best Christmas you ever had spent.

We can start singing: "Bless the Lord, O My Soul" we are praising Him with the blessings He puts in our lives.
This Christmas, as we exchange gifts blessing others, and in turn are blessed ourselves, remember to give praise to God, from Whom all blessings flow!

LOOK FOR WISDOM, IS FOR EVER

Wisdom from the Wise Men - The Magi.
The Bible encourages each of us when it says that:
"getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
And whatever else you do, develop good judgment." (Proverbs 4:7)

It would seem then that we would all want to become as wise as we could, and to use the best judgment in every situation in which we are found.

It recently said that only men could possibly bring gifts like the "Magi" brought to Jesus.
They said that if it were women doing the giving, the gifts would have been far more useful and appropriate, easier for Joseph and Mary to transport, and would have been beautifully wrapped!

It can't really make any meaningful comments on that - but I can say that the Magi - the Wise men - most surely demonstrated great wisdom in their actions as they went to visit the newborn King of Kings.
In fact, there are four very specific areas that not only prove their wise actions, but more importantly, serve as examples of wisdom that each of us should be using in our own life!

JESUS WALKED OUT OF HEAVEN AND HE HUMBLED HIMSELF

He came from splendor to be born in poverty. He left the presence of angels, for the company of me.
He laid down a scepter in heaven to be laid in a manger, and exchanged the worship of Arch-angels, for the praise of lowly shepherds.

He walked into the world with all the power of Almighty God at his bidding, but He was carried out a mutilated body lowered from a cross.

He rebuked the pious, but He comforted the sinner.
He refused earthly Kingship, although He was still a King. He loved His mother yet gave her away at the Cross.
He healed the broken-hearted, yet He himself, died with a broken heart.

He loved the fellowship of friends, yet was cast out by His kinsmen. He rebuked both sage and seer, and then blessed the little children.
He held an executive meeting on the Mount of Transfiguration, then wept alone in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He could walk on water, but could not walk away from the tears in the eyes of the Widow from Nain.
He could command the stars in their orbits, but he refused to change the circumstances of His own execution.
His mission was a commitment to free all men, yet He was imprisoned on the testimony of one man.

He delivered many from pain, but He was delivered to suffer agonizing pain.
He dried the eyes of multitudes, but no one dried His eyes in Gethsemane.
He carried the burdens of the world, but only one was brought forth to help Him bear His Cross to Calvary.

His execution was thought to be insignificant, but became the controversy of the ages.
His life was extinguished in a brief second of time, but then ignited to lighten the world.
His short span of thirty-three years on Earth should have passed unnoted were it possible, but no one life has ever had such impact on the minds of men.

He was in the public's eye and was brief indeed, but His achievements are the greatest ever recorded.

He has inspired more men, conquered more hearts, delivered more prisoners, consoled more mourners, than any figure in the history of man.
He spoke of love, but was murdered with hate.

He shared all that he had, and then on the Cross...He shared paradise with a thief.
He gave the World light, only to be driven into the cavern of Death.
He gave mankind guidance, only to be guided to Golgotha.
He pointed men to the Tree of Life, and they nailed Him to a tree on a hill called the Skull.
He laid down a scepter in heaven, to be laid in a borrowed tomb.

He walked out of heaven, pure, perfect, and beautiful.
He returned beaten, mutilated, and nail scarred.

He fulfilled all that was written of Him, and yet man did not believe Him.
His coming changed the course of nations; His return will be to judge the nations.
His title was simple as stated on the Cross, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," but to those who have ever known Him, He is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

Dear brother, knowing all this what Jesus did for us by coming this world, don´t you feel wish love him each day a little more?.
Think about it carefully. Jesus loves you deeply!

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR CHRISTMAS

1. Thou shalt prepare early. Don't wait until the last minute to get into the Christmas spirit.

2. Thou shalt keep Christ at the center of Christmas. Don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the commercialism of the season.
Resolve to read one of the Gospels during December.
Mediate upon what it means that Christ came into the world.

3. Thou shalt make Christmas a family time.
Do things together: Decorate the tree, play games, bake cookies, shop, write cards, have devotionals, go caroling, attend church together and hear mass, and make the communion.

4. Thou shalt remember those who are less fortunate. Contribute significantly to an organization serving the needs of others throughout the year.
Give a Christmas gift to your needy brother.

5. Thou shalt give thyself with every gift.
Put some thought into the gifts you purchase. Give a gift that represents you. If possible, make something instead of buying something.

6. Thou shalt learn to be a good receiver. Many of us have trouble receiving graciously and gracefully.

7. Thou shalt put music into Christmas. Buy several Christmas CD's.
Attend church choir cantatas and special Christmas programs. Sing carols with loved ones.

8. Thou shalt slow down. Remember: Christmas is supposed to be a season of peace, not hypertension.

9. Thou shalt remember to worship. The church is the place you are most likely to be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas, that´s why make a confession and communion.

10. Thou shalt receive Christ into thy life. Don't just talk about the Christ of Christmas, receive him into your life as Lord and Savior.

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