mercyym.jpgIt’s Christmas time again. Most people are moving up and down, buying this and that, all in preparation for the Christmas Day. But what is Christmas?

 

To many, Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, usually celebrated on December 25 as a religious and cultural holiday by many people around the world.

On this day, many people dress etiquettely and eat a variety and lots of delicious food.

 

Being a religious day for Christians, what’s surprising is that in many countries around the world, Christmas is a civil holiday, and is now being celebrated by Christians and an increasing number of non-Christians.

The day, December 25 is questionable because it seems no-one really knows when Jesus Christ was born. It is believed the precise day of Jesus’ birth, which historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown. It is only in the early-to-mid 4th century, when the Western Christian Church first placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East.

Whilst in Africa, including Zimbabwe people celebrate Christmas on December 25, the original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6.

As of 2011, there is a difference of 13 days between the Julian calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar. Those who use the Julian calendar or its equivalent, thus celebrate December 25 and January 6. For this reason, Ethiopia celebrates Christmas, both as a Christian feast and as a public holiday on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7.

In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration; in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday.

Notable countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and North Korea. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. According to the Bible, Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph in the city of Bethlehem.

According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable.

 

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.” 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.

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.

bells.jpgFor Zimbabweans, Christmas day which is on December 25, is a time of exchanging gifts, cards, chocolates, special meals and merry making.

father christmas.jpgThe towns and cities are heavily decorated with Christmas lights and trees glitter at this time of the year.

Gift-giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others however, exchange gifts on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6, Epiphany.

However, what is amazing is the exchange of gifts by the children with a figure known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas. Why does it have to be Father Christmas? Does he resemble Jesus Christ? Who is he?

Some people feel it’s just a way of making money by the shops and supermarkets who hire him? Some say it’s money-making time by Father Christmas. But where do the shops and supermarkets get the so-called ‘Father Christmas’?

According to research, well-known as Father Christmas in Zimbabwe and Santa Claus in the United States and other nations, Father Christmas is said to wear a bright red suit and is associated with bringing the spirit of good cheer at Christmas.

Father Christmas or simply Santa, has been believed to make a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior (“naughty” or “nice”) and to deliver presents, including toys, and to all the good boys and girls, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve, December 24.

The modern figure was derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas, which, in turn, may have part of its basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of gift giver Saint Nicholas.

Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas”

Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses.

The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

 

In Zimbabwe, come January, many call it ‘January disease’, because many will be broke without a single cent, as they would have spent it all during Christmas. So is it beneficial to celebrate Christmas? Should we celebrate Christmas? Or is it that people just over-spend and forget about the next day? Well, I think we should celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but we should also think about tomorrow.

People should remember that in January schools will open, rentals need to be paid up and food is also needed on the table and to make matters worse, the month of January has 31 days.

As we celebrate this festive season, our budgets should also take into consideration the January expenses.