24

Word origin As stated in previous answers, the "X" in "Xmas" comes from the Greek word for Christ, Χριστός. However, since precision is important, I want to clarify when the abbreviation was first used in English. The 1511 date comes from the Oxford English Dictionary entry for ''Xmas'', which reads: 1551 in E. Lodge Illustr. Brit. Hist. (1791) I. 145 ...


22

This is a good recent blog post covering Pope Benedict's thoughts on the matter. The key is the date set for the annunciation (March 25th): Traditionally held to be the first day of creation Traditionally held to be the date when Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac after a 3 day journey to Mount Moriah Extrapolated to be the date of Jesus' annunciation (when ...


19

Great Britain monks used "X" for "Christ" nearly a thousand years ago. They used "X" for "Christ" while transcribing manuscripts in Old English. They did so because the Greek word for Christ, ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, begins with the letters "chi" (or “X”) and "rho" (or "P"). And the monks used either "X" or "XP" in writing as an abbreviation for "Christ." The first ...


18

"Chronograph" 1 – a document dating to 354 AD 2 in Rome: This was a list of martyrs and their birth dates, and a list of bishops of Rome and their birth dates. The Chronograph lists these dates (birth dates) in calendar order. The first date listed is the "8th of Kalens of January" ("Kalens" is used to refer to the first of a month – putting a number in ...


16

Attitudes on birthdays In the early church, birthdays (in general) were not seen as something to celebrate. For example, in Origen's 8th homily on Leviticus he writes: But the saints not only do not celebrate a festival on their birth days, but, filled with the Holy Spirit, they curse that day. According to an article by Andrew McGowan (Bible Review, ...


13

The advent wreath is an evergreen wreath with four candles. One is rose (pink) and the other three are purple. Before lighting any candles on the wreath you should bless the wreath on the first Sunday of Advent. Make the Sign of the Cross 1 The Father or head of the household then prays "Our help is in the name of the Lord." The family then responds "Who ...


11

Keep in mind that there is no “official” or “correct” way to pray the Rosary. The Rosary is just a devotion, and if someone prays it, he should do so in the way that is most helpful to him. However, it is recommended that the mysteries contemplated should correspond the liturgical calendar. For example (as the O.P. asks), it would seem fitting to pray the ...


10

The exact day for the birth of Jesus is not known. You can find a lot of info on Wikipedia, with references. The most interesting for this question might be: The precise day of Jesus' birth, which some historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown. In the early-to-mid 4th century, Western Christianity first placed Christmas on December 25, a date ...


9

In Persia is the city called Saveh, from which the three Magi set out when they came to worship Jesus Christ. Here, too, they lie buried in three sepulchres of great size and beauty. Above each sepulchre is a square building with a domed roof of very fine workmanship. The one is just beside the other. Their bodies are still whole, and they have hair and ...


9

Well, there certainly isn't anything in the Bible about it, for the simple reason that there isn't anything in the Bible about celebrating Christmas in the first place. (Not to mention electricity!) However, hanging or holding up lanterns to provide festive illumination after dark for festivals or celebrations is an ancient custom in many cultures, dating ...


8

Why should Christmas be meant to replace anything? The liturgical year is riddled with merriment, every other day is a feast or a solemnity or at least an observance of some pious memorial. Other than to denounce Christ or the Churches that keep Christmas, there is no reason to conflate some pagan festivity no one cares about with Christmas. If there ...


8

The Book of Mormon does not have a "story of Christmas" in the same sense as the Bible does, because it was not set in the land of Israel (except for the very beginning of the book.) Therefore, there is no coverage of the birth of the baby Jesus and the events surrounding it. It does, however, repeatedly prophesy of the coming of the Savior, that he would ...


8

The complete text of the carol can be found here. It seems that of the five verses, only verse one and three are included in the (english) Hymnbook (linked by OP). This specific verse seems of rather trinitarian thought, that may be a reason. Seeing that two other verses have also been omitted: Come, Desire of nations, come, Fix in us Thy humble home; ...


8

I generally agree with another answer and comments that “modern translations are better”, but I will elaborate a bit on how the variant translations came about. The Hebrew of interest: כְּתֹ֨מֶר מִקְשָׁ֥ה הֵ֙מָּה֙ kətōmer miqšâ hēmmâ They [the idols] are like a tōmer of a miqšâ Both tōmer and miqšâ are somewhat obscure. Tōmer appears only here in the ...


7

From Wikipedia: The Christmas season immediately follows Advent. The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas begin with Christmas Eve on the evening of December 24 and continue until the feast of Epiphany. The actual Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which in the present form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on the Sunday ...


7

If Christians were left to celebrating sacred events on days where no other pagan celebration has ever occurred, there would be no days available for Christian celebrations. So, on a day where some people at a certain time celebrated the birth of a god that never existed, Christians (Catholic and Protestant) choose to celebrate the birth of Jesus the ...


7

The earliest reference I can find is Justin Martyr (c. 100 – 165 AD) who wrote in Dialog With Trypho: But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger. (1)


7

This is a good question and has a simple answer. Nativity scenes are intended to be representations of Jesus birth, not a historically accurate depiction. In other words they are there to remind us of the important elements of the birth, not to be a photorealistic documentary. Therefore the shepherds, the wise men, angels are all included because they were ...


7

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the (Hebrew) Old Testament and was completed by 132 BC. As the Old Testament contains many references to an "anointed one" (transliterated to English as "Messiah"), the decision by the (Jewish) translators to translate this word to the Greek "Christos" would have been driven by the need to find the nearest equivalent ...


7

The Cherry Tree Carol is thought to date to the 16th or 17th century. The history of its development is murky, but it may be traced to a 15th century Coventry play1 and beyond that to the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, a 7th century apocryphal work describing the birth and childhood of Jesus. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, which titles itself The Birth of the ...


7

Yes, Mormons generally celebrate the birth of Christ on the traditional day of Christmas, December 25. They never said there was scriptural basis for this date; the specific day of the year is not important to them.


6

I believe that Dr. Richard P. Bucher provides an excellent analysis of this question. Luke 2:1-3 specifically states the purpose of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem (Roman census ordered by Caesar Augustus). And, from extra-biblical sources, we know that Augustus ordered a census in 27 BC, 8 BC, and 14 AD. So 8 BC seems the most reasonable answer ...


6

Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas because of the pagan origins of many of our current customs. They cover this in several articles on their site. A search of their site returns many. They also reject several other holidays, citing similar reasons. Several other denominations have similar beliefs, and even within denominations that largely ...


6

I've heard a few different things. You're right though: it's not in canonized scripture. The idea of "three" wise men is only (mostly unimportant, but interesting) tradition. The enumeration of three specific gifts contributes to the "trio" of persons. Their alledged names even appear in writings later in history. Dr. Talmage remarks on this in his ...


6

Part of the reason seems to have been wanting to minimize the drive to direct the Messiah toward worldly goals. Many people wanted a worldly king, e.g., John 6:15 (NIV): Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again into the hills by himself. and there was a desire for "bread and circuses" (well full stomachs and ...


6

The basis for the belief that there were twelve Magi (or more) is a very obscure, apocryphal manuscript called The Revelation of The Magi that was discovered in a Turkish monastery in the 18th century. This Syriac manuscript can be found in the Zuqnin Chronicle (1) and the Opus Imperfectum in Matthaeum (2) and currently resides with The Vatican (Biblioteca ...


6

The Greek letter Χ <"chi"> is the first letter in the word Χριστός < Christ >. It was often used in the past for easier transcription of scripture (from Greek to English). There is nothing wrong with using it, but the common mortal on the street most likely does not know its origin. Just use "Christmas".


6

As an addition to Matt's correct answer, to see how LDS Church leaders talk about Christmas one can visit "Christmas" under the Gospel Topics on www.lds.org. The current Church President, Thomas S. Monson, is quoted on the website: When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will ...


5

Potential dup (or near question) Why is Christmas on December 25th? Regardless, the information there (and in its sources) help form an answer to your question. December has carried significant "spiritual" weight throughout humanity, probably attached to the Winter Solstice. In addition to the things that you've mentioned, the traditional date for the ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible