"Wait, its December already? But didn't the year just start? Oh well, at least there's Christmas and New year's to look forward too." That's pretty much, all of us every year in December. Come December and the vibe of festivities reaches its zenith. And why not, Christmas is just round the corner! Tis' the time to sing the carols and make merry! Tis' the time to bring out the ringing bells, Christmas gifts, delectable savouries, candy canes and indulge in the mouthwatering plum cakes! But before you hop on to the joy ride, here's a quick round up on why the festival has been so significant for billions across the world for over two thousand years.
Significance of Christmas
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated on the 25th of December in most parts of the world. "'Christmas' is said to be a shortened form of "Christ's mass". There are several legends associated with why 25th December was picked as the date of celebrations. December 25 was the date the Romans marked as winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year; it would also mark the beginning of longer days when the Sun would be present for a longer spell in the sky. According to scriptures, Jesus was identified as a form of Sun, who would descend upon earth to eradicate darkness that had begun to shroud it. Some scriptures also state that 25th December was picked because it fell exactly nine months after the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his incarnation on earth. Christmas is the most important festival in the Christian year. It is preceded by the season of advent or the Nativity fast, which initiates the season of Christmastide. The season of holy fasting, lasts for 12 days, and concludes on what is also called the twelfth night.
Also called the Nativity, Christmas primarily stands for one of the biggest turning points in the faith of Christianity - the birth of Jesus. Jesus or the Son of God, was born in a humble stable in Bethlehem to a Virgin Mother Mary. It is said that all the angels present during the blessed event, proclaimed him a savior for all people, carols were sung in his praise and shepherds came to adore him and showered him with gifts.
The Christmas celebrations and feast
Christmas celebrations kickstart weeks before Christmas; from decorating Christmas trees, to buying presents or baking goods and making gingerbread houses, the festive spirit is tough to ignore. On 24th December, poeple visit the church around midnight to attend the Midnight Mass. The day of Christmas is packed with gifts, gatherings and of course the lavish Christmas feast. The special Christmas meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday's celebration, and the food that is served varies from family to family. Turkey, goose, chicken, gravy, fish, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider are a few common staples of a Christmas meal. Special desserts like Christmas pudding, mince pies, fruit cake and plum cake further make the feast all the more memorable for all those present.
Desserts play a significant role in Christmas celebrations. Back in the day, the discovery of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper along with exotic dried fruits helped the rise of popularity of Christmas desserts immensely. And here we are today, unable to imagine Christmas without its signature pies, cookies, plum cakes and puddings.
The preparation of the desserts starts on 'Stir up Sunday' which is celebrated about four to five weeks before Christmas. One of the important customs associated with the Christmas 'Pud' is that it was traditionally prepared with 13 principle ingredients that represent Jesus and his disciplines. Also, every member of the family stirs the pudding from east to west, honouring the three Kings. There is also a tradition of adding rum or brandy to the puddings, which signifies the burning passion of Christianity. Another good luck charm is a Mince pie, a popular British dessert, a pie filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices called "mincemeat". Cinnamon and gingerbread cookies and plum cakes are other most common Christmas desserts that do the rounds around the festivities.
Here's Wishing You All a Merry Christmas 2017!