For adults and children alike, Christmas Day is the most anticipated day of the year, widely associated with warm family gatherings, a glorious meal, and presents.
IT’S a time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have and share.
But the traditions surrounding December 25 have evolved over the centuries and differ significantly from the first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on this particular day in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine.
The name ‘Christmas’ derives from the Mass of Christ, a service where Christians remember Jesus dying and coming back to life.But the Bible doesn’t give a date for the birth of Jesus, so where did it come from?
There are many theories, but a very early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby, Jesus (called the Annunciation) was on March 25 – and it’s still celebrated today on March 25.
Nine months after March 25 is December 25!
Fast forward and Christmas Day is a public holiday in many countries worldwide and celebrated by billions.
And there are plenty of weird and wonderful traditions around the world, including the turkey dinner which takes centre stage of the table in Britain.
With origins in Mexico, the first turkeys were brought to Britain by William Strickland in 1526. It was very fashionable in high society in the late 19th century and enjoyed very much by Henry VIII.
It used to take a week’s wages to buy a turkey so it was a luxury until the 1950’s when they became more widely available.
Around 76 per cent of families in the UK will serve up a roast turkey.
While in Spain, the main family meal is eaten on Christmas Eve ‘Nochebuena’, seafood is the traditional choice, which is also enjoyed on December 25.
In contrast, the main meal in Norway is normally pork or mutton ribs served with ‘surkal’ (white or red cabbage, finely chopped and cooked with caraway seeds and vinegar) and potatoes.
The day begins in many countries with the much-anticipated exchange of gifts – though countries such as Germany do this on Christmas Eve – and for millions a Christmas Mass service.
In Italy, one of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas is the Nativity crib scene. Using a Nativity scene to help tell the Christmas story was made popular by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 (Assisi is in mid-Italy).
The previous year he had visited Bethlehem and saw where it was thought that Jesus was born. A lot of Italian families have a Nativity scene in their homes.
But it’s not exclusive to Italy, the Nativity scene symobolises the essence of Christmas in many countries, along with the Christmas tree, Yule Log and Carol singing.
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