Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holidays in this season...Part Two Christmas

 Cape Fear Community College Musicians performing at the Cotton Exchange
Six days away...people scurrying through shops...visiting friends...wrapping gifts...baking cookies...finding family recipes...shipping last minute...fighting traffic...singing carols...writing cards...packing suitcases...throwing parties...watching football...stressing out 
take time to understand...

reprinted from wikipedia

Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday, celebrated on December 25, and commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas is central to the Christmas and holiday season, and in Christianity marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days.  The remembrance and re-enactment of the Nativity in the Christian celebration of Christmas signifies the belief that Jesus is the "Christ" or Messiah promised by the Old Testament. The main religious celebration among members of the Catholic Church and other Christian groups is the Church service at midnight on Christmas Eve or on the morning of Christmas Day. During the forty days leading up to Christmas, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the nativity Fast, while the majority of Christian congregations (including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, many Mainline churches, and Baptists) begin observing the liturgical season of Advent four Sundays before Christmas—both are seen as times of spiritual cleansing, recollection and renewal to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Christmastide is one of the seasons of the liturgical year of most Christian churches. It tends to be defined (with slight variations) as the period from Christmas Eve to the evening of January 5th, the day before Epiphany. This period is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, as referred to in the Christmas carol of the same name, or Yuletide, as in "Deck the Halls".
In the Church of England, however, Christmastide includes Epiphany and ends at Candlemas in early February, which celebrates the Presentation of Jesus Christ at the Temple. This is in keeping with the traditional liturgical significance of Forty Days. In the Roman Catholic Church, since Vatican II in the early 1960s, the Christmas season runs a shorter period, from Christmas Eve evening to the Sunday after Epiphany, the commemoration of the Baptism of the Lord, after which Ordinary Time begins.
During the season, various festivities are traditionally enjoyed and buildings decorated. In some countries, by superstition it has become bad luck to leave the decorations up after Twelfth Night.
Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of greeting cards, church, celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, and garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, Father Christmas (known as Santa Claus in some areas, including North America, Australia and Ireland) is a popular mythological figure in many countries, associated with the bringing of gifts for children.