Christmas, A Most Jolly Time Of Year!
Written by: Denny Liu
Christmas, a much anticipated holiday for many people across the world, is coming up in just a week!
Christmas, typically observed on the 25th of December, and is an annual Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas has been celebrated for over 2000 years by Christians, but since then, it has also become a major cultural phenomenon integrated into modern society as an official holiday in many parts of the world. There are two theories for why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th specifically. The first theory centers around the "officially accepted" date Jesus Christ's conception by the Western Church, March 25th. With December 25th being exactly 9 months after his conception, it is celebrated as the assumed date of his birth. Others believe that Christmas may have been celebrated around this time due to the many different celebrations in the past, such as Saturnalia, a Roman celebration of Saturn, the god of agriculture.
Not everyone celebrates Christmas on the 25th, however, some branches of Christianity, such as Orthodox Christians, choose to celebrate on January 7th, which is the date described in the Christian Bible. This date is based on the Julian Calendar, which is 13 days behind the modern Gregorian Calendar, which is the calendar used in most parts of the world.
Regardless of when Christmas is celebrated, in today's world, anybody can participate in the Christmas cheer. Today, Christmas is a massive holiday celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians alike. With such a diverse population of people celebrating the holiday, Christmas can be celebrated in many different ways. A few general themes consistent amongst these celebrations include: a gathering with friends and family, eating delicious food, the exchange of gifts, and for religious folk, the recital of prayer.
In Canada, some classic traditional Christmas foods include stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberries, apple cider, and eggnog! Other common traditions include attending midnight mass (church), decorating the Christmas tree, exchanging Christmas cards, opening presents on Christmas morning, singing your favorite Christmas carols, watching your favorite Christmas movies, and attending a Santa Claus parade or lights festival (which may be cancelled this year, however). Sometimes, people also like to incorporate games such as Secret Santa or White Elephant into their gift exchanges to mix things up. Lastly, hanging a Christmas wreath on your door is another popular tradition, which symbolizes growth and everlasting life.
A couple of students were kind to share their perspective on Christmas, what it means to them and their family, and how they celebrate the occasion. For Alyssa, a second-year student in Health Science, Christmas is an important time spent with both sides of the family. On Christmas Eve, Alyssa's family likes to order sushi, watch a nice movie by the fire and wear Christmas pajamas to bed. While on Christmas Day, they enjoy exchanging red envelopes (which signify happiness and good fortune) and a nice dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and beans! On Boxing Day, their family enjoy a mix of both Eastern and Western foods, such as turkey, potatoes, BBQ pork, and saifun noodles.
For Xi Zhang, a fourth-year student studying Biology, Christmas is also an important time spent with family. Xi Zhang's family will celebrate by shopping together in the mall and getting together at someone's home or a restaurant like the Mandarin or 168 Sushi for a cheerful celebration. Roses are an important symbol during this occasion, and the color and quantity of the rose(s) can have different meanings! For example, a single rose can signify love at first sight, a red rose means romance and beauty, and a white rose can show signs of dignity and loyalty. A number of young people also prefer having their wedding ceremonies during this time to celebrate the freedom and romance of love.
For both Alyssa and Xi Zhang, they will be incorporating more virtual greetings, through Zoom and FaceTime, to celebrate the occasion instead of getting together in-person. While Christmas may be different for everyone this year, we hope that you'll be able to get the time to relax and bring out your holiday spirit!
This blog is a collaboration with International Connections, a blog run by the IESC here at Western. Check out their blog and give some of their posts a read!