What is Christmas?
Christmas is the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth.
Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to be born. His birth brought great joy to the world. Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement of knowing about this great event. They knew this was no ordinary baby. The prophets had told of His coming hundreds of years before. The star stopped over Bethlehem just to mark the way for those who were looking for this special child.
Luke 2:4-19 says:
"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (NIV)
When Did it Start?
The traditional date of December 25 goes back as far as A.D. 273.
Why do we use the date of December 25th for Christmas?
Two pagan festivals honoring the sun were also celebrated on that day and it is possible that December 25 was chosen to counteract the influence of paganism.
Also, March 25 is the date accepted by the Western Church as the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb. December 25 is 9 months later and thus celebrated as the birthday of Jesus.
The church calendar was set in the West during Constantine’s reign while the Eastern Church held onto the date of January 6 for some time.
For centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world, beginning with this day, December 24, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening, as Moses had written: "An evening and a morning were the first day."
Click here to read some interesting Christmas trivia.
Christmas is A Federal Holiday
In the United States, a federal holiday is an authorized holiday which has been recognized by the US government.
Every year on a U.S. federal holiday, non-essential federal government offices are closed, stock market trading is usually suspended, and every federal employee is paid for the holiday.
Private-sector employees required to work on a legal holiday may receive holiday pay in addition to their ordinary wages.
Federal holidays are designated by the United States Congress in Title V of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. § 6103).
Congress has authority to create holidays only for federal institutions (including federally owned properties) and employees, and for the District of Columbia.
However, as a general rule, other institutions including banks, post offices, and schools, may be closed on those days.
In various parts of the country, state and city holidays may be observed in addition to the federal holidays.
There are 10 Federal holidays:
- January 1 (Fixed) New Years Day
- January 15–21 (Floating Monday) Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- February 15–21 (Floating Monday) Washington's Birthday
- May 25–31 (Floating Monday) Memorial Day
- July 4 (Fixed) Independence Day
- September 1-7 (Floating Monday) Labor Day
- October 8–14 (Floating Monday) Columbus Day
- November 11 (Fixed) Veterans Day
- November 22–28 (Floating Thursday) Thanksgiving Day
- December 25 (Fixed) Christmas Day
S.J.Buma, Dec. 2019