A brief introduction to: Why do we celebrate Christmas in Australia?
Christmas is celebrated each year on the 25th of December. It is a sacred and religious holiday for Christians across the world and a global cultural phenomenon – so much so that countless movies and tunes have been made to commemorate the festive events taking place at the end of the year.
If you’ve ever wondered “Why do we celebrate Christmas every year?” or “Why do we celebrate Christmas in Australia?” – then you’re certainly going to enjoy reading through this insightful piece.
Christians all across the world spread love and joy on Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of the Virgin Mary. It’s a day when people observe many customs such as decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, sharing meals, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive to grant the kids their wishes, helping out the needy and less fortunate, and so on.
An interesting fun fact: Christmas Day (December 25) wasn’t declared a public holiday in the US until 1870. And this is when the custom spread to other countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK.
The above answer to “Christmas – why is it celebrated?” is oversimplified to a great degree. In order to fully understand “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”, we need to delve into history and see how it all started. It would certainly make for a very interesting story to tell your kids on Christmas Eve when everyone is huddled cosily around the fireplace.
Why do we celebrate Christmas every year? The facts
Christmas: why is it celebrated and how did it start? Let’s shed light on some facts:
The middle of winter has long been regarded as a time of celebration in many parts of the world. Centuries before Jesus Christ was born, the early Europeans would celebrate light and birth in winter’s darkest days.
People rejoiced during the winter solstice, because the worst of the harsh winter season was behind them. This gave them a reason to celebrate because longer days and long hours of sunlight were ahead.
In Scandinavia, the Norse would celebrate Yule (winter solstice) from the 21st December through to January. In recognition of and sheer joy from the returning sun, fathers and sons would gather large logs, and everyone would feast until the logs burned down completely, which often took up to 12 days.
The end of December was regarded as the perfect time for celebration and festivities in many areas of Europe. During the same time, cattle were slaughtered to remove the burden communities had to carry to keep them fed during winter. In fact, for many groups and communities, this was the only time of year when they could enjoy fresh meat. Also, a fair amount of beer and wine was fermented during this time, ready to be had for the winter festivities.
In Rome, a region where winters were not as bitter cold as they were in the far north, Saturnalia was celebrated – a holiday to honour the god of agriculture, Saturn. At the start of the week right before the winter solstice and continuing for a month, Saturnalia was a time when food and drink were in abundance and the usual Roman social order was flipped upside down. Throughout the month, enslaved people became masters and peasants were at the helm of town affairs. Even businesses and schools remained closed so that everyone could have a jolly good time.
Around winter solstice, the Romans also observed Junenalia: a feast to honour Rome’s children. Additionally, members of the upper classes would celebrate Mithra’s birthday on December 25, god of the unconquerable sun. This was a time many Romans believe to be the most sacred day in the entire year.
Closing thoughts on Christmas: Why is it celebrated?
The exact year and date on which Jesus Christ was born isn’t very well known. But one thing is for sure: whenever you celebrate Christmas with your family and loved ones and wonder “Why do we celebrate Christmas in Australia?” – remember, that you’re not just celebrating any day. You’re celebrating the birth of a historic event which took place nearly 2,000 years ago, when God sent down Jesus as a mercy for all of mankind!