MCBS Emmaus Retreat Centre, Mallappally
മല്ലപ്പള്ളി ദിവ്യകാരുണ്യ കണ്വെൻഷൻ 2014
Fourth Day – 21st December 2014
Talks by Bro. Pallathu Pappachan
Adoration by Bro. Santhosh Christeen
will be uploaded soon
will be uploaded soon
ഈശോ ഉയിർത്ത പ്പോൾ …. കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി പിളർന്നപ്പോൾ …. വീണ്ടും ജീവിക്കുന്ന യേശുവിനെ കണ്ടപ്പോൾ …. മഗ്ദലേന മറിയത്തിനും യേശുവിന്റെ അമ്മയായ മറിയത്തിനും യേശുവിന്റെ ശിഷ്യന്മാർക്കും അതിരറ്റ സന്തോഷവും അതിലേറെ സമാധാനവും സ്വാതന്ത്യ വും കൈവന്നു. എന്നാൽ പടയാളികൾക്കും യഹൂദർക്കും അത് അങ്കലാപ്പ് ഉണ്ടാക്കി. ഭയപ്പാട് ഉണ്ടാക്കി. സന്തോഷം പോയി. സമാധാനം പോയി. സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യം പോയി. അവരുടെ സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും യേശുവിനെ കല്ലറയിൽ അടച്ചപ്പോൾ ആയിരുന്നു. കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി പിളർന്നപ്പോൾ ….. യേശു ഉയിർത്തെണീറ്റപ്പോൾ സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും കൈവരിച്ച മഗ്ദലേനമറിയത്തെ പ്പോലെയും യേശുവിന്റെ അമ്മയായ മറിയത്തെപ്പോലെയും യേശുവിന്റെ ശിഷ്യന്മാരെപ്പോലെയും യേശുവിനെ കല്ലറയിൽ കൊട്ടി അടച്ചപ്പോൾ സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും സ്വാതന്ത്യ വും കൈവരിച്ച പടയാളികളെ പോലെയും യഹൂദരെ പോലെയും ഇന്നും രണ്ടു കൂട്ടം ആളുകൾ ഉണ്ട്. സത്യവും നീതിയും സ്നേഹവും കാരുണ്യവും കനിവും ഒക്കെയും കല്ലറയിൽ അടക്കുമ്പോൾ സന്തോഷിക്കുന്ന, സമാധാനത്തിൽ ആയിരിക്കുന്ന, സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യം അനുഭവിക്കുന്ന ഒരു കൂട്ടർ. മറ്റേ കൂട്ടർക്കോ? കല്ലറ ക്ക് മുന്നിലെ കാവൽക്കാർ മറിഞ്ഞു വീണപ്പോഴാണ്. കല്ലറയെ കൊട്ടിയടച്ച കല്ലുരുട്ടി മാറ്റ പ്പെട്ടപ്പോൾ ആണ്… മുദ്ര വെച്ച കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി പിളർന്ന പ്പോഴാണ് … സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും സ്വാതന്ത്യ വും കൈവരിച്ചതു. അവർക്ക് മറക്കപെട്ട സത്യം സന്തോഷം നല്കില്ല നിഷേധിക്കപെട്ട നീതി സമാധാനം നല്കില്ല. അണ പൊട്ടി ഒഴുകാത്ത സ്നേഹവും കാരുണ്യവും കനിവും അവർക്ക് ശാ ന്തിയും സമാധാനവും സന്തോഷവും നല്കുകയില്ല. പുതിയ മാപ്പാപ്പയെ ഈ തുറക്കപ്പെട്ട കല്ലറയുടെ വക്ത്താവായാണ് ലോകം മുഴുവനും വാഴ്ത്തുന്നത് . പുതിയ പപ്പാ അടഞ്ഞ ബുള്ളറ്റ് പ്രൂഫ് പാപ്പ മൊബീൽ തുറന്നിട്ട് ജനങ്ങളെ ആശീർ വ്വദിച്ചു ജനങ്ങൾക്കിടയിലൂടെ നീങ്ങി. ലാറ്റിൻ അമേരിക്കയിൽ നിന്ന് വാഴ്ത്തപ്പെട്ടവനായി ഉയർത്തപ്പെടാൻ പോകുന്ന എൽസാൽവദോറിലെ ആർച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് ഓസ്കാർ റൊമേരോക്ക് സത്യവും നീതിയും സ്നേഹവും കാരുണ്യവും കനിവും ഒക്കെയും കല്ലറയിൽ അടക്കപ്പെട്ടപ്പോൾ സ്വസ്ഥമായി ഉറങ്ങാനായില്ല. ദിവ്യബലി മദ്ധ്യേ അൾത്താരയിൽ വെടിയേറ്റ് വീണു കാസയിലെ തിരു രക്തത്തോട് സ്വന്തം രക്തം കൂടി കലർന്ന് മരിച്ച ആർച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് ഓസ്കാർ റൊമേരോയുടെ നാട്ടിൽ നിന്ന് കല്ലറ തുറന്ന് കനിവും കാരുണ്യവും സ്നേഹവും സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യവും ആവോളം ഏകാൻ ഉയിർപ്പിക്കപെട്ടവന്റെ വിജയ കൊടിയുമായി ഫ്രാൻസിസ് പാപ്പ ഇന്ന് ഏവരുടേയും കണ്മുമ്പിൽ നിറയുന്നു.
യേശുവിന്റെ മരണത്തിനു ഒരുക്കമായി മറിയം കൊണ്ട് വന്ന നാർദിൻ സുഗന്ധ ദ്രവ്യ കുപ്പി യേശുവിന്റെ മനുഷ്യത്വത്തിന്റെ പ്രതീകമാണ്. കുപ്പി തുറന്നപ്പോൾ വീട് മുഴുവൻ നിറഞ്ഞ പരിമളം യേശുവിന്റെ ദൈവത്വവും. കല്ലറയിൽ അടക്കപെട്ട മനുഷ്യത്വം കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി തുറന്നു ദൈവത്വം ഉയിർത്തെ ണീ റ്റു. പുതു ജീവന്റെ പ്രതീകമായി നല്കുന്ന മുട്ട അമ്മ കോഴിയുടെ സഹനത്തിന്റെ ചൂട് ഏറ്റു വാങ്ങി പൊട്ടി പിളർന്നാലെ ജീവനുള്ള കോഴികുഞ്ഞു പുറത്തു വരികയുള്ളൂ . നമ്മുടെ ജീവിതമാകുന്ന കല്ലറകൾ പിളരട്ടെ. നമ്മുടെ ജീവിതമാകുന്ന നാർദിൻ സുഗന്ധ ദ്രവ്യ കുപ്പി തുറക്കട്ടെ. ജീവിതത്തിന്റെ തൊണ്ട് പൊട്ടി പുതു ജീവൻ പകരട്ടെ …. ആമേൻ
The forane church of Athirampuzha, a world renowned pilgrim centre of St.Sebastian is dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary.This church about 10Kms away from kottayam has been the hub of Christian life in and around central kerala from early 9th century. This is one of the biggest parishes of the Archeparchy of Changanassery. It consists of almost 2500 families and the total number of the faithful exceeds 10000.
Athirampuzha church must trace back her history to the Ettonnussery Illam which was the power centre of the local kingdom. It is said that the Namboodiri of this Illam donated the land to build a church in the name of blessed virgin Mary as a token of gratitude on the Miraculous birth of his son. The Church was blessed on August 15th 835 AD. Gradually it became an independent church and later was elevated to the status of a forane in 1929. The church also witnessed many historical events like the historic journey of Mar Abraham Karivatti and paremakkal Thoma Kathanar to Rome, the All India Eucharistic congress-the first and the last of its kind in Kerala conducted from 8 th to 15th May 1929.
The Church is an exemplary specimen of ancient architecture. There were ancient stones with engravings and Thaliyollas in ‘Nanam Moonam’ alphabet kept in the church. Here there is a good collection of objects of historic, Artistic, Archival, Archaeological and anthropological interest in granite, wood, metal ,ivory, including Granite cross, Altar, Bells, Articles used in holy Qurbana …etc.
The present church was constructed during the time of Fr.Joseph Ithiparambil. The renovation began in 1962 and was consecrated by Mar Mathew Kavukattu, the Archbishop of Changanachery in 1966. The church, brilliantly enshrining the western architecture, in 180 feet tall and 55 feet wide. The ‘madbaha and Roopakoodu’ were build in Portuguese style. The intricate altar engraving, the awesome gothic structure, the three huge glockenspiels in the belfry, the well known Kalkurish and the renowned feast of St.Sebastian with all its traditional ethos and the magnificent pyrotechnics- all these adorn the church and its elegance.
The Cheriapally(Little or small church) is situated in the location where the first church was built and blessed in AD 835.It was renovated to the present form by Fr.Thomas Olakkapady and was blessed by his Excellency Kurialacherry Mar Thoma on January 22nd, 1919. Cheriapally is situated 200 meters away from the Valiapally. The Church is known in the name of St.Sebastian. Meeting the demands of the time, recently the church was renovated by very Rev. Dr. Mani puthiyidom.
The church dedicated to blessed virgin Mary Celebrates her feast on 3rd Sunday of September. This Festal celebration is commonly called as Kannimasa Perunal / naragana Perunal. The members of Darsans Samooham (a pious association) plays a major role in this feast. They participate in their special costumes in the mass and Procession.
As per the record, the feast of st.sebastian was started at Athirampuzha church from the year 1647.Now the principal festal week in from 19th to 26th of January every year. The flag hoisting ceremony marking the beginning of the festival is on 19th.The annual feast attracts a large no. of devotees from all over south India. The statue of St.Sebastian installed here is considered very ancient. During the days of the Portuguese, three figures were brought to kerala. Legend says that the smallest of them has brought to Athirampuzha by local traders. This is known as ‘Adiyelpicha Roopam’ (the Tortured Figure). The statue of St.Sebastian in Athirampuzha is unique as it is the only statue of the saint without arrowation is very attractive.
St. Sebastian’s statue is exposed for public veneration only during the feastal season. The dazzling display of fireworks in connection with the festival is a colorful visual treat. The procession is a spiritual ablu for the devotees. Band set including school bands, flags, gold-brass-silver wooden crosses, allavattom, venchamaram, Thazahakkuda, theevetti and beaded ornate umbrellas etc make the procession very gorgeous and regal. Ettamidam extends the celebration for eight more days. The Festival comes to an end by February 1.
A depiction of the Nativity with a Christmas tree backdrop.
|Significance||Traditional birthday of Jesus|
|Date||December 25 (alternatively, January 6, 7 or 19) (see below)|
|Observances||Church services, gift giving, family and other social gatherings, symbolic decorating|
|Related to||Christmastide, Christmas Eve, Advent, Annunciation, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, Yule|
Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ‘s Mass“) is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
The precise year of Jesus’ birth, which some historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, as well as the date of the southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice), with a sun connection being possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2.
The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7; all the Greek Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25.
The popular celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
The word “Christmas” originated as a compound meaning “Christ‘s Mass“. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), “Messiah“; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form “Christenmas” was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally “Christian mass”. “Xmas” is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), “Christ”, though numerous style guides discourage its use; it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where “Χρ̄” is an abbreviation for Χριστός).
In addition to “Christmas”, the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The Anglo-Saxons referred to the feast as midwinter, “midwinter“, or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from Latin nātīvitās below). “Nativity“, meaning “birth”, is from Latin nātīvitās. In Old English, Gēola (“Yule“) referred to the period corresponding to January and December; the cognate Old Norse Jól was later the name of a pagan Scandinavian holiday which merged with Christmas around 1000. “Noel” (or “Nowell”) entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs), “(day) of birth”.
Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees.
Countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include China, (excepting Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and North Korea. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.
Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance.
In Catholic countries, people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas. In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6, Epiphany.
Anbetung der Hirten (Adoration of the Shepherds) (c. 1500–10), by Italian painter Giorgio da Castelfranco
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament‘s Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Depending on one’s perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.
According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (KJV); and “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (NIV). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow the Biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews. The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.
Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions. In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve, and many families’ major observation of Christmas actually falls in the evening of this day.
A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a stable with livestock and include Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three wise men, the shepherds and their sheep, the angels, and the Star of Bethlehem.
The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green”. The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.
Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. They were popularised by Saint Francis of Asissi from 1223, quickly spreading across Europe. Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world, dependent on local tradition and available resources. The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s, inspired by paper chains made by children. In countries where a representation of the Nativity Scene is very popular, people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom.
The traditional colors of Christmas are green and red. White, silver and gold are also popular. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter.
The Christmas tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship; according to eighth-century biographer Æddi Stephanus, Saint Boniface (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the Trinity. The English language phrase “Christmas tree” is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century.
From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain. By the 1870s, people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.
Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures.
Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas display. The concentric assortment of leaves, usually from an evergreen, make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare Christians for the Advent season. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world. Both of these antiquated, more subdued, Christmas displays are seen in the image to the right of Saint Anselm College.
Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places. It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5.
The earliest extant specifically Christmas hymns appear in 4th century Rome. Latin hymns such as Veni redemptor gentium, written by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, were austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism. Corde natus ex Parentis (Of the Father’s love begotten) by the Spanish poet Prudentius (d. 413) is still sung in some churches today.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Christmas “Sequence” or “Prose” was introduced in North European monasteries, developing under Bernard of Clairvaux into a sequence of rhymed stanzas. In the 12th century the Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor began to derive music from popular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol.
By the 13th century, in France, Germany, and particularly, Italy, under the influence of Francis of Asissi, a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed. Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty-five “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house.
The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal folk songs sung during celebrations such as “harvest tide” as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols began to be sung in church. Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns, and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. Some carols like “Personent hodie“, “Good King Wenceslas“, and “The Holly and the Ivy” can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages. They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. Adeste Fidelis (O Come all ye faithful) appears in its current form in the mid-18th century, although the words may have originated in the 13th century.
Singing of carols initially suffered a decline in popularity after the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, although some Reformers, like Martin Luther, wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship. Carols largely survived in rural communities until the revival of interest in popular songs in the 19th century. The 18th century English reformer Charles Wesley understood the importance of music to worship. In addition to setting many psalms to melodies, which were influential in the Great Awakening in the United States, he wrote texts for at least three Christmas carols. The best known was originally entitled “Hark! How All the Welkin Rings”, later renamed “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing“.
Felix Mendelssohn wrote a melody adapted to fit Wesley’s words. In Austria in 1818 Mohr and Gruber made a major addition to the genre when they composed “Silent Night” for the St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf. William B. Sandys‘ Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) contained the first appearance in print of many now-classic English carols, and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the festival.
Completely secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late 18th century. “Deck The Halls” dates from 1784, and the American “Jingle Bells” was copyrighted in 1857. In the 19th and 20th century, African American spirituals and songs about Christmas, based in their tradition of spirituals, became more widely known. An increasing number of seasonal holidays songs were commercially produced in the 20th century, including jazz and blues variations. In addition, there was a revival of interest in early music, from groups singing folk music, such as The Revels, to performers of early medieval and classical music.
A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday’s celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Some regions, such as Sicily, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served. In England and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose, meat, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies and fruit cake.
In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served. In Germany, France and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan, a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season. Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, bûche de Noël in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods.
Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. The traditional greeting reads “wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”, much like that of the first commercial Christmas card, produced by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843. The custom of sending them has become popular among a wide cross-section of people with the emergence of the modern trend towards exchanging E-cards.
Christmas cards are purchased in considerable quantities, and feature artwork, commercially designed and relevant to the season. The content of the design might relate directly to the Christmas narrative with depictions of the Nativity of Jesus, or Christian symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem, or a white dove which can represent both the Holy Spirit and Peace on Earth. Other Christmas cards are more secular and can depict Christmas traditions, mythical figures such as Santa Claus, objects directly associated with Christmas such as candles, holly and baubles, or a variety of images associated with the season, such as Christmastide activities, snow scenes and the wildlife of the northern winter. There are even humorous cards and genres depicting nostalgic scenes of the past such as crinolined shoppers in idealized 19th century streetscapes.
Some prefer cards with a poem, prayer or Biblical verse; while others distance themselves from religion with an all-inclusive “Season’s greetings”.
A number of nations have issued commemorative stamps at Christmastide. Postal customers will often use these stamps to mail Christmas cards, and they are popular with philatelists. These stamps are regular postage stamps, unlike Christmas seals, and are valid for postage year-round. They usually go on sale some time between early October and early December, and are printed in considerable quantities.
In 1898 a Canadian stamp was issued to mark the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate. The stamp features a map of the globe and bears an inscription “XMAS 1898” at the bottom. In 1937, Austria issued two “Christmas greeting stamps” featuring a rose and the signs of the zodiac. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star of Bethlehem, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child, and a mother and child.
The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making the Christmas season the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. Gift giving was common in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, an ancient festival which took place in late December and may have influenced Christmas customs. On Christmas, Christians exchange gifts on the basis that the tradition is associated St. Nicholas with Christmas, and that gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were given to the infant Jesus by the Biblical Magi.
A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus (derived from the Dutch for Saint Nicholas), Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.
The best known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus, of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.
Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.
The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular in New York. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). Following the American Revolutionary War, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city’s non-English past. New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was reinvented as Saint Nicholas.
In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City. At his first American appearance in 1810, Santa Claus was drawn in bishops’ robes. However as new artists took over, Santa Claus developed more secular attire. Nast drew a new image of “Santa Claus” annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast’s Santa had evolved into the robed, fur clad, form we now recognize, perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.
Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts. In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.
There has been some opposition to the narrative of the American evolution of Saint Nicholas into the modern Santa. It has been claimed that the Saint Nicholas Society was not founded until 1835, almost half a century after the end of the American War of Independence. Moreover, a study of the “children’s books, periodicals and journals” of New Amsterdam by Charles Jones revealed no references to Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. However, not all scholars agree with Jones’s findings, which he reiterated in a booklength study in 1978; Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York was alive and well from the early settlement of the Hudson Valley on.
Current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children’s homes, a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.
In South Tyrol (Italy), Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Switzerland, the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. Greek children get their presents from Saint Basil on New Year’s Eve, the eve of that saint’s liturgical feast. The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus/Father Christmas). St. Nikolaus wears a bishop‘s dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.
In the earliest centuries of Christianity, no particular day of the year is known to have been associated with the birth of Jesus. Various dates were speculated: May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17 or 20. When celebration on a particular date began, January 6 prevailed at least in the East; but, except among Armenians (the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church), who continue to celebrate the birth on January 6, December 25 eventually won acceptance everywhere.
The birth of Jesus was announced in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Moreover, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.
In the early 4th century, the church calendar in Rome contained Christmas on December 25 and other holidays placed on solar dates: “It is cosmic symbolism…which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the southern solstice, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the northern solstice as that of John the Baptist, supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception. While they were aware that pagans called this day the ‘birthday’ of Sol Invictus, this did not concern them and it did not play any role in their choice of date for Christmas,” according to modern scholar S.E. Hijmans.
Around the year 386 John Chrysostom delivered a sermon in Antioch in favour of adopting the 25 December celebration also in the East, since, he said, the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26) had been announced during the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist (Luke 1:10–13), which he dated from the duties Zacharias performed on the Day of Atonement during the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar Ethanim or Tishri (Lev. 16:29, 1 Kings 8:2) which falls from late September to early October. That shepherds watched the flocks by night in the fields in the winter time is supported by the phrase “frost by night” in Genesis 31:38–40. A special group known as the shepherds of Migdal Eder (Gen. 35:19–21, Micah 4:8) watched the flocks by night year round pastured for Temple Sacrifice near Bethlehem.
In the early 18th century, some scholars proposed alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas, celebrating the birth of him whom Christians consider to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2, was selected to correspond with the southern solstice, which the Romans called bruma, celebrated on December 25. In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a “paganization” that debased the true church. It has been argued that, on the contrary, the Emperor Aurelian, who in 274 instituted the holiday of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, did so partly as an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already important for Christians in Rome. In 1889, Louis Duchesne proposed that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after the Annunciation, the traditional date of the conception of Jesus.
Eastern Orthodox national churches, including those of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark feasts using the older Julian calendar. December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the internationally used Gregorian calendar. However, other Orthodox Christians, such as the churches of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland and the Orthodox Church in America, among others, began using the Revised Julian calendar in the early 20th century, which corresponds exactly to the Gregorian calendar.
|Church or section||Date||Calendar||Gregorian date||Note|
|Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem||January 6||Julian calendar||January 19||Correspondence between Julian January 6 and Gregorian January 19 holds until 2100; in the following century the difference will be one day more.|
|Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church||January 6||Gregorian calendar||January 6|
|Eastern Orthodox: Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem||December 25||Julian calendar||January 7|
|Other Eastern Orthodox Churches, including those of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland and the Orthodox Church in America||December 25||Revised Julian calendar||December 25||Revised Julian calendar usage started in the early 20th century|
|Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria||Koiak 29 (corresponding to Julian December 25 or 26)||Coptic calendar||January 7 or 8||Since the Coptic calendar’s leap day is inserted in what the Julian calendar considers September, the following Koiak 29 falls one day later than usual in the Julian and Gregorian calendars|
|Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church||Tahsas 29 or 28 (corresponding to Julian December 25)||Ethiopian Calendar||January 7||After the Ethiopian insertion of a leap day in what for the Julian calendar is September, Christmas is celebrated on Tahsas 28 in order to maintain the exact interval of 9 30-day months and 5 days of the child’s gestation. The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church uses the same calendar but, like the Coptic Church, does not make this adjustment.|
|Western churches||December 25||Gregorian calendar||December 25|
The earliest evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus is from the Chronography of 354 AD. This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6. The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century, probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century. Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380.
Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity. These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century reformation. Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within Protestant Christendom due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the unconquered sun”.
Some early Christian writers connected the sun to the birth of Jesus, which Christians believe was prophesied in Malachi 4:2 as the “Sun of Righteousness.” “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…Christ should be born”, Cyprian wrote. In the fourth century, John Chrysostom commented on the connection: “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . . ., But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.”
One ancient source mentioned Dies Natalis Solis Invicti in the Chronography of 354, and Sol scholar Steven Hijmans stated that there is no evidence that the celebration precedes that of Christmas: “[W]hile the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas, and none that indicates that Aurelian had a hand in its institution.”
A winter festival was the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached. Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year; and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.
Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas, especially Koleda, which was incorporated into the Christmas carol. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas, a usage first recorded in 900.
The New Testament Gospel of Luke may indirectly give the date as December for the birth of Jesus, with the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist cited by John Chrysostom (c. 386) as a date for the Annunciation. Tertullian (d. 220) did not mention Christmas as a major feast day in the Church of Roman Africa. In Chronographai, a reference work published in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox. The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar, so this implied a birth in December.
Bishops Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 175) and Hippolytus of Rome (204) are often cited among the earliest Christian references to December 25 being the Date of Christ’s birth. In 245, the theologian Origen of Alexandria stated that, “only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod)” celebrated their birthdays. In 303, Christian writer Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration. Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ’s birth “as God” but “as man”, this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time. The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.
The earliest known reference to the date of the nativity as December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome. In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus.
Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.
The Examination and Trial of Father Christmas, (1686), published shortly after Christmas was reinstated as a holy day in England.
In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in western Christianity focused on the visit of the magi. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the “forty days of St. Martin” (which began on November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours), now known as Advent. In Italy, former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent. Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.
The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066.
By the High Middle Ages, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten. The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. Caroling also became popular, and was originally a group of dancers who sang. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form. “Misrule”—drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on New Year’s Day, and there was special Christmas ale.
Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens. Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord. The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques and pageants. In 1607, King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games. It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.
Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the “trappings of popery” or the “rags of the Beast.” The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old style Christmas generosity. Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England’s Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647.
Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans. The book, The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652), argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with “plow-boys” and “maidservants”, and carol singing. The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland also discouraged the observance of Christmas, and though James VI commanded its celebration in 1618, attendance at church was scant. The Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been “purged of all superstitious observation of days”. It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday.
In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.
At the same time, Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely. Pennsylvania German Settlers, pre-eminently the Moravian settlers of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz in Pennsylvania and the Wachovia Settlements in North Carolina, were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes. Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom. George Washington attacked Hessian (German) mercenaries on the day after Christmas during the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, Christmas being much more popular in Germany than in America at this time.
In the early 19th century, writers imagined Tudor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol, that helped revive the ‘spirit’ of Christmas and seasonal merriment. Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion.
Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centered festival of generosity, in contrast to the community-based and church-centered observations, the observance of which had dwindled during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Superimposing his secular vision of the holiday, Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit. A prominent phrase from the tale, ‘Merry Christmas’, was popularized following the appearance of the story. This coincided with the appearance of the Oxford Movement and the growth of Anglo-Catholicism, which led a revival in traditional rituals and religious observances.
The term Scrooge became a synonym for miser, with ‘Bah! Humbug!’ dismissive of the festive spirit. In 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was produced by Sir Henry Cole. The revival of the Christmas Carol began with William B. Sandys Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833), with the first appearance in print of ‘The First Noel’, ‘I Saw Three Ships’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, popularized in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
In Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover, by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen to King George III. In 1832 a young Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with lights, ornaments, and presents placed round it. After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain.
An image of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, created a sensation when it was published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. A modified version of this image was published in the United States in 1850. By the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.
In America, interest in Christmas had been revived in the 1820s by several short stories by Washington Irving which appear in his The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon and “Old Christmas”. Irving’s stories depicted harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities he experienced while staying in Aston Hall, Birmingham, England, that had largely been abandoned, and he used the tract Vindication of Christmas (1652) of Old English Christmas traditions, that he had transcribed into his journal as a format for his stories.
In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (popularly known by its first line: Twas the Night Before Christmas). The poem helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. This also started the cultural conflict of the holiday’s spiritualism and its commercialism that some see as corrupting the holiday. In her 1850 book “The First Christmas in New England”, Harriet Beecher Stowe includes a character who complains that the true meaning of Christmas was lost in a shopping spree.
While the celebration of Christmas was not yet customary in some regions in the U.S., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow detected “a transition state about Christmas here in New England” in 1856. “The old puritan feeling prevents it from being a cheerful, hearty holiday; though every year makes it more so”. In Reading, Pennsylvania, a newspaper remarked in 1861, “Even our presbyterian friends who have hitherto steadfastly ignored Christmas — threw open their church doors and assembled in force to celebrate the anniversary of the Savior’s birth”.
The First Congregational Church of Rockford, Illinois, ‘although of genuine Puritan stock’, was ‘preparing for a grand Christmas jubilee’, a news correspondent reported in 1864. By 1860, fourteen states including several from New England had adopted Christmas as a legal holiday. In 1870, Christmas was formally declared a United States Federal holiday, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Subsequently, in 1875, Louis Prang introduced the Christmas card to Americans. He has been called the “father of the American Christmas card”.
Throughout the holiday’s history, Christmas has been the subject of controversy and attacks from various sources. The first documented Christmas controversy was Puritan led, and began during the English Interregnum, when England was ruled by a Puritan Parliament. Puritans sought to remove the remaining pagan elements of Christmas. During this brief period, the Puritan led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirely, considering it “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior. In Colonial America, the Puritans outlawed celebration of Christmas in 1659.
Christians and defenders of religious freedom have claimed that attacks on Christmas continue in the present-day (dubbed a “war on Christmas”). One controversy is the occurrence of Christmas trees being renamed Holiday trees. In the United States there has been a tendency to replace the greeting Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have initiated court cases to bar the display of images and other material referring to Christmas from public property, including schools. Such groups argue that government-funded displays of Christmas imagery and traditions violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the establishment by Congress of a national religion. In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lynch vs. Donnelly that a Christmas display (which included a Nativity scene) owned and displayed by the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island did not violate the First Amendment.
In November 2009, the Federal appeals court in Philadelphia endorsed a school district’s ban on the singing of Christmas carols. The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. In the private sphere also, it has been alleged that any specific mention of the term “Christmas” or its religious aspects was being increasingly censored, avoided, or discouraged by a number of advertisers and retailers. In response, the American Family Association and other groups have organized boycotts of individual retailers.
In the United Kingdom there have been some minor controversies, one of the most famous being the temporary promotion of the Christmas period as Winterval by Birmingham City Council in 1998. Critics attacked the use of the word Winterval as political correctness gone mad, accusing council officials of trying to take the Christ out of Christmas. The council responded to the criticism by stating that Christmas-related words and symbols were prominent in its publicity material. There were also protests in November 2009 when the city council of Dundee promoted its celebrations as the Winter Night Light festival, initially with no specific Christmas references.
Christmas is typically the largest annual economic stimulus for many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas and shops introduce new products as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies. In the U.S., the “Christmas shopping season” starts as early as October. In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween (October 31), and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11. In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on. In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season. Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that expenditure in department stores nationwide rose from $20.8 billion in November 2004 to $31.9 billion in December 2004, an increase of 54 percent. In other sectors, the pre-Christmas increase in spending was even greater, there being a November – December buying surge of 100 percent in bookstores and 170 percent in jewelry stores. In the same year employment in American retail stores rose from 1.6 million to 1.8 million in the two months leading up to Christmas. Industries completely dependent on Christmas include Christmas cards, of which 1.9 billion are sent in the United States each year, and live Christmas Trees, of which 20.8 million were cut in the U.S. in 2002. In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales.
In most Western nations, Christmas Day is the least active day of the year for business and commerce; almost all retail, commercial and institutional businesses are closed, and almost all industries cease activity (more than any other day of the year), whether laws require such or not. In England and Wales, the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 prevents all large shops from trading on Christmas Day. Scotland is currently planning similar legislation. Film studios release many high-budget movies during the holiday season, including Christmas films, fantasy movies or high-tone dramas with high production values to hopes of maximizing the chance of nominations for the Academy Awards.
One economist‘s analysis calculates that, despite increased overall spending, Christmas is a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory, because of the effect of gift-giving. This loss is calculated as the difference between what the gift giver spent on the item and what the gift receiver would have paid for the item. It is estimated that in 2001, Christmas resulted in a $4 billion deadweight loss in the U.S. alone. Because of complicating factors, this analysis is sometimes used to discuss possible flaws in current microeconomic theory. Other deadweight losses include the effects of Christmas on the environment and the fact that material gifts are often perceived as white elephants, imposing cost for upkeep and storage and contributing to clutter.
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When was the first Christmas card sent? Why do we kiss under the mistletoe? Learn the origins of Christmas and fun facts about some of our favorite christmas traditions and symbols.
There are lots of Christmas traditions that are practiced by a number of countries all over the world during the holiday season. These traditions can be as diverse as the culture and religious practices of each and every country in the world.
Read about some of the most common christmas traditions her.
Origins of Christmas
Luke, Chapter Two
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
In Greece, he is the patron saint of sailors, in France he was the patron of lawyers, and in Belgium the patron of children and travellers. Thousands of churches across Europe were dedicated to him and some time around the 12th century an official church holiday was created in his honor. The Feast of St. Nicholas was celebrated December 6 and the day was marked by gift-giving and charity.
After the Reformation, European followers of St. Nicholas dwindled, but the legend was kept alive in Holland where the Dutch spelling of his name Sint Nikolaas was eventually transformed to Sinterklaas. Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace, and Sinterklaas would reward good children by placing treats in their shoes. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.
In 1822 Clement C. Moore composed the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, published as The Night Before Christmas as a gift for his children. In it, he portrays Santa Claus:
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
Other countries feature different gift-bearers for the Christmas or Advent season: La Befana in Italy ~ The Three Kings in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico ~ Christkindl or the Christ Child in Switzerland and Austria ~ Father Christmas in England ~ and Pere Noël, Father Christmas or the Christ Child in France. Still, the figure of Santa Claus as a jolly, benevolent, plump man in a red suit described in Moore’s poem remains with us today and is recognized by children and adults alike around the world.
Read even more abou christmas traditions andt Santa Claus
The Christmas Tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert from his native Germany. The famous Illustrated News etching in 1848, featuring the Royal Family of Victoria, Albert and their children gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle, popularized the tree throughout Victorian England. Brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans, the Christmas tree became by the late 19th century.
Read even more about Christmas Trees
Focus on Christmas Traditions in US
The variations of the Christmas traditions of USA equal the number active cultures that have settled in the land. These cultural contributions were given a new lease of life by creative artists, authors, poets and songwriters, and it was melded together by the power of secular and commercialized media in record companies, radio stations, television, cinemas and now the internet. The unwritten law of media is the presentation of a seemingly uniform celebration of the Christmas traditions of USA. This is responsible for the world wide acceptance of a universal Christmas image which they get from the media. Nevertheless, the celebrations are peculiar to each region.
Holly, Ivy and Greenery
The Candy cane
According to the National Confectioner’s Association, in 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack’s brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious process of creating the treats and the popularity of the candy cane grew.
More recent explanations of the candy cane’s symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ’s purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for these notions does not exist, they have become increasingly common and at times are even represented as fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite holiday treat and decoration.
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Writing in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, May tested the story as he went along on his 4-year old daughter Barbara, who loved the story
Sadly, Robert Mays wife died around the time he was creating Rudolph, leaving Mays deeply in debt due to medical bills. However, he was able to persuade Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, thus ensuring May’s financial security.
May’s story “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was printed commercially in 1947 and in 1948 a nine-minute cartoon of the story was shown in theaters. When May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, the Rudolph phenomenon was born. Turned down by many musical artists afraid to contend with the legend of Santa Claus, the song was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 at the urging of Autry’s wife. The song sold two million copies that year, going on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time, second only to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. The 1964 television special about Rudolph, narrated by Burl Ives, remains a holiday favorite to this day and Rudolph himself has become a much-loved Christmas icon.
A search of the temple produced a small vial of undefiled oil — enough for only one day. Miraculously, the Temple lights burned for eight days until a new supply of oil was brought. In remembrance of this miracle, one candle of the Menorah – an eight branched candelabra – is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, which means dedication, is a Hebrew word when translated is commonly spelled Hanukah, Chanukah, and Hannukah due to different translations and customs.
The tradition of receiving gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is relatively new and due in part to the celebration’s proximity to the Christmas season.
Three green candles are placed on the left, three red candles on the right and a black candle in the center, each candle representing one of the seven principles of the celebration. One candle is lit each day of the Kwanzaa celebration, beginning from left to right The colors of Kwanzaa ~ black, red and green ~ also have a special significance. Black symbolizes the faces of the African people, Red symbolizes the blood they have shed, and Green represents hope and the color of the motherland. The name itself – Kwanzaa – is a Swahili word meaning “fruits of the harvest.”
ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS: Members of the All Things Christmas List at eGroups share their favorite Family Traditions for the Holiday season.
Puthiyidathu Mathew MCBS
The influence of different Christian movements and organizations has made several youngsters come forward with great enthusiasm and commitment to the Church and her mission in the modern world. The increasing number of youngsters gathered at the World Youth Day affirms this fact. Each WYD produces new enthusiasm in the hearts of millions of youth, the present and the future of the Church. After the WYD 2005 of Cologne Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the German Bishops on behalf of the youth, “Yes we came to worship him, we met him. Now help us to become his disciples and witnesses”.
The challenge is to help the young to live their ‘present’ here and now in the Church. Youngsters are always searching for challenges; they like to move differently. The great Pope, the admirer of youth, John Paul II asked them to become a joyful contradiction in the modern world.
At the same time there is a large mass of people who are still far away from the Church, especially in the Asian continent. The Universal Church is well aware of this situation and says, “It is indeed a mystery why the Saviour of the world, born in Asia, has until now remained largely unknown to the people of the continent”. It must be remembered that “Evangelization and church – planting are a slow and painstaking work. To reach the desired goal the evangelizer needs to use effective methods. Thus not paying attention to effectiveness simply means that we are in fact using wrong methods.”
The Importance of New Ways and Means
Change is fundamental to the human person and to society. As a social being man tries to adapt himself to his changing circumstances. The Church also is travelling the same way. She searches and finds new possibilities to continue her mission in the modern world. There is a wide horizon of possibilities open to us. “Missionary methods reflect the social relationships in the society where the church lives; new situations spawn new methods. The church acquires a new self awareness, both cause and effect of a new way of existence, new ideas, new ministries, new apostolic movements etc”.
Our duty is to benefit from it according to the needs of the time. The Magisterium of the Church is very much open to new means in evangelization. “How do we bring the message of Christ to non-Christian young people who represent the future of entire continents? Clearly, the ordinary means of pastoral work are not sufficient: what are needed are associations, institutions, special centers and groups, and cultural and social initiatives for young people.”
The traditional means of evangelization are not enough to cope with the modern technological world. “Missionary activity, which is carried out in a wide variety of ways, is the task of all the Christian faithful,” The complex life situations invite us to find out more effective and attractive methods which give an impetus to the zeal of youngsters. Church also acknowledges it through her teachings, “This question of ‘how to evangelize’ is permanently relevant, because the methods of evangelizing vary according to the different circumstances of time, place and culture, and because they thereby present a certain challenge to our capacity for discovery and adaptation.”
One of the positive aspects of the missionary enthusiasm of the new generation is their sharing mentality. They are ready to share their time, energy, talents, resources, prayer, etc, for the Kingdom of God. At the same time they are very strict about the concrete results of their sharing.
It is the duty and privilege of each and every one to find and open new vistas of attractive and effective means of evangelization. It doesn’t mean that traditional ways are totally outdated. Perhaps they are the foundation of our new endeavors and we are modifying them according to the needs of the time. Each and every Christian has the obligation to proclaim the Good News. But each one is different and unique and so the ways and means of participation is also different. One cannot be higher than the other, but only in the level of commitment of the individual. At the same time we have to fan the flame in the hearts of many so that they may be more and more committed to their missionary vocation.
In this paper I intend to present some possible ways and means which would enable us to bring the Good News to the hearts of many. This can help us to bring the mission nearer to the people, especially the youth, who are searching for their role in the Church’s missionary mandate. The formation of Laity is a special concern of the Church too. “The shortage of priests makes it imperative for us to givegreater attention to the formation of the laity and their effective participation in the apostolate.” To achieve this goal, suitable ways and means must be evolved by answering to the needs of the situation.
“And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them? And how will there be preachers if they are not sent?” (Rom 10:14-15)
The proclamation of the Good news is the duty of each and every Christian. It cannot be completed by a few priests and religious alone. So the active participation of the lay people is very important. There are many churches which have been planted and nourished by lay missionaries. The Church in Antioch in the first century is a decisive example for this. “It is the task of the Pastors to ensure that the laity are formed as evangelizers to be able to face the challenges of the contemporary world, not just with worldly wisdom and efficiency, but with hearts renewed and strengthened by the truth of Christ.”
It is a matter of great encouragement and hope that “in many Asian countries, lay people are already serving as true missionaries, reaching out to fellow Asians who might never have contact with clergy and religious.”
Meanwhile ignorance of the Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church creates serious problems among lay missionaries. Although well-motivated, their ignorance of essentials often causes more confusion in the mission field. Systematic and continuous training is necessary for these missionaries.
A serious preparation is needed for all workers for evangelization. Such preparation is all the more necessary for those who devote themselves to the ministry of the Word. Being animated by the conviction, ceaselessly deepened, of the greatness and riches of the Word of God, those who have the mission of transmitting it must give the maximum attention to the dignity, precision and adaptation of their language. Everyone knows that the art of speaking takes on today a very great importance. How would preachers and catechists be able to neglect this?
This training should help to build up a group of good missionaries. A missionary must be a leader and he/she should train others as leaders.
An effective evangelizer needs prayer, leadership qualities and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. One of the effective methods of evangelization is the formation good leaders. An effective evangelizer must win over a good number of followers. Jesus spent more time with his disciples than with the crowd. He conquered the world through his disciples. We know that St. Paul also did the same. St. Paul instructs Timothy, “Pass on to reliable people what you have heard from me through many witnesses so that they in turn will be able to teach others.” (2Tim 2:2)
We have to find leaders from the community itself in order to preach the Gospel. Yahweh said to Moses, “Collects me seventy of the elders of Israel, men you know to be the people’s elders and scribes.” (Num 11:16)
Proper training is an important aspect of the formation of the laity.
While we are spending great sums of money to educate and form our clergy in large houses of formation and with well-organized programs, we cannot allow the formation of laity, as particular groups or as lay ministries, to be neglected. ….. the local churches must be encouraged to appreciate and support lay formation programs. Remuneration of lay persons for their stable services must respect the demands of justice and charity. Much could be improved in their programs of formation by an exchange of personnel and resources.
Sometimes the prolonged intellectual formation and training reduces the commitment and effectiveness of the mission. Scriptural studies and teachings of the Church are the most important things to be learned by an evangelizer. Long term training with all kinds of intellectual development may not be an effective way of training lay missionaries. For instance, in a battle each person has his own position and weapon in which he has been trained well. When somebody tries to master in all kinds of weapons simultaneously he/she becomes the master of none. So also for an evangelizer the Word of God is the weapon given to him/her and he/she should have been trained well to use that weapon.
Two kinds of training can be arranged: Formal and Informal.
a) Formal training: This training is focused on the individuals who are ready to spend their life in mission areas as full time missionaries or at least for three years in a particular area.
Main Thrusts in the course:
v The Word of God
v Openness to The Holy Spirit
v The providence of God
v Special training for the ‘Kerygma’ (the explicit proclamation of the saving act of Christ).
b) Informal Training: Informal training is meant for young students as the future leaders and also for the women in the family who are able to become a leaven in the neighborhood.
The Women flockare powerful evangelizers. It is evident especially in the North Eastern region of India. Their tender love and care for the neighborhood and society bring many conversions in the villages. But I think we do not have an organized programme to tap this powerful resource. With a little training we can make big differences. In his General audience on 13th July 1994, Pope John Paul II appreciated the efficacy of women in spreading the Good news. “Woman has a quite special aptitude in passing on the faith, so much so that Jesus himself appealed to it in the work of evangelization. That is what happened to the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at Jacob’s well: he chose her for the first expansion of the new faith in non-Jewish territory”. Their role in evangelization particularly in person-to person cannot be ignored. Church has given special attention to this mode of Gospel sharing.
For this reason, side by side with the collective proclamation of the Gospel, the other form of transmission, the person-to-person one, remains valid and important……. It must not happen that the pressing need to proclaim the Good News to the multitudes should cause us to forget this form of proclamation whereby an individual’s personal conscience is reached and touched by an entirely unique world that he receives from someone else.
The involvement of women in evangelization activities is to be specially nourished through informal trainings like seminar on evangelization, prayer groups, bible study groups, etc.
In this programme youngsters are encouraged to stay with missionaries for at least six months after their graduation. They will be trained as missionaries of Christ in different ways. They should have ample opportunities to explore their talents in mission and ministry according to their aptitude and creativity. This programme helps the youngsters to discover their aptitude in mission. It will be a period of experience that enables the youth to commit their whole life for the Kingdom of God where ever they may be. We can also hope for their support to the missions in different ways.
The enthusiasm of youth to accept challenges is an important factor in this regard. Our duty is to tap it properly and direct it positively. We can see a renewed vigor in the hearts of youth all over the world. The number of youth who are willing to live and share the gospel is increasing steadily.
The Church asserts her hope about the youth whose participation in evangelization brings new enthusiasm in mission fields. “Circumstances invite us to make special mention of the young…….. young people who are well trained in faith and prayer must become more and more the apostles of youth. The Church counts greatly on their contribution, and we ourselves have often manifested our full confidence in them.” The Church has great hope in their conviction, “To them the Church offers the truth of the Gospel as a joyful and liberating mystery to be known, lived and shared, with conviction and courage.”
The Catholic Church is considered as one of the largest ‘NGOs’ in the country having a wide range of network and numerous institutions. The government and politicians have accepted this fact openly or secretly. Nobody will ever question the excellence of our social undertakings. But unfortunately, if we look at all of our activities from a Christian perspective, we cannot but admit that we are very poor in carrying out the Church’s missionary mandate, which is the core of all our activities. When we realize that only a handful of institutions and activities are earnestly proclaiming the kerigma through their services, we ought to admit that a large chunk is running out of track.
The Goal of the Programme
The important goal of this programme is to train a group of youngsters who, enlightened by Christian values, become responsible for their life and community. They should become the light and salt of the community, especially in their schools and colleges. It is our duty help them in this regard.
The system of Catholic education must become still more clearly directed towards human promotion, providing an environment where students receive not only the formal elements of schooling but, more broadly, an integral human formation based upon the teachings of Christ.Catholic schools should continue to be places where the faith can be freely proposed and received (EA-37). 
We achieve our goal in and through Jesus. Students should have the opportunity to hear and experience the love of God. In short our ultimate aim is to give Jesus to the young hearts so that they may become blessings for the community. Jesus will colour their lives. This is the hope and vision.
Adolescence is an important and crucial period of time where the young search for identity. If we are able to inculcate Christian values in them and directing them to find their identity in Jesus, it will bear much fruits.
Since school is a large arena, giving personal care is very difficult. So we think of hostels. A hostel with 40 to 100 catholic students both boys and girls where each one will be cared for and nourished properly, is our vision.
Apostolic schools run by different dioceses are a possibility in this regard.
Genuinelymotivated and committed teachers can do wonders through their students. Proper training will help them to live their life more profoundly.
For education in schools to become more effective as a vehicle of transformation in society, a true and proper vision and spirituality among teachers are needed. This vision requires that the task of teaching be viewed as a call from God to share in the teaching ministry of Jesus who announced and taught about the Kingdom and that teaching is not simply the communication of knowledge but even more importantly the formation in values. From such a vision flows a spirituality involving sacrifice, other-directedness, concern, love, justice and other Gospel values. As in catechesis, the more effective is not the one who simply teaches but the one who also witnesses.
ü Committed mission teachers will take care of the children
ü Only devout Catholics having mission motivation will be selected as teachers
ü Teachers will have Good salary package
ü They should undergo a mission training programme for at least 30 days.
ü Day time teachers will be entrusted with prayer and village ministry which includes informal schooling and women empowerment programmes
ü They would assist the children in the evening
ü A teacher has the responsibility of 15 to 20 students
ü Life of the teacher should be a witness for the children
Mission teachers working in some of our catholic schools are doing great services to the Church.
A mission clinic enables aspiring nurses and doctors to serve God’s kingdom by liberating the sick and the needy from their bondage. This experience of mission will produce much fruit in the long run.
Motivated by divine love, youngsters voluntarily spend certain months of their important span of life to share this love. It may be a few months or one to two years. It may help them to be more generous to the poor in their future life. Their support even after their period of commitment is expected. The village youth can possibly be motivated by the service of these volunteers.
Mode of Action
We are familiar with terms like eco-tourism, health tourism, etc. Mission Tourism aims at giving some idea about mission fields to the people who are really interested in mission but have not been able to be directly engaged in the process of evangelization. We help them to have a foretaste of the mission. The possibility of using tourism as an activity of mission is a concern of The Church too.
International tourism has now become a mass phenomenon. This is a positive development if tourists maintain an attitude of respect and a desire for mutual cultural enrichment, avoiding ostentation and waste, and seeking contact with other people. But Christians are expected above all to be aware of their obligation to bear witness always to their faith and love of Christ. Firsthand knowledge of the missionary life and of new Christian communities also can be an enriching experience and can strengthen one’s faith. Visiting the missions is commendable, especially on the part of young people who go there to serve and to gain an intense experience of the Christian life.
Our target groups are the professionals and employees working in and outside the country.
Mode of Action
Interested people are invited to visit some of the mission centres. They will get opportunities to understand the village life and people. Those interested can stay in the village for two or three days. If they wish we will direct them to other tourist places in the region. All expenses must be met by them.
v Heard knowledge turns to touch knowledge.
v They can find out their own possible way to support the community with their professional experiences in different walks of life. For eg: an engineer sees the things and recognizes the possibilities from his perspective. So as in the case of doctors, business men, educators, social workers etc
v Can be motivated by the selfless work of the missionaries
v Can be motivated by the role of the church
v May help us through their prayer and resources
v May encourage others
v Possibility of vocation from the group or from their offspring
v Moreover, it may help to increase the esteem of missionaries in the hearts of ordinary people
It is true that everything needs a large amount of home work and preparations.
Through this programme we try to lead business people to an encounter with Jesus and there by a personal God experience. There are good number of positive business people also. We motivate them to start some enterprises attune to the specialty of particular area and culture. The conversion of such people, when it is supported with their time and resources will make great difference in the mission fields.
In this context the laity belonging to the world of business hear the call of God to live out their faith according to Gospel values and the needs of the others. This involves a number of options in their business- from the simple exercise of the values of truth, justice and love to their active participation in transforming the social structure of the whole process towards greater worker participation, more discerning consumer guidance, more responsible interventions by Governments and a more equitable society.
Highly populated modern cities are formed due to the establishment of big industries and multinational companies. They have created a culture which mostly degrades and diminishes the human values and leads to greed, self centeredness and all kinds of luxuries etc.
Business as mission calls the catholic business people who are ready to do something for the poor. When we support them for such endeavors they are expected to do something for the people according to their growth in the business. They can support missionary activities in different ways, such as primary school, clinics, training centers, student scholarships etc. In order to support the entrepreneurs practicing and enthusiastic catholic persons should be employed.
“The heart of the Church in Asia will be restless until the whole of Asia finds its rest in the peace of Christ, the Risen Lord.” (EA-10)
The goal of this forum is to enrich and keep up the missionary zeal in the hearts of seminarians/religious/lay people in order to make them equipped for the Evangelization, with an emphasis on Asia, tuned with the call of the Church especially through the Vatican II, encyclicals and other documents of the Magisterium on mission. Universal Church hopes a real spring time in Asia.”Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent.” (EA-1)
Since our main focus is seminarians, we are not planning to do some mission works during this formation period but we are trying to be equipped for our future mission through different means.
The youth from younger Christian communities are motivated to visit the places where they can be enriched through the faith life of the people. In order to experience the life of the people they can be put up in different houses. A better understanding the country and cultures would broaden the mind as well as the spiritual encounter through different programmes would strengthen the faith of the youth.
There are different organizations and Associations where likeminded people from different profession and carrier coming together for their common cause. Trade unions, Employment organizations, etc are familiar to us. In such institutions people come together and think together and move together.
Evangelization also can be done in such a way that one student invites another students, one teacher preaches to another, one doctor motivates to another..etc. When a person really motivated by the love of God he/she spontaneously shares and invites others to experience that joy. It is easy for him/her to share it with whom he/she meets every day life. As a result of such individual initiatives there can be different ministries like campus, teachers, doctors, engineers, nurses, policemen etc. Conducting retreats, arranging prayer groups…etc are some of the means to achieve this goal.
In this programme a group of youngsters after having a short orientation programme reach out to villages where they spent few days according to the need of the village. They stay in different houses according to the number of the team and involve in different activities. They visit houses as a group of 3 to 5 members.
Usually in the remote villages people go for their work during the day. So they spend time in prayer and gather the children who are out of the school. Visiting and praying over the sick and elderly people is another activity during the day. Children may be animated through stories, catechism, songs etc. In the evening they meet the family members, conduct prayer groups, share the gospel and if possible they show some devotional movies also. Through such direct interventions they are able to touch the hearts personally.
Visiting Houses: during the visitation one of them hears the parent/family member and shares gospel through his/her personal experiences. Mean while others pray in heart unceasingly. If necessary they also interact with children in order to avoid distractions in the conversation. Inviting the family members for the evening prayer meeting also should be done.
Results: personal interaction will help convincing the people easily. Hearing the worries and grievances of the people will be a great comfort for them. In many instances people have come back to the church and the sacraments. Since the fruit of the programme is very evident for the participants deepens their faith.
“Missionary cooperation can also involve leaders in politics, economics, culture and journalism, as well as experts of the various international bodies” (RM-82).
Gospel should be proclaimed in every walk of life. Christian missionaries having the idea of option for the poor, have moved towards rural villages. But at the same time we fail to evangelize the elite and rich people whose conversion could have resulted a dramatic change in the missionary activities. The rapid growth of the protestant churches are in a way indebted to such conversions.
Influence of politicians and other people like film actors, sports persons, musicians etc, in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people cannot be ignored. A single sentence of such persons influence the people like a 10 second advertisement in the Television. Thousand preachers’ influence can be achieved with a split of second. We witnessed such an incident when the Brazilian player showed the words on his dress which proclaimed ‘we belong to Jesus’ after their victory in the 2002 World Cup foot ball. It was seen by more than one billion people!
In the same way the involvement of laity in the politics is very important. It will help us to influence the policies of the government.
The need of the hour in Asia is for competent and principled lay persons to enter into the realm of party politics and from within, influence the philosophies, programs and activities of political parties and personalities for the common good in the light of the gospel. We commend the lay persons who already have contributed much to this area of public life.
The assassination of Shabhaz Bhatti, Pakistani minister for Minorities who spoke against blasphemy law made a great impact in the life of the faithful in Pakistan. His words are really strengthening the persecuted Christians in Pakistan.
We are taken you through these methods which are of course not exhaustive. Looking into what we have presented, we are aware of their incompleteness and limits. Each of these methods though effective in their own way besides their limits, has the power to change the lives of people. We need to place these methods in their cultural contexts to reap maximum fruits. Or we need to adapt these methods into the culture where it will be planted this could only muster the result we expect. At this point let me also remind that the church has never been stagnant. Church will encounter new ways in the future. There is no method that is called the best. Suitable methods evolve from answering to the needs of the situation. Still we should not forget that no method is effective unless we follow the biblical method which is seen in Acts 2:43-47. Believers came together for prayer, breaking of the bread, sharing, etc. The life based on Christian charity and communion attracted many. There by the number of believers were also increased steadily. Sharing the Good News is not a propaganda it should be a life witness motivated by one’s own personal God experience. This is the challenge which is responded by an evangelizer throughout the life.
 John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, no. 2.
 Paul Vadadkkumpadan, Mission in North East India, Shillong: Vendrame Institute Publications, 2007, p 141.
Felipe Gomes S.J, “Method in Mission: Lessons from the History of the Church,” in Indian Missiological Review, January-1989, Vol.11, No.1, pp 15-53
 John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, Encyclical, no. 37.
 John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 71.
 Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Apostolic Exhortation, no. 40.
 Indian Missiological Review, January-1989, Vol.11, No.1, pp 54-60, Emerging Priorities and New Perspectives of Evangelization in Asia, ( A summary of the discussions: All Asian Conference on Evangelization, Suwon, South Korea- 24-31 August 1988)
 Propostio no. 29, as sited in John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 45.
 Propostio no. 29, as sited in John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 45.
 Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi,no. 73.
 FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 43.
 L’Osarvatore Romano, No.29, July- 20, 1994, p 7.
 Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi,no.46.
 John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 72.
 John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 47.
 John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 37.
 FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 33
 John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 82.
 FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 36
 FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 26.