Kiss

The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, 19th century.

A kiss (from Old English cyssan "to kiss", in turn from coss "a kiss", perhaps onomatopoeic) is the touching of the lips to some other thing, usually another person. Science of kissing is called Philematology.

Kissing is a learned behaviour, related to the grooming behaviour seen between other animals. Many non-human primates also exhibit kissing behaviour.

Kissing as affection

In modern Western culture, kissing is most commonly an expression of affection.

Between people of close acquaintance, a kiss, often reciprocal, is offered as a greeting or a good-bye. This kind of kiss is typically made by brief contact of puckered lips to the skin of the cheek or no contact at all, and merely performed in the air near the cheek with the cheeks touching. Such kissing is a common greeting in European and Latin American countries between a man and a woman or between two women. Relatives may kiss children to comfort them or show affection, and vice versa.

As an expression of romantic affection or sexual desire, kissing involves two people kissing one another on the lips, usually with much more intensity, and for a considerably longer period of time. In more passionate kissing couples may open their mouths, suck on each others' lips, or move their tongues into each others' mouths (see French kissing). Sexualized kissing may also involve one person kissing another on various parts of the body.

In romantic and sexual kissing, the physical sensations are often of primary importance.

Kissing as symbolism

A symbolic kiss

When not an expression of affection, a kiss is a largely symbolic gesture in that the purpose of the kiss is to convey a meaning, such as salutations or subordination, rather than to experience the physical sensations associated with kissing. Kisses on the cheek as salutations are traditional in many parts of continental Europe, and the number of kisses, alternating cheeks, depends on which region one comes from.

Kissing may also be used to signify reverence and subordination, as in kissing the ring of a king or pope. A kiss can also be rude or done for the sake of irritating or proving one's superiority. A rude kiss or a kiss with a smack is referred to, in the USA, as a buss.

A more ominous use of the kiss is as a symbol of condemnation as may be observed when a crime lord kisses an underling, in effect imposing a sentence of death upon that person, the ultimate "goodbye kiss" or the "kiss of death."

The term Kissing Hands is used to formally describe the appointment of the senior state figures to office by British monarchs. Though in the past, the monarch's hand was actually kissed, this is no longer so. When figures such as the British Prime Minister, cabinet members and diplomatics are formally appointed, they are said to have Kissed Hands. (Kissing the hand is still practised as a romantic flourish, especially in Latin countries.)

Man kissing boy
Miyagawa Isshô, ca. 1750; One of ten panels on shudo themes from a shunga-style painted hand scroll. Private collection.

Other uses

The term is also used for expressions of affection that do not involve the lips. The "Eskimo Kiss" is executed by the two individuals gently rubbing the tips of their noses together — in the Maori culture of New Zealand this is called a hongi. A "butterfly kiss" consists of two people putting their eyes close to each other and fluttering their eyelashes upon one another's.

A kiss can be "blown" using actions of the hand and the mouth. This is used to convey affection usually while parting, when the partners are physically distant but can view each other. Blown kisses are also used when a popular person wishes to convey affection to a large crowd or audience.

The kiss does not exist in all cultures, as certain societies find it repugnant.

Young couple kiss in Minnesota, 1900

Asymmetry in kissing

In order to avoid clashing noses, a couple will often turn their faces to one side or another when kissing, so that their heads are at an angle from one another. Often, to make this more comfortable, one person, sitting upright, will support another, perhaps across their lap and in their arms, thus combining hugging and kissing. The person supporting the other is most likely taking the more active role in kissing the other. Writing in Nature, psychologist Oner Güntürkün observed couples kissing in public places such as airports and parks, and showed that the direction of turning is more frequently to the right than the left by a 2:1 ratio. Güntürkün ascribed this asymmetry to a neonatal right side preference.

(data from Nature 421, 711 (13 February 2003); doi:10.1038/421711a)

The anatomy of kissing

Kissing is a complex behaviour that requires significant coordination. The most important muscle involved is the orbicularis oris muscle; it is used to pucker the lips and informally known as the kissing muscle. The tongue can also be an important part of the kiss.

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt.

Kisses in history, art and literature

  • In the gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss — a subversive use of the kiss, as it is a symbol of affection.
  • The last words of British naval commander Horatio, Lord Nelson, are said to have been 'Kiss me Hardy!' to one of his subordinates.
  • In the fairytale Sleeping Beauty and the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, a romantic kiss is used by a male to awaken or breathe life into a female, which feminist critics have interpreted as symbolising the suspect idea that women don't have much of a life unless their sexuality is awakened through the attention of men. The Matrix turns the tables on this motif when Trinity kisses the sleeping main character Neo, bringing him back to life at the end of the movie.
  • In the Frog Prince fairytale, it is the male who is transformed from frog to man by a romantic kiss.
  • Gustav Klimt painted a work entitled The Kiss.
  • The Turkish 1997 hit song Simarik has a chorus that ends with two kiss sounds. The Australian cover version is even titled Kiss Kiss.
  • Auguste Rodin created the sculpture The Kiss (Le Baiser).
  • In Lady and the Tramp, while Lady and Tramp were both eating the end of a noodle at the same time, their lips end up touching.

Trivia

  • The longest recorded kiss took place in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 5, 1999, between Karmit Tsubera and Dror Orpaz. It lasted 30 hours and 45 minutes.

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The tongue can also be an important part of the kiss. The winter movie season spans from the first week of November until mid-February. The most important muscle involved is the orbicularis oris muscle; it is used to pucker the lips and informally known as the kissing muscle. Christmas-specific movies generally open in late November or early December as their themes and images are not so popular once the season is over; often the home video releases of these films are delayed until the following Christmas season. Kissing is a complex behaviour that requires significant coordination. This is the second most lucrative season for the industry after summer. (data from Nature 421, 711 (13 February 2003); doi:10.1038/421711a). In North America, film studios release many high budget movies in the holiday season, many of them being Christmas films, fantasy movies or high-tone dramas with rich production values, both to capture holiday crowds and to position themselves for Academy Awards.

Güntürkün ascribed this asymmetry to a neonatal right side preference. This analysis is sometimes used to discuss possible flaws in current microeconomic theory. Writing in Nature, psychologist Oner Güntürkün observed couples kissing in public places such as airports and parks, and showed that the direction of turning is more frequently to the right than the left by a 2:1 ratio. It is estimated that in 2001 Christmas resulted in a $4 billion deadweight loss as a result of the gift-giving [5]. The person supporting the other is most likely taking the more active role in kissing the other. 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. Often, to make this more comfortable, one person, sitting upright, will support another, perhaps across their lap and in their arms, thus combining hugging and kissing. Most economists agree, however, that Christmas produces a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory, associated with the surge in gift-giving.

In order to avoid clashing noses, a couple will often turn their faces to one side or another when kissing, so that their heads are at an angle from one another. Frustrations over these issues and others can lead to a rise in Christmastime social problems. The kiss does not exist in all cultures, as certain societies find it repugnant. They accuse the Christmas season of being dominated by money and greed at the expense of the holiday's more important values. Blown kisses are also used when a popular person wishes to convey affection to a large crowd or audience. Many religious Christians, as well as anti-consumerists, decry the commercialization of Christmas. This is used to convey affection usually while parting, when the partners are physically distant but can view each other. The economic impact of Christmas continues after the holiday, with Christmas sales and New Year's sales, when stores sell off excess inventories.

A kiss can be "blown" using actions of the hand and the mouth. In the United Kingdom, the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 prevents all large shops from trading on Christmas Day. A "butterfly kiss" consists of two people putting their eyes close to each other and fluttering their eyelashes upon one another's. More businesses and stores close on Christmas Day than any other day of the year in most countries - in most communities, virtually nothing is open or operating. The "Eskimo Kiss" is executed by the two individuals gently rubbing the tips of their noses together — in the Maori culture of New Zealand this is called a hongi. In the US, the Christmas shopping season now begins on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The term is also used for expressions of affection that do not involve the lips. Sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas and shops introduce new products as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies.

(Kissing the hand is still practised as a romantic flourish, especially in Latin countries.). Christmas is typically the largest annual stimulus for the economies of celebrating nations. When figures such as the British Prime Minister, cabinet members and diplomatics are formally appointed, they are said to have Kissed Hands. Television networks add Christmas themes to their standard programming, run traditional holiday movies, and produce a variety of Christmas specials. Though in the past, the monarch's hand was actually kissed, this is no longer so. Among other classical pieces inspired by Christmas are the Nutcracker Suite, adapted from Tchaikovsky's ballet score, and Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). The term Kissing Hands is used to formally describe the appointment of the senior state figures to office by British monarchs. Radio stations broadcast Christmas carols and Christmas songs, including classical music such as the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah.

A more ominous use of the kiss is as a symbol of condemnation as may be observed when a crime lord kisses an underling, in effect imposing a sentence of death upon that person, the ultimate "goodbye kiss" or the "kiss of death.". Radio and television programs have also aggressively pursued entertainment and ratings through their cultivation of Christmas themes. A rude kiss or a kiss with a smack is referred to, in the USA, as a buss. The story behind the Christmas carol Silent Night and the story Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus is among the most well-known of these. A kiss can also be rude or done for the sake of irritating or proving one's superiority. A few true stories have also become enduring Christmas tales themselves. Kissing may also be used to signify reverence and subordination, as in kissing the ring of a king or pope. The humorous A Christmas Story (1983) has become a holiday classic and is shown for 24 hours straight from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day on TNT/TBS.

Kisses on the cheek as salutations are traditional in many parts of continental Europe, and the number of kisses, alternating cheeks, depends on which region one comes from. Perhaps the most famous animated production is A Charlie Brown Christmas wherein Charlie Brown tries to address his feeling of dissatisfaction with the holidays by trying to find a deeper meaning to them. When not an expression of affection, a kiss is a largely symbolic gesture in that the purpose of the kiss is to convey a meaning, such as salutations or subordination, rather than to experience the physical sensations associated with kissing. On Christmas Eve, a guardian angel finds him in despair and prevents him from committing suicide, by magically showing him how much he meant to the world around him. In romantic and sexual kissing, the physical sensations are often of primary importance. Its hero, George Bailey, is a businessman who sacrificed his dreams to help his community. Sexualized kissing may also involve one person kissing another on various parts of the body. A notable example is the film It's a Wonderful Life, which turns the theme of A Christmas Carol on its head.

In more passionate kissing couples may open their mouths, suck on each others' lips, or move their tongues into each others' mouths (see French kissing). Since the 1980s, many video editions are sold and resold every year during the holiday season. As an expression of romantic affection or sexual desire, kissing involves two people kissing one another on the lips, usually with much more intensity, and for a considerably longer period of time. Many Christmas stories have been popularized as movies and TV specials. Relatives may kiss children to comfort them or show affection, and vice versa. Unlike the principals of Anglophone Christmas lore, she meets a tragic end. Such kissing is a common greeting in European and Latin American countries between a man and a woman or between two women. She dares not go home because her father is drunk.

This kind of kiss is typically made by brief contact of puckered lips to the skin of the cheek or no contact at all, and merely performed in the air near the cheek with the cheeks touching. A destitute little slum girl walks barefoot through snow-covered streets on Christmas Eve, trying in vain to sell her matches, and peeking in at the celebrations in the homes of the more fortunate. Between people of close acquaintance, a kiss, often reciprocal, is offered as a greeting or a good-bye. Andersen's The Little Match Girl. In modern Western culture, kissing is most commonly an expression of affection. C. . Some Scandinavian Christmas stories are less cheery than Dickens's, notably H.

Many non-human primates also exhibit kissing behaviour. Although Christmas icons have become widespread through television and movies, Christmas is still a time when national traditions are strong, and both Santa's appearance and the stories told vary from country to country. Kissing is a learned behaviour, related to the grooming behaviour seen between other animals. Her figure was further developed in 1931 by Haddon Sundblom for the Coca-Cola Company. Science of kissing is called Philematology. In 1881, the Swedish magazine Ny Illustrerad Tidning published Viktor Rydberg's poem Tomten featuring the first painting by Jenny Nyström of the traditional Swedish mythical character tomte which she turned into the friendly white-bearded figure associated with Christmas. A kiss (from Old English cyssan "to kiss", in turn from coss "a kiss", perhaps onomatopoeic) is the touching of the lips to some other thing, usually another person. or Clement Clarke Moore and popularly known as "The Night Before Christmas") supplied the rotund Santa and his sleigh landing on rooftops on Christmas Eve.

It lasted 30 hours and 45 minutes. Nicholas" ((Sentinel, 1823, authorship by either Henry Livingston Jr. The longest recorded kiss took place in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 5, 1999, between Karmit Tsubera and Dror Orpaz. "A Visit from St. In Lady and the Tramp, while Lady and Tramp were both eating the end of a noodle at the same time, their lips end up touching. Just as Dickens shaped Christmas traditions, 19th century cartoonist Thomas Nast gave Santa his familiar form (Harper's Weekly, 1863). Auguste Rodin created the sculpture The Kiss (Le Baiser). Dickens is sometimes credited with shaping the modern Christmas of English-speaking countries of Christmas trees, plum pudding, and Christmas carols with shaping the movement to close businesses on Christmas Day.

The Australian cover version is even titled Kiss Kiss. Scrooge rejects compassion and philanthropy, and Christmas as a symbol of both, until he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, who show him the consequences of his ways. The Turkish 1997 hit song Simarik has a chorus that ends with two kiss sounds. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the tale of curmudgeonly miser Ebenezer Scrooge. Gustav Klimt painted a work entitled The Kiss. The Nutcracker tells of a nutcracker that comes to life in a young German girl's dream. In the Frog Prince fairytale, it is the male who is transformed from frog to man by a romantic kiss. Among the most popular are Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker and Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol.

The Matrix turns the tables on this motif when Trinity kisses the sleeping main character Neo, bringing him back to life at the end of the movie. Several have become part of the Christmas tradition in their countries of origin. In the fairytale Sleeping Beauty and the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, a romantic kiss is used by a male to awaken or breathe life into a female, which feminist critics have interpreted as symbolising the suspect idea that women don't have much of a life unless their sexuality is awakened through the attention of men. Many fictional Christmas stories capture the spirit of Christmas in a modern-day fairy tale, often with heart-touching stories of a Christmas miracle. The last words of British naval commander Horatio, Lord Nelson, are said to have been 'Kiss me Hardy!' to one of his subordinates.
one thing that is enjoyed during the christmas season is a smoked turkey with its pelvis bone broken at a 90 degree angle and stuffed to full capacity with your breast milk and your child's toenail clippings. In the gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss — a subversive use of the kiss, as it is a symbol of affection. The cliché recreation for them is "movies and Chinese food"; movie theaters remaining open to bring in holiday box office dollars and Chinese (and presumably Buddhist, et al.) establishments being less likely to close for the "big day".

Non-Christians in predominantly Christian nations may have few choices for entertainment around Christmas, as stores close and friends depart for vacations. Because of holiday celebrations involving alcohol, drunk driving-related fatalities may also increase. However, the peak months for suicide are May and June. It is widely believed that suicides and murders spike during the holiday season.

This increases the demands for counseling services during the period. Because of the focus on celebration, friends, and family, people who are without these, or who have recently suffered losses, are more likely to suffer from depression during Christmas. Candy and treats are also part of the Christmas celebration in many countries. In some regions, particularly in Eastern Europe, these family feasts are preceded by a period of fasting.

On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, a special meal of Christmas dishes is usually served, for which there are different traditional menus in many country. Others are reminded by the holiday of their kinship with the rest of humanity and do volunteer work or hold fundraising drives for charities. Groups may go caroling, visiting neighborhood homes to sing Christmas songs. Christmas pageants, common in Latin America, may include a retelling of the story of the birth of Christ.

In many countries, businesses, schools, and communities have Christmas parties and dances during the several weeks before Christmas Day. in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, such display is banned on the grounds that the symbols are of Christianity (which is proscribed). Although Christmas decorations, such as the tree, are essentially secular in character in some parts of the world, e.g. Donnelly).

In 1984 the US Supreme Court ruled that a city-owned Christmas display including a Christian nativity scene was depicting the historical origins of Christmas and was not in violation of the First Amendment (Lynch v. This practice has led to much adjudication, as some say it amounts to the government endorsing a religion. In the US, decorations once commonly included religious themes. Municipalities often sponsor decorations as well, hanging Christmas banners from street lights or placing Christmas trees in the town square.

Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Since the 19th century, the traditional Christmas flower has been the winter-blooming poinsettia. In North and South America and to a lesser extent Europe and Australia, it is traditional to decorate the outside of houses with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures. Decorating a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments and the decoration of the interior of the home with garlands and evergreen foliage, particularly holly and mistletoe, are common traditions.

Many families enclose an annual family photograph or a family newsletter summarizing the adventures and accomplishments of family members during the preceding year. Christmas cards are extremely popular in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States, and Europe, in part as a way to maintain relationships with distant relatives, friends, and business acquaintances. Recently there have also been declarations of Christmas peace for forest animals in many cities and municipalities, restricting hunting during the holiday. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city.".

"Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behaviour shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offence separately. The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme (Martin Luther's Ein` feste Burg ist unser Gott) and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll:. It is broadcast in Finnish radio (since 1935) and television and nowadays also in some foreign countries. The declaration takes place on the Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official Christmas City and former capital, at noon on Christmas Eve.

Declaration of Christmas Peace has been a tradition in Finland from the Middle Ages every year, except in 1939 due to the war. Until recently, gifts were given in the UK to non-family members on Boxing Day. In most of the world, Christmas gifts are given at night on Christmas Eve or in the morning on Christmas Day. One of the many customs of gift timing is suggested by the song "Twelve Days of Christmas", celebrating an old British tradition of gifts each day from Christmas to Epiphany.

In Russia, Grandfather Frost brings presents on New Year's Eve, and these are opened on the same night. In Finland Joulupukki personally meets children and gives gifts on December 24. In Poland, Santa Claus (Polish: Święty Mikołaj) gives gifts at two occasions: on the night of December 5 (so that children find them on the morning of December 6) and on Christmas Eve, December 24, (so that children find gifts that same day). In other countries, including Spain, gifts are brought by the Magi at Epiphany on January 6.

The main day for gift giving, however, is December 24, when gifts are brought by Santa Claus or are placed under the Christmas tree. In much of Germany, children put shoes out on window sills on the night of December 5, and find them filled with candy and small gifts the next morning. In such places, including the Netherlands, Christmas Day remains more a religious holiday. In many countries, Saint Nicholas's Day remains the principal day for gift giving.

Gift giving is not restricted to these special gift-bringers, as family members and friends also bestow gifts on each other. In other countries, children place their empty shoes out for Santa to fill on the night before Christmas, or for Saint Nicholas to fill on December 5 before his feast day the next day. In the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada children hang a Christmas stocking by the fireplace on Christmas Eve because Santa is said to come down the chimney the night before Christmas to fill them. In many countries, children leave empty containers for Santa to fill with small gifts such as toys, candy, or fruit.

Many shopping malls in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia have a holiday mall Santa Claus whom children can visit to ask for presents. Claus. In some versions, elves in a toy workshop make the holiday toys, and in some he is married to Mrs. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter.

The French equivalent of Santa, Père Noël, evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image Haddon Sundblom painted for a worldwide Coca-Cola advertising campaign in the 1930s. Those who are on the bad list and whose behaviour has not improved before Christmas are said to receive a booby prize, such as a piece of coal or a switch with which their parents beat them, rather than presents. When it gets closer to Christmas time, parents use the belief to encourage children to behave well. Throughout the year, Santa adds names of children to either the good or bad list depending on their behaviour.

One belief in the United Kingdom, United States, and other countries passed down through the generations is the idea of lists of good children and bad children. He spends the rest of the year making toys and keeping lists on the behaviour of the children. He then climbs down the chimney, leaves gifts for the children, and eats the food they leave for him. In the Anglo-American tradition, this jovial fellow arrives on Christmas Eve on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, and lands on the roofs of houses.

In North America, other colonists adopted the feast of Sinterklaas brought by the Dutch into their Christmas holiday, and Sinterklaas became Santa Claus, or Saint Nick, known in some West African and the UK countries as Father Christmas. The Dutch modeled a gift-giving Saint Nicholas on the eve of his feast day on December 6. (Catholic Encyclopedia - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11063b.htm). Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from his relics.

To this day, an oily substance known as Manna di S. His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari. In 1087, Italian merchants stole his deceased body at Myra and brought it to Bari in Italy. He died on December 6 of 345 or 352.

He may have been present at the Council of Nicaea, though there is no record of his attendance. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Diocletian and released after the accession of Constantine. He made a pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine in his youth and soon thereafter became Bishop of Myra. The concept of a mythical figure who brings gifts to children derives from Saint Nicholas, a bishop of Myra in fourth century Lycia, Asia Minor.

Gift-giving is a near-universal part of Christmas celebrations. Since the customs of Christmas celebration largely evolved in northern Europe, many are associated with the Northern Hemisphere winter, the motifs of which are prominent in Christmas decorations and in Santa Claus stories. Christmas customs and traditions transmitted through mass culture have been adopted by Christians and non-Christians alike, particularly in North America. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services may include a midnight mass or a Mass of the Nativity, and feature Christmas carols and hymns.

(In most western churches, Advent starts the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day, and thus can last for 21 to 28 days.) These observations may include Advent carols and Advent calendars, sometimes containing sweets and chocolate for children. The religious celebrations begin with Advent, the anticipation of Christ's birth, around the start of December. In South Korea, Christmas is celebrated as an official holiday. Christmas is also known as bada din (the big day) in Hindi, and revolves there around Santa Claus and shopping.

Japan has largely adopted the western Santa Claus for its secular Christmas celebration, but their New Year's Day is considered the more important holiday. This clashes with the traditional winter iconography, resulting in anachronisms such as a red fur-coated Santa Claus surfing in for a turkey barbecue on Australia's Bondi Beach. In Commonwealth countries in the southern hemisphere, Christmas is still celebrated on 25 December, despite this being the height of their summer season. Christmas was not widely celebrated in New England until after the middle of the 19th Century.

Incidentally, this was the practice of the Puritans in 17th and 18th Century England and the American Colonies. Several Christian denominations, notably the Jehovah's Witnesses, some Puritan groups, and some fundamentalist Christians, view Christmas as a pagan holiday not sanctioned by the Bible and refuse to celebrate or recognize it in any way. Places where conservative Christian theocracies flourished, as in Cromwellian England and in the early New England colonies, were among those where celebrations were suppressed.[4] After the Russian Revolution, Christmas celebrations were banned in the Soviet Union for the next seventy-five years. The dynamic relationship between religious and governmental authorities and celebrators of Christmas continued through the years.

Rather than attempting to suppress every pagan tradition, Pope Gregory I allowed Christian missionaries to synthesize them with Christianity, allowing many pagan traditions to become a part of Christmas.[3]. This celebration of the winter solstice was widespread and popular in northern Europe long before the arrival of Christianity, and the word for Christmas in the Scandinavian languages is still today the pagan jul (=yule). These practices and symbols were adapted or appropriated by Christian missionaries from the earlier Germanic pagan midwinter holiday of Yule. Most of the familiar traditional practices and symbols of Christmas originated in Germanic countries, including the now omnipresent Christmas tree, the Christmas ham, the Yule Log, holly, mistletoe, and the giving of presents to friends and relatives.

A plethora of customs with secular, religious, or national aspects surround Christmas, varying from country to country. In Canadian French, the December 26 holiday is generally referred to as Lendemain de Noël (which literally means "the day after Christmas"). Stephen's Day. In many European and Commonwealth countries, December 26 is referred to as Boxing Day, while in Finland, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Austria and Catalonia (Spain) it is known as St.

In the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, and Poland, Christmas Day and the following day are called First and Second Christmas Day. Countries that celebrate Christmas on December 25 recognize the previous day as Christmas Eve, and vary on the naming of December 26. In the Philippines, radio stations usually start playing Christmas music during what is called the "-ber months" (September, October, etc.); this usually marks the start of the Christmas season. It often extends beyond Christmas Day up to New Year's Day, this later holiday having its own parties.

In practice, the Christmas festive period has grown longer in some countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, and now begins many weeks before Christmas, allowing more time for shopping and get-togethers. Swedish children still celebrate a party, throwing out the Christmas tree (julgransplundring), on the 20th day of Christmas (January 13, Knut's Day). Medieval laws in Sweden declared a Christmas peace (julefrid) to be twenty days, during which fines for robbery and manslaughter were doubled. This period corresponds with the liturgical season of Christmas.

These twelve days of Christmas, a period of feasting and merrymaking, end on Twelfth Night, the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany. In the United Kingdom, the Christmas season traditionally runs for twelve days beginning on Christmas Day. Dates for the more secular aspects of the Christmas celebration are similarly varied. and Canada, some Orthodox dioceses allow the parish priest or parish to decide which of the two calendars (i.e., Gregorian versus old Julian) to follow at the parish level and hence the timing of Christmas Day.

The Orthodox churches begin preparing for Christmas with a fast that begins 40 days before Christmas and ends with Christmas, dubbed the "Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ." In the U.S. This calendrical difference has led to confusion on the part of those unfamiliar with the older calendar. This date results from their having accepted neither the reforms of the Gregorian calendar nor the Revised Julian calendar, with their ecclesiastic December 25 thus falling on the secular date of January 7 from 1900 to 2099. The majority of Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7.

Christmas is now celebrated on December 25 in Roman Catholic, Protestant, and some Eastern Orthodox churches, such as the Greek, Bulgarian and Romanian Orthodox Church. As with the previous theory, proponents of this theory hold that Christmas was a date of significance to Christians before it was a date of significance to pagans. (Tradition fixed it on March 25.) The birth of Jesus would then have been on December 25, nine months after his conception. If John's birth was on the date ascribed by tradition, June 24, then the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, said by the Gospel account to have occurred three month's before John's birth, would have been in late March.

If John's conception occurred on Yom Kippur in late September, then his birth would have been in late June. This was due to a belief (not included in the Gospel account) that Zechariah was a high priest and that his vision occurred during the high priest's annual entry into the Holy of Holies. The apparition of the angel Gabriel to Zechariah, announcing that he was to be the father of John the Baptist, was believed to have occurred on Yom Kippur. Catholic Encyclopedia in sources) believe this calculation to be unreliable as it is based on a string of assumptions.

However, most scholars (e.g. As it is implied that John the Baptist could only have been conceived during that particular week, and as his conception is believed to be tied to that of Jesus, it is claimed that an approximate date of December 25 can be arrived at for the birth of Jesus. Some believe that this almanac lists the week when John the Baptist's father served as a high priest. Additional calculations are made based on the six-year almanac of priestly rotations, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

23). 4, Ch. Hippolytus, who was already knowledgeably defending the faith in writing at the start of the third century, said that Christ was born Wednesday, December 25, in the 42nd year of Augustus' reign (see his Commentary on Daniel, circa 204, Bk. St.

They reasoned that Jesus died on an anniversary of his conception, so the date of his birth was nine months after the date of Good Friday, either December 25 or January 6. Early Christians sought to calculate the date of Christ's birth based on the idea that Old Testament prophets died either on an anniversary of their birth or of their conception. Under the old Julian calendar, the popular choice of 5 BC for the year of Jesus' birth would place 25 Kislev at November 25. According to one tradition, Jesus was born during Hanukkah (25 Kislev into the beginning of Tevet).

Christmas is still known as Yule (or: Jul) in Scandinavian countries. Some Christmas traditions, particularly those in Scandinavia, have their origin in the Germanic Yule celebration. At times it was forbidden by Protestant churches until after the 1800s because of its association with Catholicism. Historians are unsure exactly when Christians first began celebrating the Nativity of Christ.

Early Christians chiefly celebrated the Epiphany, when the baby Jesus was visited by the Magi (and this is still a primary time for celebration in Argentina, Spain and Armenia). resurrection, virgin mother etc). This is not to suggest that the Mithraic cult was the only factor in this syncretization, many pagan gods had similar aspects of mythology (e.g. At that time, in every town and city, in every military garrison and outpost from Syria to the Scottish frontier, was to be found a Mithraeum and officiating priests of the cult.

The Mithraic cult peaked around the year 300 AD when it became the official religion of the empire. He was killed and resurrected, returned to heaven on the spring equinox after a last meal with his 12 disciples (representing the signs of the zodiac), eating "mizd" - a piece of bread marked with a cross (an almost universal symbol of the sun). He was reputed to have raised the dead, healed the sick and cast out demons. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and magi.

Mithras was born on December 25th of virgin birth, the son of the primary Persian deity, Ahura-Mazda. The similarities between Jesus and Mithras are many. Another extremely popular cult of Persian origin, in those days was that of Mithras. [See Duchesne (1902) and Talley (1986).].

Thus, rather than the date of Christmas being appropriated from pagans by Christians, the opposite is held to have occurred. They reasoned that Jesus died on an anniversary of the Incarnation (his conception), so the date of his birth would have been nine months after the date of Good Friday — either December 25 or January 6. To then calculate the date of Jesus' birth, they followed the ancient idea that Old Testament prophets died at an "integral age" — either an anniversary of their birth or of their conception. Since the exact date of Jesus' death is not stated in the Gospels, early Christians sought to calculate it, and arrived at either March 25 or April 6.

An alternative theory asserts that the date of Christmas is based on the date of Good Friday, the day Jesus died. In Rome, it can only be confirmed as being mentioned in a document from approximately 350 but without any mention of sanction by Emperor Constantine. Perusal of historical records indicates that the first mention of such a feast in Constantinople was not until 379, under Gregory Nazianzus. Some scholars maintain that December 25 was only adopted in the 4th century as a Christian holiday after Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity to encourage a common religious festival for both Christians and pagans.

In order to make it easier for the Romans to convert to Christianity without missing out on their festivities, Pope Julius I ordered in 350 that the birth of Christ be celebrated on the same date. In the Roman Empire, the celebrations of Saturn during the week of the solstice, with their climax on December 25th, were the main social event. John Chrysostom urged the community to unite in celebrating Christ's birth on December 25, a part of the community having already kept it on that day for at least ten years. At Antioch, probably in 386, St.

In Jerusalem, the fourth century pilgrim Egeria from Bordeaux witnessed the Feast of the Presentation, forty days after January 6, which must have been the date of the Nativity there. The December feast reached Egypt in the fifth century. The earliest evidence of celebration is from Alexandria, in about 200, when Clement of Alexandria says that certain Egyptian theologians "over curiously" assign not just the year but also the actual day of Christ's birth as 25 Pachon (May 20) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus.[2] By the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325, the Alexandrian church had fixed a dies Nativitatis et Epiphaniae. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Christmas is not included in Irenaeus's nor Tertullian's list of Christian feasts, the earliest known lists of Christian feasts.

It was only necessary for them to joyfully greet the birth of the Son rather than the Sun." Note that in Latin, the words for "son" ('filius') and "sun" ('sol') do not in the least bit resemble each other, making such pseudo-linguistic comparisons patently absurd. As Isaac Asimov comments in his Guide to the Bible, "[C]onverts could join Christianity without giving up their Saturnalian happiness. These and other winter festivities continued through January 1, the festival of Kalends, when Romans marked the day of the new moon and the first day of the month as well as the beginning of the religious year. Such traditions resemble those of Christmas and are used to establish a link between the two holidays.

During Saturnalia the Romans feasted, postponed all business and warfare, exchanged gifts, and temporarily freed their slaves. This festival lasted for seven days and included the winter solstice, which according to the Julian calendar, fell on December 25. In a festival called Saturnalia, they glorified past days when the god Saturn ruled. The Romans honored Saturn, the ancient god of agriculture, each year beginning on December 17.

The context in which Christianity, and thus Christmas, formed was during the Roman Empire. Crosses and circles are found worldwide as solar symbol, whether or not a particular culture practiced crucifixion. Nevertheless, there is no record of the Celts actually ever practicing crucifixion or stories of any crucifixion of a "Celtic Sun God" before 19th century source. It is said that this was the origin of the Celtic cross, symbolising the crucified sun god, thus making it a few thousand years older than Christianity.

It is alleged that, according to Celtic Mythology, the sun god was crucified on the winter solstice, and three days later, as the days grew longer again, he rose from the dead. Other cultures believed that their deity died on this day, only to return for another cycle. These cultures believed that their sun god was born on December 21st, the shortest day of the year, and that the days grew longer as their god aged. From early antiquity, the days following the winter solstice on December 21 were of particular significance to cultures who worshipped sun gods.

The theories for the reason Christmas is celebrated on December 25 are many and varied; none are universally accepted. Many different dates have been suggested for the celebration of Christmas. Through the years astronomers and historians have offered conflicting explanations of what combination of traceable celestial events might explain the appearance of a giant star that had never before been seen.[1]. They are supposed to have come from Arabia or Persia, where they might have obtained their particular gifts.

The Magi, who Matthew also reports seeing a giant star, have been variously interpreted as wise men or as kings. Some Christmas carols refer to the shepherds observing a bright star directly over Bethlehem, and following it to the birthplace. Another aspect of Christ's birth which has passed from the gospels into popular lore is the announcement by angels to nearby shepherds of Jesus's birth. After Herod's death, Jesus and his family return from Egypt, but fearing the hostility of the new Judean king (Herod's son Archelaus) they go instead to Galilee and settle in Nazareth.

Matthew then reports that the family next flees to Egypt to escape the murderous rampage of Herod, who has decided to have all children of Bethlehem under the age of two killed in order to eliminate any local rivals to his power. Resolving to hinder the ruler, they go home without telling Herod of the success of their mission. While staying the night, the wise men have a dream that contains a divine warning that King Herod has murderous designs on the child. They present Jesus with treasures of "gold, frankincense, and myrrh".

Further inquiry leads them to Bethlehem of Judea and the home of Mary and Joseph. The wise men, or Magi, first arrive in Jerusalem and report to the king of Judea, Herod the Great, that they have seen a star, now called the Star of Bethlehem, heralding the birth of a king. Matthew mentions no trek to Bethlehem from Nazareth. Matthew's gospel begins by telling the genealogy and virgin birth of Jesus, and then moves to the coming of the Wise Men from the East to Bethlehem.

Luke's Gospel has some references to historic events at this time, saying "In these days the Roman emperor Augustus ordered to excise a counting of all population in the world" (Lk 2,1), but the only known census was in the year AD 6. Jesus' being born in Bethlehem fulfills the prophecy of the Book of Micah. There Mary gives birth to Jesus. Finding no room in inns in the town, they set up lodgings in a stable in Bethlehem in Judea.

Shortly thereafter, she and her husband Joseph leave their home in Nazareth to travel about 150 kilometres (90 miles) to Joseph's ancestral home, Bethlehem, to enroll in the census ordered by the Roman emperor, Augustus. According to Luke, Mary learns from an angel that the Holy Spirit has caused her to be with child. The gospels of Mark and John do not address the childhood of Jesus, and those of Matthew and Luke highlight different events. The story of Christ's birth has been handed down for centuries, based mainly on the Christian gospels of Matthew and Luke.

. It is often abbreviated Xmas, probably because X resembles the Greek letter Χ (chi) which has often historically been used as an abbreviation for Christ (Χριστός in Greek). The word Christmas is a contraction of Christ's Mass, derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse. Various local and regional Christmas traditions are still practised, despite the widespread influence of American and British Christmas motifs disseminated by globalization, popular literature, television, and other media.

It is largely characterized by gifts being exchanged between friends and family members, and the appearance of Santa Claus. In Western countries, Christmas has become the most economically significant holiday of the year. Examples of this process are the northern European Yule, and the Winter Solstice celebration found in many older as well as recent pagan celebrations. Many Christmas traditions originated with pre-Christian observances that were syncretised into Christianity.

Christmas has also acquired many secular aspects, which are sometimes celebrated more often than the birth of Jesus. Efforts to decide upon a date on which to celebrate his birth began some centuries later. Christ's birth, or nativity, was said by his followers to fulfill the prophecies of Judaism that a messiah would come, from the house of David, to redeem the world from sin. (In most Eastern Orthodox Churches, even where the civil calendar is the Gregorian, it is observed according to the Julian calendar, by which that date however coincides with the predominant reckoning of 7 January.) It is celebrated by most Christians to mark the birth of Jesus, which is believed to have occurred in Bethlehem in the Roman Province of Judea between 6 BC and AD 6.

Christmas (literally, the Mass of Jesus Christ) is a traditional holiday observed on 25 December.

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