Byline: JOSE DAVID LAPUZ
THE Gospel on the first Christmas as told by St. Luke in Chapter 2, Verses 1-14 is "At that time, Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole world. This first census took place while Cyrinus was governor of Syria.
And all went to register each to his own town. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem - because he was of the house and family of David - to register with Mary, his engaged wife, who was with Child. But while they were there, the time came for the Child to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a crib because there was no place for them in the inn. And there were shepherds in the locality living in the fields and keeping night watch by turns over their flock. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very much afraid. And the angel said to them: 'Do not be afraid! I proclaim good news to you of a great joy which will be shared by the whole people: today, in the city of David, a Savior has been born to you, who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a crib.'"
"And suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host was with the angel, praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in high heaven, and on earth peace among men of goodwill.'"
We celebrate the Christmas mystery as happening to us and we embrace its mystical, mysterious effects with an open heart. Christmas is the major feast of Christendom, and we see Christmas more as an intimate family feast in which only a few - Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds and we with them - take part. And the hidden reality in this beautiful mystery is ultimately Jesus Christ and His saving action. He is present in the mystery of Christmas - Epiphany - Candlemass, constantly and ceaselessly interceding for us and communicating Himself in Holy symbols.
The origin of the festival of Christmas is unknown. Scholars and savants believe that it is derived in part from the pre-Christian rites of Germanic and Celtic tribesmen held in celebration of the winter solstice. Christmas festivals, generally observed by Christians since the 4th century, include heathen, paganist customs such as the use of holly, mistletoe, horse chestnut, dried red chillies, bunches of cinnamon, quills, Yule logs, and wassail bowls. The use of Christmas trees - with papery dried flowers and bracts and embellished with silver and golden paints and shimmering ribbons plus twinkling lights - probably originated among the Romans of pre-Christian times from whom it spread to the Germanic peoples and thence to the peoples of the British Isles. In later times, Christmas celebrate ions acquired a wide secular and social significance, expressed in many countries in the exchange of gifts and greeting cards and the suspension of school and work. Dutch settlers brought to the New World the custom of celebrating St. Nicholas' (Santa Claus) day on Christmas Eve.
Christmas has always been a happy children's holiday throughout the world.
In the United …