Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25? What day of the week is Christmas in 2015 and 2016? Enjoy our everything-Christmas page with Christmas dates, the history of Christmas, and more facts and fun!
Meaning of Christmas Day
Christmas Day is an annual Christian festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Specifically, the meaning of Christmas comes in the remembrance and celebration of God’s presence in our world through Jesus, God made flesh.
Christmas is also extensively celebrated by non-Christians as a seasonal holiday, on which popular traditions such as gift-giving, feasting, and caroling take place.
History of Christmas Day
In ancient times, Celts divided the year into four sections marked by quarter days, the days of the two solstices and two equinoxes. The winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, was the fourth quarter day. It signaled a celebratory time, as the Sun began to reemerge and the land experienced a rebirth. Gradually, to conform more closely to the liturgical year of the Christian church, the fourth quarter day merged easily with the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ.
Why is Christmas Day on December 25?
As Christianity began to spread in the 4th century, the Christmas feast day was set on December 25 by Pope Julius I to align with the Roman pagan holiday Dies natalis solis invicti, “the birth of the invincible Sun.” Although the actual date of Christ’s birth is unknown, this is why Christmas is symbolically celebrated on the 25th of December since the 4th century.
Christmas Customs and Symbolism
Today’s rich mosaic of Christmas customs dates back through the ages. Evergreen branches were used to symbolize life in ancient solstice festivals, as they stayed green in winter. This tradition was absorbed by Christians, who interpreted the evergreens as the Paradise tree and began decorating them with apples.
The candles and lights associated with Christmas, meant to symbolize guiding beacons for the Christ child, may have evolved from the Yule log, which was lit to entice the Sun to return as part of the jol (Yule) festival in pagan Scandinavia.
Christmas Day Dates 2015
|2014||Thursday, December 25|
|2015||Friday, December 25|
|2016||Sunday, December 25|
Christmas Facts, Feasting, and Fun
- This year, December 25 marks the full Moon, so Santa Claus will have extra light on his ride! See our December Full Moon page.
- Check out some of our favorite holiday dishes on our Christmas recipes page!
- Learn how some Christmas firsts came about!
- We may not be Santa Claus, but we get lots of letters. Here are your Christmas questions answered!
- Make these easy kids’ Christmas cookies with the family.
Here at the The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we love our folklore, and so do our readers! A selection for your perusal:
Christmas in snow, Easter in mud.
A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard.
If December be changeable and mild, The whole winter will remain a child.
Thunder in December presages fine weather.
December cold with snow, good for rye.
If at Christmas ice hangs on the willow, clover may be cut at Easter.
As many mince pies as you taste at Christmas, so many happy months will you have.
Here are some of our favorite quotations. Do any speak to you?
Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you!
All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good-will henceforth from heaven to earth
begin and never cease!
Granny’s come to our house, And ho! my lawzy-daisy! All the childern round the place Is ist a-runnin’ crazy! –James Whitcomb Riley
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
–Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Darling of the world is come,
And fit it is we find a room
To welcome Him.
The nobler part
Of all the house here is the heart.
Hark, how all the Welkin rings,
‘Glory to the King of Kings’;
Peace on Earth, and Mercy mild,
God and sinners reconcil’d.
We wish all our readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas!