Wednesday, 1 February 2017

THEY CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS DAY TWICE AT BETHLEHEM!

One more Christmas has come and gone. It is known that Christmas is celebrated universally which has become the most popular festive season the world over. Christmas is derived from 'Christ-Mass' of  the church that celebrated the birth of Jesus in midnight. In fact no date of birth of Jesus is noted in Bible. For the first three centuries after Christianity was born, no Christmas was seen to be celebrated as recorded in history. When did we start it? How it was fixed on 25th of December?

Many of us may not know that it is not  necessarily done on 25th December each year, since Christmas is also celebrated on 7th January in many countries to this day. In Bethlehem, birth place of Jesus Christ, it is celebrated on both days-25th December and 7th January!Greece,Russia and Eastern Europe,Egypt,Serbia,Armenia,Georgia,Ethiopia....in 16 countries or so it is January while US, most of Europe and rest of the world it is on 25th December. Why it is so? A historical rather than theological musings on the subject.





Christmas- when was it started....
Palestine, where Jesus was born was of Jewish society but under the rule of Roman Empire, the reigning world power those days. Romans believed in their own Gods. Their might never allowed them to tolerate any other religion or God which questioned their belief and authority. In Palestine the local Jews neither  liked the teachings of Jesus Christ, a Jew by birth. They thought he was questioning their very beliefs and traditions. Story of Jesus is too well known to all of us to be repeated here.After crucifixion of Jesus, his disciples decided to spread His message to rest of the world  and accessible to them. Few of them went to Greece,Egypt,Syria,Turkey,Ethiopia,...... where one will find some of earliest Christians. St. Peter went to Rome. St. Thomas reached India. Almost all of the disciples of Jesus were killed tragically by others in foreign lands, a historical fact little known to others.

In Rome early Christians were persecuted by the emperors who proclaimed that the new religion was evil. Fed to lions and the sorts.St.Peter is believed to have been crucified on the cross. He chose to be on an upside position on the cross-did not want to emulate position of his master, it is said. Similar was the fate of any new convert of Christianity anywhere in the Roman kingdom for few decades which covered almost half of the world. Then something unbelievable-Christian believers call it a miracle- which is recorded in history happened. The Roman Emperor himself became a Christian! Emperor Constantine declared Christianity as the empire favored religion!!It was him in the year 336 who celebrated birth day of Jesus for the first time. Few years later Pope Julius I declared Christmas day on every 25th December. The date was so fixed as per the Julian calendar created by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.

Pope Gregory ,Gregorian calendar and Eastern Churches..
Pope Gregory Xiii was interested very much in Astronomy, unusual for a Pope. Based on his studies on Vernal Equinox he came out with a correction of 10 days(13 days for some) to existing Julian calendar. He decreed that 5th October will be called 15th October in AD 1582.Roman Catholic church accepted it.Eventually in the world as a whole this calendar became the most popular albeit Hindus,Muslims,Buddhists,Jews....all have their own calendars but follow the Gregorian calendar in general.

Eastern churches-Orthodox,Coptic,Assyrian,Ethiopian,Russian,Armenian-independent from Pope, opposed it and wanted to continue the old Julian calendar for celebrating Christmas. They adhere to their stand to this day in those countries where they are! Thus 25th December each year of Gregorian calendar is only 15th December as per Julian calendar- the Eastern church Christmas Day falls on 6th January.

In Bethlehem and other holy places in Palestine and in Israel , they celebrate Christmas on both days respectively, perhaps the only place in the world to do so. When I visited there 12 years back what I could make out was that physical holdings of Eastern Christianity factions over holy places are much more than those by Papal to this day.

Saint Thomas Christians and others in India...
Having traveled all over, I believe that Kochi could be the city in India where Christmas is celebrated with most fervor. And understandably so. There are only around 2 % Christians among population of India while half of them is in the state of Kerala where Kochi,commercial hub of the state is located.Kochi is also the place where one can find maximum number of churches in India while Kerala remains the ideal state where people from all factions of religions-Hindus, Muslims, Christians- mix and interact freely as a society to this day.  Few of Eastern states in India comes next to Kerala in number of churches.Goa comes next to that only, a popular myth among Indians and others who think otherwise.

In India, Christianity has a legacy of over 2000 years. One faction of Indian Christianity-Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala started by none other than Saint Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ- is one of the oldest in the world- while most of the other factions in India are converted by Portuguese, other Europeans and others in the 15th century or much later! Thanks to Indian mentality and culture then and now, not only that Christians are never persecuted but the community thrived well over the years. In many countries in the world I am aware first hand, how a minority community is treated by the majority community of population.


29 comments:


  1. 100,000!
    It is heartening to see that my blog- ‘Musings from Doha’ at www.jaisonchacko.com has crossed 100,000 hits (page views) from the readers. From bottom of my heart I express my undiluted gratitude for all those readers who have supported me to achieve this standing.

    It is just over 5 years that I started writing articles- something I thought I would never. Sudden demise of my elder brother, who was also an intimate friend of mine, made a vacuum in my life for quite some time. I wanted to unleash my feelings inbuilt in me towards him…also make our exemplary brotherhood known to others. That’s how I wrote an eulogistic tribute- my first article titled ‘Adieus Chatten’- which was published creating a blog. Last two days prior to death he went to a coma state. I myself imagined of sending an email to him informing him what had happened to him and around him during those two days until his body was buried. That was the theme of my article.

    Thereafter I decided to continue writing mainly to unwind myself from the hectic and long official hours I was spending those days. But soon I found myself enjoying writing and indulging in thoughts and scribbling notes related to that! Slowly but steadily readership increased, another reason which encouraged me to keep on writing.

    65 articles are published to this date. Statistics of readership also is surprising. Those from India (13.8%) come only as second. First are from USA (25%).Interestingly third comes from Ukraine(13%) before Qatar(9.3%).Readers are also from France(4.5%),Russia(3.3%),China(2.3%),UK(2%),UAE(1.4%) and few other countries as well. I have to say a big ‘thank you‘to all. I understand there is a large international blog reading community. Thank you to all once again.
    Today is first of a month, the date on which I publish the articles regularly. Please read the latest-THEY CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS DAY TWICE AT BETHEHEM!

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  2. Thirumangal Mathai Philip Thanks for sharing informative studies about Church history and different dates of Christmas celebrations

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    Raji Samuel







    Raji Samuel Congratulations. Great Job. Your articles are very informative. May God bless you.

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    Shirly George







    Shirly George Grt work,jaisonchetta.....continue ....for the new generation can learn a lot from your writings

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    Jojo George Abraham







    Jojo George Abraham Congrats, Jaison chetta. It was sheer pleasure going through your blog now and then and enriching myself. Hope you will continue your good work and keep us enlightened. Regards, Jojo

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    Thomas Thomas Mundappally







    Thomas Thomas Mundappally :Congrats Jaison keep writting

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  3. Attupuram Joseph Keep up the blog. I really enjoyed your anecdotes about Thavo. It was informative and interesting to learn about the lives of people I happened to know ...Thanks for sharing it...



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    Asha Jayakrishnan







    Asha Jayakrishnan: Great Sir.....🖒🖒🖒




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    Intrepid Gxs







    Intrepid Gxs: Fantastic




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    Sreevalsan Manakadan







    Sreevalsan Manakadan: It is a pleasure to go through your writing.

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  4. Prince Manjalil: Excellent Jaison chettan...excellent

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  5. Gracy Chandrabose: Great. Keep writing

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  6. Raj Nath R:
    Great work sir.....keep going

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  7. I was very much surprised to learn that Christmas is celebrated twice - 25th december and again in January.Also that Poe Jules 1 allotted 25th December ,as Christmas according to Julian calendar and that for the the first 3 centuries Christmas was not celebrated .About the Roman harrassing Christians I was aware.

    But the biggest and the pleasantest surprise was that your blog has crossed 100,000 readers and with more readership in Ukarine,USA and countries outside India.

    Great going Jai.Keep up the good work of spraeding knowledge in a commercial world where people are writing more about investment and money making; your Musings are a saving grace.

    Thanks again pal.
    Prakash nayak

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  8. Soumya Sree: Simple and lucid style of writing Jaison chetta!!!keep going....

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  9. Meries George :
    great work , appreciate, continue

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  10. Thomas Abraham







    Thomas Abraham:
    Happy to read the musings and comments. Grand son of M.C.Joseph know much about Church History

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  11. Thirumangal Mathai Philip: Thanks for sharing informative studies about Church history and different dates of Christmas celebrations

    ReplyDelete
  12. Raji Samuel:
    Congratulations. Great Job. Your articles are very informative. May God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Shirly George :Grt work,jaisonchetta.....continue ....for the new generation can learn a lot from your writings

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jojo George Abraham:
    Congrats, Jaison chetta. It was sheer pleasure going through your blog now and then and enriching myself. Hope you will continue your good work and keep us enlightened. Regards, Jojo

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thomas Thomas Mundappally: Congrats Jaison keep writting

    ReplyDelete
  16. Gracy Chandrabose :
    Great. Keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Raj Nath R: Great work sir.....keep going

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  18. Joshi Puthur: Jaisonchettan, your write ups are so interesting, make anyone to read till the end.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Pearly Cherian: Congratulations dear Jaison Chatten.

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  20. Joshi Puthur: Once again, very authentic facts; difficult to believe for some, if not many

    ReplyDelete
  21. Pankaj Mukherjee: Wonderful job Jaison!
    Keep it up.
    Wish you the best.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Mathews Cherian :Great. May God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Chithra Narayanan: Congratulations Jaison uncle! Your posts are very informative, hope that you hit the next mark pretty soon. Godspeed!

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  24. Syed Abdul-Basit :Is that you my friend Jaison ! Wow ! Best of luck,keep it going

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  25. Mathew George:
    Never knew Jaison that you are such a prolific writer. Keep it up. Now that you have more time on hand you can dabble more and just look around ... there are enough topics to blog on. Enjoyed reading your piece on Christmas. Incidentally I remember my grandmother telling about we Syrian Xtians of Kerala celebrating Xmas on 7th Jan...may be some 100 years back.
    All the best.

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  26. Thomas George :
    Knowledge attained shall be shared.. this is what you did and are still doing. Congrats Jaison .

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  27. George Pothen:
    Congratulations Jaison. Keep writing ...............

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