’Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
’Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.

[Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832), Scottish novelist, poet. Marmion, Introduction to cto. 6, (1808).]

Maybe one of most excited holidays. Everyone likes Christmas and Christmas Eve – some because they shouldn’t work, some – because they get a lot of beautiful presents.

In Lithuania everyone celebrates Christmas together with their families. But it’s not like that in other countries. For example, in Belgium Christmas are celebrated mostly by young people – they go to the coffees, to the towns, discos. It’s like New Year in Lithuania.

Actually, a Christian feast commemorates the birth of Jesus. This feast is celebrated on the 25th of December. The name ‘Christmas’ came from middle English Cristemas, from Old English Crìstes mæsse, Christ’s festival.

In the Christian calendar, it ranks after EASTER, PENTECOST, and EPIPHANY in liturgical importance and was not widespread until the 4th cent. The customs of the caroling, mistletoe, and gifts at Christmas are English. Elsewhere, gifts are given at other times, as at Epiphany in Spain. Christmas cards appeared c.1846. The concept of a jolly Santa Claus was first made popular in 19th-cent. New York City. The Christmas tree was a medieval German tradition. Midnight Mass is a familiar religious observance among Roman Catholics and some Protestants.

A greeting card sent at Christmas to express good will. But all these beautiful greeting cards with nice pictures on them are not so old. They were invented only a few centuries ago.
London museum director Henry Cole sends out the world’s first Christmas cards. He has designed a three-panel card that says, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” (1843).

The first American-made Christmas cards appear at Boston. German-American lithographer Louis Prang, 51, who makes the cards for the English trade, has been publishing $6 reproductions of famous works of art (“chromos”) since 1865 but will now concentrate on introducing Christmas cards in America, developing a market that he will dominate until 1890, when cheaper imports from Germany will put him out of business.

Moravian immigrants at Bethlehem (see 1740) introduce the celebration of Christmas with such German customs as the visit from Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus. In Puritan New England Christmas remains a working day.

A lot of famous writers and journalists wrote about Christmas, composed beautiful songs. There are some ‘very clever’ sentences about this holiday:
From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.
[Katharine Whitehorn (b. 1926), British journalist. ]

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.
[Garrison Keillor (b. 1942), U.S. author. Leaving Home, “Exiles” (1987).]

There are some people who want to throw their arms round you simply because it is Christmas; there are other people who want to strangle you simply because it is Christmas.
[Robert Lynd (1879–1949), Anglo-Irish essayist, journalist. The Book of This and That, “On Christmas” (1915).]

Please to put a nickel,
Please to put a dime.
How petitions trickle
In at Christmas time!
[Phyllis McGinley (1905–78), U.S. poet, author. “Dear Madam: We Know You Will Want to Contribute …” published in Times Three (1960).]

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of heav’n’s eternal King,
Of wedded Maid and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring.
[John Milton (1608–74), English poet. On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity.]

Most popular Christmas songs and hymns:

Hymns “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God!” and “Away in a Manger” by Martin Luther.

Hymn “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” by U.S. composer Richard Storrs Wills, lyrics by Unitarian clergyman-poet Edward H. Sears.

Hymn “We Three Kings of Orient” by English-American clergyman John Henry Hopkins

Hymns “Lead, Kindly Light” (“Lux Benigna”) by English clergyman-composer John Bacchus Dykes, lyrics by John Henry Newman (1833); “Yield Not to Temptation” by U.S. composer Horatio Richmond Palmer; “O Little Town of Bethlehem” by Philadelphia Holy Trinity Episcopal Church organist Lewis H. Redner, lyrics by church rector Philips Brooks.

Hymn Adeste Fidelis by English clergyman John Reading. An English version beginning “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” will be published in 1841 with lyrics by another clergyman.

Hymn “Joy to the World” by G. F. Handel.

Hymn “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”) by Austrian parish priest Joseph Mohr, will be set to music by composer Franz Xavier Gruber.

Popular song “Jingle Bells” (“One-Horse Open Sleigh”) by Boston composer James Pierpont.

Interesting fact: In 1882 the world’s first electrically lighted Christmas tree is installed in December in the New York house of Thomas Edison’s associate Edward H. Johnson.

So, it’s Christmas.

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