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Christmas

Christmas originates from the word Cristes maesse, or 'Christ's Mass'. The first Christmas is estimated to be around 336 A.D. in Rome. It is celebrated on 25th December all over the world, to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is regarded as one of the most important of all Christian festivals. It is a public holiday in India and most of the other countries.

There is the widely accepted Christian legend of the New Testament relating to the birth of Christ. In the story, God sent angel Gabriel to a girl named Mary, a virgin. Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God, and the child would be named Jesus. He would grow up to become a king, and his kingdom would have no boundaries.

The angel Gabriel also visited Joseph and told him that Mary would give birth to a child and advised him to take good care of her, and not to abandon her. On the night that jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were on their way to Bethlehem to get their names registered as per the rules then. They found refuge in a stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus at midnight and laid him in a manger. Thus Jesus, the Son of God was born.

Christmas celebrations begin with a midnight mass, which is considered to be an essential part of the celebrations, it is followed by merrymaking. Children in brightly colored dresses, accompanied by an orchestra of drums and cymbals, perform group dances using gay-colored sticks.

St. Benedict, alias Santa Claus, is a legendary chubby oldie figure, clad in red and white dress, who rides the reindeer and forms a significant part of the celebrations especially for children. He loves kids and gets chocolates, gifts and other desired goodies for them, which he apparently places in their stockings at night.

People sing carols in the glory of the Lord during Christmas. They go from door to door preaching the message of love and brotherhood.

The Christmas tree is popular all over the world for its grandeur. People decorate their homes with trees and hang mistletoe in every corner. After the church mass, people engage in friendly visits and feast and by exchange of greetings and gifts, they spread the message of peace and goodwill.

There are some popular churches in India specially in Goa, where Christmas is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm. Most of these churches were established during the Portuguese and British regime in India.

Some of the major churches in India include St. Joseph Cathedral and Medak church in Andhra Pradesh; St. Cathedral, The Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa; St. John's Church in Wilderness and the Christ Church in Himachal Pradesh; Santa Cruz Basilica Church and St. Francis Church in Kerala; Holy Christ Church and Mount Mary Church in Maharashtra; Christ the King Church and Velankanni Church in Tamil Nadu; and All Saints Cathedral and Kanpur Memorial Church in Uttar Pradesh.