December 25th is one of Christianity’s most important holy days, a commemoration of the birth some 2000 years ago of Jesus Christ, revered by Christians as the Incarnate God, the Savior, the Light of the World. His parents, Mary and Joseph were among the poor, and tradition has it that Jesus was born into the cold of a stable in the darkest depths of winter.
From time immemorial, people living in the Northern hemisphere have celebrated the winter Solstice, as the fading of the light gives way to lengthening days and the promise of nature’s renewal. Ancient peoples around the world welcomed the turn of the year and the pending reappearance of the sun with celebrations and elaborate rituals, some of which still echo in today’s observances, including the emphasis on light. Celebrating the birth of Jesus near the time of the Solstice capitalized on these ancient yearnings and mid-winter observances which still are present in other communities across the world.
Around December 22nd, the Chinese and a number of East Asian peoples celebrate Dōngzhì, a time for families to get together and remember the year just past, as well as to celebrate the arrival of winter and the return of light. The ancient Yalda festival is a celebration of the winter solstice in Iran, while the Japanese observe Toji, a traditional practice centered around starting the new year with good health and good luck.
The celebrations are varied, but everywhere the spirit of cheer and optimism prevails. For Christians, what echoes through the centuries is the announcement by an Angel that first Christmas night, of a Birth and its promise: “Peace on Earth; good will toward men.”
“Each and every year at Christmastime, we recognize that the real spirit of Christmas is not what we have, it’s about who we are, each one of us is a child of God. That is the true source of joy this time of the year. That is what makes every Christmas merry,” said President Donald Trump.
"We pray that our country will be a place where every child knows a home filled with love, a community rich with hope and a nation blessed with faith.”