December 25, 2011

posted 22 Dec 2011, 03:54 by C S Paul
December 25, 2011
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Merry Christmas!

BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST ***

by Lew Wallace

The Wise Men Visit Baby Jesus

BOOK FIRST  CAPTER XIII   (continued)   

The air of the chamber was heavy with the perfume of sandal-wood, and all the appointments within were effeminately rich. Upon the floor, covering the central space, a tufted rug was spread, and upon that a throne was set. The visitors had but time, however, to catch a confused idea of the place--of carved and gilt ottomans and couches; of fans and jars and musical instruments; of golden candlesticks glittering in their own lights; of walls painted in the style of the voluptuous Grecian school, one look at which had made a Pharisee hide his head with holy horror. Herod, sitting upon

the throne to receive them, clad as when at the conference with the doctors and lawyers, claimed all their minds.

At the edge of the rug, to which they advanced uninvited, they prostrated themselves. The king touched a bell. An attendant came in, and placed three stools before the throne.

"Seat yourselves," said the monarch, graciously.

"From the North Gate," he continued, when they were at rest, "I had this afternoon report of the arrival of three strangers, curiously mounted, and appearing as if from far countries. Are you the men?"

The Egyptian took the sign from the Greek and the Hindoo, and answered, with the profoundest salaam, "Were we other than we are, the mighty Herod, whose fame is as incense to the whole world, would not have sent for us. We may not doubt that we are the strangers."

Herod acknowledged the speech with a wave of the hand.

"Who are you? Whence do you come?" he asked, adding significantly, "Let each speak for himself."

In turn they gave him account, referring simply to the cities and lands of their birth, and the routes by which they came to Jerusalem. Somewhat disappointed, Herod plied them more directly.

"What was the question you put to the officer at the gate?"

"We asked him, Where is he that is born King of the Jews."

"I see now why the people were so curious. You excite me no less. Is there another King of the Jews?"

The Egyptian did not blanch.

"There is one newly born."

An expression of pain knit the dark face of the monarch, as if his mind were swept by a harrowing recollection.

"Not to me, not to me!" he exclaimed.

Possibly the accusing images of his murdered children flitted before him; recovering from the emotion, whatever it was, he asked, steadily, "Where is the new king?"

"That, O king, is what we would ask."

"You bring me a wonder--a riddle surpassing any of Solomon's," the inquisitor said next. "As you see, I am in the time of life when curiosity is as ungovernable as it was in childhood, when to trifle with it is cruelty. Tell me further, and I will honor you as kings honor each other. Give me all you know about the newly born, and I will join you in the search for him; and when we have found him, I will do what you wish; I will bring him to Jerusalem, and train him in kingcraft; I will use my grace with Caesar for his promotion and glory. Jealousy shall not come between us, so I swear. But tell me first how, so widely separated by seas and deserts, you all came to hear of him."

"I will tell you truly, O king."

"Speak on," said Herod.

Balthasar raised himself erect, and said, solemnly, "There is an Almighty God."

Herod was visibly startled.

"He bade us come hither, promising that we should find the Redeemer of the World; that we should see and worship him, and bear witness that he was come; and, as a sign, we were each given to see a star. His Spirit stayed with us. O king, his Spirit is with us now!"

An overpowering feeling seized the three. The Greek with difficulty restrained an outcry. Herod's gaze darted quickly from one to the other; he was more suspicious and dissatisfied than before.

"You are mocking me," he said. "If not, tell me more. What is to follow the coming of the new king?"

"The salvation of men."

"From what?"

"Their wickedness."

"How?"

"By the divine agencies--Faith, Love, and Good Works."

"Then"--Herod paused, and from his look no man could have said with what feeling he continued--"you are the heralds of the Christ. Is that all?"

Balthasar bowed low.

"We are your servants, O king."

The monarch touched a bell, and the attendant appeared.

"Bring the gifts," the master said.

The attendant went out, but in a little while returned, and, kneeling before the guests, gave to each one an outer robe or mantle of scarlet and blue, and a girdle of gold. They acknowledged the honors with Eastern prostrations.

"A word further," said Herod, when the ceremony was ended. "To the officer of the gate, and but now to me, you spoke of seeing a star in the east."

"Yes," said Balthasar, "his star, the star of the newly born."

"What time did it appear?"

"When we were bidden come hither."

Herod arose, signifying the audience was over. Stepping from the throne towards them, he said, with all graciousness,

"If, as I believe, O illustrious men, you are indeed the heralds of the Christ just born, know that I have this night consulted those wisest in things Jewish, and they say with one voice he should be born in Bethlehem of Judea. I say to you, go thither; go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him bring me word again, that I may come and worship him. To your going there shall be no let or hindrance. Peace be with you!" And, folding his robe about him, he left the chamber.

Directly the guide came, and led them back to the street, and thence to the khan, at the portal of which the Greek said, impulsively, "Let us to Bethlehem, O brethren, as the king has advised."

"Yes," cried the Hindoo. "The Spirit burns within me."

"Be it so," said Balthasar, with equal warmth. "The camels are ready."

They gave gifts to the steward, mounted into their saddles, received directions to the Joppa Gate, and departed. At their approach the great valves were unbarred, and they passed out into the open country, taking the road so lately travelled by Joseph and Mary. As they came up out of Hinnom, on the plain of Rephaim, a light appeared, at first wide-spread and faint.

Their pulses fluttered fast. The light intensified rapidly; they closed their eyes against its burning brilliance: when they dared look again, lo! the star, perfect as any in the heavens, but low down and moving slowly before them. And they folded their hands, and shouted, and rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

"God is with us! God is with us!" they repeated, in frequent cheer, all the way, until the star, rising out of the valley beyond Mar Elias, stood still over a house up on the slope of the hill near the town.

CHAPTER XIV

It was now the beginning of the third watch, and at Bethlehem the morning was breaking over the mountains in the east, but so feebly that it was yet night in the valley. The watchman on the roof of the old khan, shivering in the chilly air, was listening for the first distinguishable sounds with which life, awakening, greets the dawn, when a light came moving up the hill towards the house. He thought it a torch in some one's hand; next moment he thought it a meteor; the brilliance grew, however, until it became a star. Sore afraid, he cried out, and brought everybody within the walls to the roof. The phenomenon, in eccentric motion, continued to approach; the rocks, trees, and roadway under it shoneas in a glare of lightning; directly its brightness became blinding.

The more timid of the beholders fell upon their knees, and prayed, with their faces hidden; the boldest, covering their eyes, crouched, and now and then snatched glances fearfully. Afterwhile the khan andeverything thereabout lay under the intolerable radiance. Such as dared look beheld the star standing still directly over the house in front of the cave where the Child had been born.

In the height of this scene, the wise men came up, and at the gate dismounted from their camels, and shouted for admission. When the steward so far mastered his terror as to give them heed, he drew the bars and opened to them. The camels looked spectral in the unnatural light, and, besides their outlandishness, there were in the faces and manner of the three visitors an eagerness and exaltation which still further excited the keeper's fears and fancy; he fell back, and for a time could not answer the question they put to him.

"Is not this Bethlehem of Judea?"

But others came, and by their presence gave him assurance.

"No, this is but the khan; the town lies farther on."

"Is there not here a child newly born?"

The bystanders turned to each other marvelling, though some of them answered, "Yes, yes."

"Show us to him!" said the Greek, impatiently.

"Show us to him!" cried Balthasar, breaking through his gravity; "for we have seen his star, even that which ye behold over the house, and are come to worship him."

The Hindoo clasped his hands, exclaiming, "God indeed lives! Make haste, make haste! The Savior is found. Blessed, blessed are we above men!"

The people from the roof came down and followed the strangers as they were taken through the court and out into the enclosure; at sight of the star yet above the cave, though less candescent than before, some turned back afraid; the greater part went on.

As the strangers neared the house, the orb arose; when they were at the door, it was high up overhead vanishing; when they entered, it went out lost to sight. And to the witnesses of what then took place came a conviction that there was a divine relation between the star and the strangers, which extended also to at least some of the occupants of the cave. When the door was opened, they crowded in.

The apartment was lighted by a lantern enough to enable the strangers to find the mother, and the child awake in her lap.

"Is the child thine?" asked Balthasar of Mary.

And she who had kept all the things in the least affecting the little one, and pondered them in her heart, held it up in the light, saying,

"He is my son!"

And they fell down and worshipped him.

They saw the child was as other children: about its head was neither nimbus nor material crown; its lips opened not in speech; if it heard their expressions of joy, their invocations, their prayers, it made no sign whatever, but, baby-like, looked longer at the flame in the lantern than at them.

In a little while they arose, and, returning to the camels, brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and laid them before the child, abating nothing of their worshipful speeches; of which no part is given, for the thoughtful know that the pure worship of the pure heart was then what it is now, and has alwaysbeen, an inspired song.

And this was the Savior they had come so far to find!

Yet they worshipped without a doubt.

Why?

Their faith rested upon the signs sent them by him whom we have since come to know as the Father; and they were of the kind to whom his promises were so all-sufficient that they asked nothing about his ways. Few there were who had seen the signs and heard the promises--the Mother and Joseph, the shepherds, and the Three—yet they all believed alike; that is to say, in this period of the plan of salvation, God was all and the Child nothing. But look forward, O reader! A time will come when the signs will all proceed from the Son. Happy they who then believe in him! 

Let us wait that period.

(to be continued)

Christmas Quotes

Christmas is the season when you buy this year's gifts with next year's money.  ~Author Unknown

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~Burton Hillis

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!  ~Author Unknown

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.  ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.  ~Katharine Whitehorn

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.  ~Janice Maeditere

What is Christmas?  It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.  It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.  ~Agnes M. Pahro

Christmas is for children.  But it is for grown-ups too.  Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.  ~Lenora Mattingly Weber

No matter how carefully you stored the lights last year, they will be snarled again this Christmas.  ~Robert Kirby

Except the Christ be born again tonight

In dreams of all men, saints and sons of shame,

The world will never see his kingdom bright. ~Vachel Lindsay

Keep your Christmas-heart open all the year round.  ~Jessica Archmint

 

Wouldn't life be worth the living

Wouldn't dreams be coming true

If we kept the Christmas spirit

All the whole year through?

~Author Unknown


Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice. Dave Barry

I don't think Christmas is necessarily about things. It's about being good to one another, it's about the Christian ethic, it's about kindness. Carrie Fisher


CHRISTMAS STORIES

How the Fir Tree Became the Christmas Tree

This is the story of how the fir tree became the Christmas tree.

At the time when the Christ Child was born all the people, the animals, and the trees, and plants were very happy. The Child was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. People came daily to see the little One, and they always brought gifts with them.

There were three trees standing near the crypt which saw the people, and they wished that they, too, might give presents to the Christ Child.

The Palm said: "I will choose my most beautiful leaf, and place it as a fan over the Child."

"And I," said the Olive, "will sprinkle sweet-smelling oil upon His head."

"What can I give to the Child?" asked the Fir, who stood near.

"You!" cried the others. "You have nothing to offer Him. Your needles would prick Him, and your tears are sticky."

So the poor little Fir tree was very unhappy, and it said: "Yes, you are right. I have nothing to offer the Christ Child."

Now, quite near the trees stood the Christmas Angel, who had heard all that the trees had said. The Angel was sorry for the Fir tree who was so lowly and without envy of the other trees. So, when it was dark, and the stars came out, he begged a few of the little stars to come down and rest upon the branches of the Fir tree. They did as the Christmas Angel asked, and the Fir tree shone suddenly with a beautiful light.

And, at that very moment, the Christ Child opened His eyes—for He had been asleep—and as the lovely light fell upon Him He smiled.

Every year people keep the dear Christmas Child's birthday by giving gifts to each other, and every year, in remembrance of His first birthday, the Christmas Angel places in every house a fir tree, also. Covered with starry candles it shines for the children as the stars shone for the Christ Child. The Fir tree was rewarded for its meekness, for to no other tree is it given to shine upon so many happy faces.

 

Christmas Love  

Candy Chand

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations -- extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment... songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down... totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W." The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W."

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"CHRISTWAS LOVE" And, I believe, He still is.

Provided by Free Christian Content.org

 

The True Meaning of Christmas

2000 years ago, a child was born to a virgin mother, in the town of Bethlehem. The baby was born in the stable because there was no room for them to stay in the inn. The baby's place of birth was marked by a star, which shone brightly and led wise men from far-off lands to the stable, bearing riches and gifts for the new messiah. This child was Jesus Christ our Lord, the son of God, our savior. We celebrate his birth every December 25, commemorating the gifts of the wise men by exchanging gifts with the ones we love.

This Christmas, try to remember what is important about this holiday... not getting gifts, but being together, with our family and friends, and giving thanks to God for sending his son down to save us all!

Provided by Free Christian Content.org

 

George

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no lights. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. There were no children in his life. His wife had gone.

He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, George, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the space heater and warm up.

"Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy. I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly," George turned and opened a wide mouth thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you're done there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me be right back," George said.

There, in the driveway, was an old 53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken."

George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold; the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said, as he turned away.

"But, mister. Please help...." The door of the office closed behind George as he went in. George went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building and opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.

"Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good." George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. George turned and walked back inside the office.

"Glad I gave 'em the truck. Their tires were shot, too. That 'ol truck has brand new..." George thought he was talking to the stranger. But, the man had gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty with a used coffee cup beside it.

"Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought. George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled in into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.

"Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So, he put a new one on. "Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and, beside a police car, an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Help me." George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention.

"Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.

"Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease. "Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there. I'm going to get you an ambulance." The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car."

He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two-way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.

George sat down beside him. "I would never leave in injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse that what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think, with time, you're gonna be right as rain." George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer. "Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts."

The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it, now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer. "Son, why are you doing this?" asked George. "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now, give me the cash!" The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop. "We got one too many in here now." He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need the money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now, put that pee shooter away." George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time.

The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job. My rent is due. My car got repossessed last week...."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes. But we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair, across from the cop. "Sometimes, we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Being stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now, sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer." "Shut up and drink your coffee," the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn.

"Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer. "Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man. Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. "That guy work here?," the wounded cop continued. "Yes," George said. "Just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck said, "Merry Christmas boy...and you, too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems." George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go. Something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy someday." The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever say. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need." George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car, and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. "And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that, too," George said. "Now, git home to your family."

The young man turned, with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree, and all, seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was getting a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder, "But, you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And, when your days are done, you will be with Martha again." The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go, now. I have to go home, where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room. "You see, George...it's my birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord."

Provided by Free Christian Content.org

 

Why Christmas? - For computer nerds

In The Beginning, God created a perfect Operating System. In the garden a compatible linked system downloaded corrupted files and there was a Universal System Failure Hard Crash.

God knew He had to re-install the original Operating System and so then, God inserted into the world His backup - Jesus Christ.

The installation was successful and we are now in the process of a universal re-booting to re-initialize the system and regain the original configuration.

This is why we celebrate Christmas.

 

Just for laughs

A Sunday School teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem.

A small child replied: "They couldn't get a baby-sitter."

 

Did You Know ?

Christmas Facts And Trivia From Around The World

·     Christmas traditions around the world usually include a gift giver, but this entity is different from country to country:

·       In the United States and Canada, his name is Santa Claus.

·       In China, he is called Shengdan Laoren.

·       In England, his name is Father Christmas.

·    In Costa Rica, Columbia, and Mexico it’s El Niño Jesús (Baby Jesus) who leaves the gifts on Christmas Eve night while everyone is sleeping.

·     In Brazil and Peru, he’s Papá Noel

·    In Puerto Rico, Spain, Mexico, and other Spanish Speaking countries Los Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Men), are the ones who leave gifts on January 6th. In these countries, children usually get gifts both on Christmas, and on January 6th.

·       In Morocco he is known as Black Peter

·       In France, he’s Père Noël (Father Christmas)

·        In Germany, she’s Christkind. A beautiful angelic like girl with a shining crown of candles

·        In Holland, it’s Saint Nicholas

·        In Italy, she’s La Befana. A kind old witch

·     Russia: In some parts it’s Babouschka, a kind grandmother figure. In other parts of Russia, it’s Grandfather Frost

·     Christmas caroling began as an old English custom called Wassailing where people toasted each other to a long and healthy life.

·    The sharply pointed leaves of holly symbolized the thorns in Christ’s crown, and the red berries drops of his blood.

·      The common abbreviation for Christmas to Xmas derives from the Greek alphabet. X is the letter Chi, which is the first letter of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet.

·   The poinsettia is the most common Christmas flower in the United States, Mexico, and Central America.

·       There are 364 gifts in the Twelve Days Of Christmas. One gift for every day of the year.

·     The Twelve Days Of Christmas represents the length of time it took The tree Wise men from the East to reach the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Their arrival on the twelfth day is celebrated as the Feast of Epiphany in many countries.

·      The tradition of Christmas lights dates back to when Christians were persecuted for saying Mass. A simple candle in he window meant that Mass would e celebrated there that night.

·       Mistletoe, a traditional Christmas symbol, was once revered by the Britons. It was so sacred, it had to be cut with a golden sickle.

·    Santa’s Reindeers are Rudulph, the leader, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen Comet, Cupid Donner, and Blitzen.

·       Santa has two addresses: Edinburg, and The North Pole. Letters addressed to Toyland or any other address go to Edinburg; however, letters addressed to the North Pole are sent there because there’s really such a place.

·      Over 1.76 billion candy canes are made during the Christmas season.

·      More than three billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States

·     Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday. This tradition began in 1836.

·     Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday in 1907.In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by one of the Wise Men’s camels. The gift given camel is said to have been the smallest one in the Wise Men’s caravan.

·       In Norway on Christmas Eve, after the families have had their holiday dinner, and opened all the presents, they proceed to hide all the brooms in the house. In ancient times, the Norwegians believed that witches and mischievous spirits came out on Christmas Eve, and would steal their brooms for riding.

·    In the Netherlands, Christmas centers on the arrival of Saint Nicholas, who is believed to come on horseback bearing gifts. Before going to bed, Children leave out their shoes hoping to find them filled with sweets when they wake up in the morning.

·      In Italy, La Befana is a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the Chimney leaving gifts for the children. The legend says that one day, while La Befana was sweeping her floor, the Three Wise Men stopped by to ask her to come with them to see the baby Jesus. she said she was too busy at the moment, and could not go with them. Later she changed her mind, but it was too late. From then on, every year she goes out on Christmas Eve searching for the Holy Child leaving gifts in each household for the Holy baby Jesus.

·     In The Ukraine, it is customary to include an artificial spider and web as part of the Christmas tree decoration. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck.

·      The tradition of the Salvation Army Christmas collection kettle started in 1891 when in an effort to raise money for a charity Christmas dinner, they put a large crab pot on a San Francisco street for passers-by to put money in it.

·      In the religious tradition, Christmas season begins at sundown on December 24th., and ends on January 5th with the feast of Epiphany. This is why, the season is also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

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