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The origin of Christmas

The Greek Orthodox Church like the other Christian churches celebrates Christmas on December 25th.  The Catholic and Orthodox church were united for over one thousand years and the celebration of Christ's birth remains the same date in both churches. To the Greek people Christmas is second only to Easter in terms of importance.  

Greeks place the greatest  importance on the birth of Christ rather than on "Santa Claus - Saint Nicholas".  The probable reason for this is that Christmas gifts are not exchanged on Christmas in Greece and in Cyprus.   Rather Greeks exchange gifts on St. Basil's Day, "New Years Day." 

It was nearly one hundred years after the celebration of Epiphany (January 6 - The manifestation of Christ's power, and his ability to perform miracles) that Christmas began to be celebrated.  It is believed that the nativity was set on December 25th  by a Roman bishop around the third century A.D.  

Saint Basil  and Saint Gregory tried in vain to create a distinct difference between the two dates, calling one Epiphany and the other Theophany-Nativity.  Epiphany was the more significant of the two dates, yet their efforts were unsuccessful in making December 25th less significant than January 6th.

It is believed that Christmas was chosen on this day in attempt to weaken the hold of a Pagan god.  For a very long time Christ's birth was celebrated on many different days, and in fact not even the exact year of his birth is known!  What is known is that on December 25th a Persian god by the name of Mithras, "The sun god"  was celebrated.  

The Pagans were unwilling to give up their holy day which resulted in another one being introduced in its' place, one that would be seen as just as significant!  This allowed for an easier conversion of the Pagans to Christianity, as the Pagans would be able to celebrate another God in the place of their previous god on the same date.

It should be noted that compromises were never made on Orthodox dogma and tradition by celebrating Christmas on December 25th.  The Orthodox church has remained the same for virtually two thousand years. Mithras was a Pagan sun god allowing a virtually perfect transition to the Christian God of light.  There was some resistance within the early Christian church in adopting  December 25th as Christ's birth date, this was due to a possible misrepresentation of a new Christian holiday by some, and a fear of anything Pagan.

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Other Greek Customs and Traditions:

  • Santa Claus The origin of Santa Claus.  Who was he? and his story!
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