Christmas is traditionally a time of festivity, gift-giving and family get-togethers. In the southern hemisphere it is a time for holidaying, taking a break from work and getting refreshed at the beach. It is a time when businesses close, and very few remain open on Christmas Day.
Around the world there are many that make Christmas day one of their few pilgrimages to Church, to remember the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. But for many more, it is the “high day” of their regular attendance, rated along with the Holy Days of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
What is Christmas?
The word Christmas is derived from the combination of two words: Christ and mass. The word Christ is a Greek word, meaning ‘anointed’. We hear the phrase ‘Jesus Christ’ so often that we may think that it was Jesus’ second name. But it is not a name, but a description. The verb ‘anoint’ has the following meanings:(1)
- To apply oil, ointment, or a similar substance to.
- To put oil on during a religious ceremony as a sign of sanctification or consecration.
- To choose by or as if by divine intervention.
The anointing of Jesus was not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit.
Christmas – as defined within the word – is of Roman Catholic derivation, and has little to do with any information derived from the Bible itself.“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Acts 10:36-38
You may well be familiar with the equivalent Hebrew word for anointed – messiah.
The second part of Christmas is mass. In its religious application, the word has two applications.(1)
- A public celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant churches. b. The sacrament of the Eucharist.
- A musical setting of certain parts of the Mass, especially the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.
It is in the sense of the first definition that it comes to form part of the word Christmas. It discloses the fact that the Christmas celebration is founded upon the Roman Catholic practice of Mass, and Protestant churches have continued the same practice without any change.
In summary, Christmas-as defined within the word-is of Roman Catholic derivation, and has little to do with any information derived from the Bible itself.