“Less than half of British children between the ages of seven and 11 are aware that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, according to a BBC poll.” – AFP
The fact is, that it isn’t. At least not in the purest and most truthful sense. The New Testament of the Holy Bible gave no specific date of the birth of Jesus though we did spent quite a fraction of our attention in this lifetime listening to stories of ‘the King’ born in a stable, surrounded by animals and most notably, the arrival of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts for this special child. It was perhaps, Sextus Julius Africanus, a 3rd Century Christian Historian who popularized this day as the birthday of Christ.
Christmas is a festival choked with different cultures of the west and accumulated a host of different customs that was gathered from different religious/social influences. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that we consider it highly commercialized today – it was something much like the essence of globalization. The Pagans of Rome already had something much like Christmas Day, which gave us the part about Santa Claus, his elves and reindeer. The Christians originally celebrated Epiphany (6 January) and somehow, the dates were fused together by Western Churches and we thus have 12 days of Christmas – referring to the days (26 December – 6 January) after the Christmas feast. The ‘integration’ of the idea of Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) pushed the celebration back even earlier, to the Christmas eve – at least for the modern times.
In fact, traditionalist may insist that Christ was born on 6 January and the Irish considers this day ‘Little Christmas’. A pity BBC didn’t know, though the kids probably had no idea as well.
[Added on Boxing Day]
As an afterthought, I realized I didn’t take into account the fact that our calenders did change from the traditional Julian one to the current Gregorian calender. According to this mysterious comment-maker (whom I believe to be spam – due to the fact that the lame comment appeared in another post and not this), the Epiphany is supposed to be the Christmas Day adjusted from the Julian calender to the Gregorian one. And that 25 December is traditionally accepted to be the proper day given that we are using the Gregorian calender. In any case, no one would know when the Christ was born anyway.