Word of the Week: Christmas

Written by Science


Sparkling lights, wreaths, markets, jolly tunes, the aromatic smell of mulled wine… With Christmas not far away, the festive spirit is definitely thick in the air.

For some, Christmas simply means the end of the year (or end-of-year sales). For others, it is an important day that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is believed the word ‘Christmas’ originates from Old English Crīstes-mæsse, a shortened form of “Christ’s mass”. But it is also sometimes known as Noël, Xmas or Nativity.

Christmas maybe a religious festival, but it is also celebrated by millions of non-Christians all around the globe. While it is not known why Christmas is celebrated on the 25th December, since the month and date of Jesus’ birth is unknown, it is believed the date was chosen because the Romans marked it as the shortest and darkest day of the year (winter solstice). And that following the birth of Jesus Christ (who is identified with the Sun based on the Old Testament) more light was brought into the world (hence, longer days).

Apart from the classical, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!’, there is another phrase commonly heard during Christmas: ‘Bah humbug!’ But, that’s a very different story.

Last modified: 9th December 2017

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