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Did You Know? Christmas


To help increase awareness of religious diversity, my department's Wellness and Inclusion Team is doing a "Did you know" series. This series features information on various religious and secular celebrations throughout the year.

December 25, 2017, January 6 and 7, 2019

Did you know?

Some of our colleagues will be celebrating Christmas this holiday season.

  • Christmas is both a Christian and secular celebration. While denominations and families celebrate it differently, Christmas is widely recognized as a celebration of family and traditions.
  • Common Christmas traditions include sharing meals with family and friends, exchanging gifts and giving generously to those in need.

Christmas as a religious celebration

  • Christmas (meaning Christ Mass or "Christ is sent") is the day that Christians around the world come together in their place of worship to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Sent by God the Father, Jesus came to heal, renew and redeem humanity. A nativity scene often adorns churches and homes as a reminder of God's love for mankind.
  • In some Christian faiths, Christmas is preceded by Advent, a four-week season of spiritual preparation and joyful expectation. Children may have Advent calendars in their homes, opening a door each day leading up to Christmas. Churches and homes often display an Advent wreath of four candles, one for each week of Advent and each representing a virtue. While the virtues may vary across faiths, they typically include hope, love, joy and peace. A larger white candle is often placed in the centre of the wreath and lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day to remind Christians that Christ is the light of the world.
  • Most Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, while Armenian Christians celebrate on January 6 and Orthodox Christians on January 7. Some also celebrate the Epiphany (visit of the three wise men) and the Baptism of Jesus on January 6 and 7 respectively.

Christmas as a non-religious celebration

  • Non-religious Christmas celebrations commonly feature Santa Claus, a magical being who lives at the North Pole with his elves and reindeer. Santa travels the world in a flying sleigh on Christmas Eve to give gifts to children.
  • Santa Claus was modelled after the legend of Saint Nicholas, a bishop from Turkey who was very generous to those in need, and Sinterklaass, the Dutch iteration of Saint Nicholas. The character of Santa Claus was first introduced in Clement Clarke Moore's classic poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," more commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas."

To all who celebrate, we wish you Merry Christmas!



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