Christmas - December 25th for 12 days

Christmas properly begins on December 25th and lasts for 12 days, ending at Epiphany on January 6th. Long before Christianity, there were various celebrations at this time of year, and some ancient pagan customs have been included in the Christian Christmas as we know it today.

Christmas marks the "official" birthday of Jesus. The date is borrowed from the old Roman festival of the "unconquered sun", as no-one knows for certain when Jesus was born. Christians believe that in Jesus, God came among us in human form. We call this "the Incarnation", which means "in the flesh". The Bible says that Jesus is the very imprint of God, so Jesus is special because he shows us better than anyone else what God is like. He also understands what it's like to be human, with all its joys and sorrows.

The Christmas story describes how Jesus is born in Bethlehem to a young, unmarried mother and laid in a manger because all the inns were full. It shows how God "gets in beside us" in ordinary life. The story of the shepherds, who were poor peasants, coming to visit the baby Jesus reminds us that everyone matters to God. We are all included in his love, whoever we are, and are all invited to worship him. As for the wise men, or kings as they are sometimes described - well, they come a bit later in the story! Read about them in January....

Happy Christmas!