Most Americans know Dec. 25 as Christmas Day, but not everyone knows the origin of the celebration and the traditions that accompany it.
The Bible doesn't give a specific date for the birth of Christ, but in the Bible book of Luke Chapter 2 verse 8 mentions the shepherds near Bethlehem were living outside at night with their flocks.
Bible scholars suggest shepherds probably weren't living outside in December, the coldest part of the year in that part of the world.
Pope Julius I declared Dec. 25 Christ's birthday in the year 350.
"In the Christian community the birth of Christ is celebrated near the winter solstice," Father Bob Cilinski, pastor of All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, said.
"During the coldest, darkest days, we celebrate a new light into the world."
Bible writers, such as the prophet Isaiah foretold that a new light would come into the world and we find the account of Jesus birth in the Bible books of Matthew and Luke, Cilinski said.
The word "Christmas" is derived from the phrase, "Christ Mass," the tradition of going to Mass to celebrate the birth of Christ, the birth of the Savior, he added.
One of the traditions of Christmas is the Christmas Crib, also known as the Christmas Crèche or, the nativity scene, which was established by St. Francis of Assisi about 800 years ago, Cilinski said.
"St. Francis felt that it was so beautiful that it should be pictured," he said.
As a result, several modern day churches have nativity scenes displayed, some even have live scenes with actors and actresses,the pastor said.
"We never get tired of telling the story. The beautiful thing is that God humbled himself and became one of us," Cilinski said.
He became small and was born of a woman, he said.
"It reminds all of us that our family is holy," Cilinski said.
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