Merry Xmas to whoever is celebrating it today. I remembered when I was studying in England in the mid 1980s that Xmas was the time we had to stock up for food. The area I was staying in (Stoke City, Staffordshire) virtually shut down for that Xmas week and shops did not open until after the new year. It was cold and freezing and I remembered being bored to death and spent my time watching all the Xmas shows on the then only four British TV channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4). I did celebrate Xmas once with a British family who invited me to their Xmas dinner. It was certainly enjoyable.

I remembered when I was in England I was surprised to find out that Christmas was once forbidden by an Act of Parliament in 1644; the day was to be a fast and a market day; shops were compelled to be open; plum puddings and mince pies condemned as heathen. The conservatives resisted; at Canterbury blood was shed; but after the Restoration, dissenters continued to call Yuletide "Fooltide". By the time I was in England, Xmas traditions had taken over and shops were closed during Xmas. But by 1990s, some of the bigger stores such as Woolworths began the practise of not closing on Christmas Day. And finally in 2004, the Parliament passed a law called The Christmas Day Trading Act which actually now prevents large shops (over 280 square meters) from opening on Chrismas Day.

I wanted to write an article about the origin of Xmas but after reading all there is to be read about it, I thought it was a bit too controversial for me to join in the controversies. The origin of Xmas has been argued and apparently nearly all aspects of Christmas observance have their roots in Roman custom and religion. According to the many writers out there there is no mistaking the origin of the modern Christmas celebration. And it was not until the year 325 that church officials at the First Council of Nicaea formalized Christmas by making Dec. 25 the Feast of the Nativity. Because Christmas was not directly related to a lunar holiday, and because it had never been celebrated before — the date of Christ's birth is not mentioned in the Bible — the council was able to establish an unambiguous date for the celebration.

Anyway, Merry Xmas to readers celebrating it.


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