Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus ("Nativity"): it falls on December 25 for all Christian Churches: but of the Gregorian calendar for the Roman-Western ones and the Julian calendar for the Roman-Eastern ones, that is, the 7th January (with current delay of 13 days). Today, however, also the Greek Orthodox Churches, with the exception of the Slavic Orthodox ones and the Eastern Churches (Syriac or Coptic), have adapted to the Gregorian calendar, while maintaining the Julian calendar for their traditional liturgy.
According to the liturgical calendar, it is a solemnity of greater importance than the Ascension and Pentecost but less than Easter, the most important Christian holiday. However, it is the most popularly felt feast among Christians; even if in more recent times it has taken on an increasingly secular meaning in Western culture, with the exchange of gifts, linked to the family and to figures of Christian or pagan religious folklore such as Santa Claus.
The tradition of the nativity scene and the Christmas tree, both of medieval origin, are closely linked to the festivities; the second more linked to the countries of Northern Europe.
The Italian term "Natale" derives from the Christian Latin Natāle (m) for ellipses of diem natālem Christi ("day of birth of Christ"), in turn from the Latin natālis, derived from nātus ("born"), perfect participle of the verb nāsci ("to be born").
Origin of the holiday
The first trace of Christmas dates back to the Commentary on Daniel of Saint Hippolytus of Rome, dated to 203-204, many years before the testimony of similar festivities of the Invicting Sun.
Other uncertain references to the Christmas festivities date back to the 4th century. The first certain mention of the Nativity of Christ with the date of December 25 dates back to 336, and is found in the Chronographus, written around the middle of the fourth century by the Roman scholar Furio Dionisio Filocalo. been explained with various hypotheses. It has been argued that its date was set for December 25 to make the feast of the Natalis Solis Invicti coincide with the celebration of the birth of Christ, indicated in the Book of Malachi as the new "sun of Justice" (cf. Malachi III, 20), however, both Tertullian and later Pope Leo I attest to the annoyance and reproach of the leaders of the Church towards Christians who, by perpetuating pagan customs, manifested a veneration towards the Sun.
In particular, Pope Leo I states: On the other hand, the theory of the assimilation of the feast of Sol Invictus appears for the first time only after almost 1000 years, and is found in the gloss that an anonymous commentator makes of a writing by the Syrian bishop Jacob Bar -Salibi.
Furthermore, the numerous attestations, prior to 274, of the belief of a large part of the Christian community that Jesus Christ was born on December 25 must be considered.
The date in question is in fact attested by
Hippolytus of Rome in the Commentary on Daniel, 4.23.3.
Evodius (second bishop of the Church of Antioch), in an epistle reported in part by Nicephorus Callistus in his Ecclesiastical History, II, 3
Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, who died in 251, according to the testimony of Victorinus (late 3rd century), bishop of Poetovii (today Ptuj) reported by Jerome
John Chrysostom, who in the homily on the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ (Εἰς τὸ γενέθλιον τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡµῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ) writes that the date of December 25 was well known from the beginning in the West;
Theophilus, third bishop of Cesarea marittima, as reported in Historia Ecclesiae Christi (or Centurie of Magdeburg), cent. II. Postal Code. For these reasons it has been written that it was Aureliano who decided to celebrate Sol Invictus on December 25th - that is, on a date that up to that moment had not had any relevance in the pagan festive calendar - in a last t