The true meaning of Christmas is a phrase that began to appear in the mid-19th century when a shift toward a more secular culture resulted in a national backlash. Christians began to see the secularization of the celebration day of the birth of Christ as the shift toward Santa Claus and gift exchanging replaced the celebration of the advent of Christ and giving to the poor and needy without expectation of receiving anything in return. The poem A Visit from St. Nicholas (1822) helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. Harriet Beecher Stowe criticizes the commercialization in her story "Christmas; or, the Good Fairy".An early expression of this sentiment using the phrase of "the true meaning" is found in The American Magazine , vol. 28 (1889):
The phrase is especially associated with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843), in which an old miser named Ebeneezer Scrooge is taught the true meaning of Christmas by three ghostly visitors who review his past and foretell his future.
The topic was taken up by satirists such as Stan Freberg and Tom Lehrer during the 1950s and eventually by the influential TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas , first aired in 1965 and repeated every year since. "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown," says Linus van Pelt, after he recites the Annunciation to the Shepherds from the Bible referring to the birth of Christ. Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957) also illustrates the topic, and was very influential in the form of an animated TV special produced in 1966. The phrase and the associated moral became used as a trope in numerous Christmas films since the 1960s.
The phrase found its way into the 2003 Urbi et Orbi address of Pope John Paul II, "The crib and the tree: precious symbols, which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas!"
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many countries, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season organized around it.
Christmas in Poland is a major annual celebration, as in most countries of the Christian world. The observance of Christmas developed gradually over the centuries, beginning in ancient times; combining old Polish pagan customs with the religious ones introduced after the Christianization of Poland by the Catholic Church. Later influences include the mutual permeating of local traditions and various folk cultures. It is one of the most important religious holidays for Poles, who follow a somewhat strict traditional custom. Christmas trees are decorated and lit in family rooms on the day of Christmas Eve. Other trees are placed in most public areas and outside churches. Christmas in Poland is called "Boże Narodzenie", which translates to 'God's Birth'.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer, such as a fir, spruce, or pine, or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas, originating in Germany associated with Saint Boniface. The custom was developed in medieval Livonia, and in early modern Germany where German Protestant Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic governorates during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, is one of the four constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council in 1965. It was the last and longest published document from the council and is the first constitution published by an ecumenical council to address the entire world. Gaudium et spes clarified and reoriented the role of the church’s mission to people outside of the Catholic faith. It was the first time that the church took explicit responsibility for its role in the larger world. The constitution's creation was necessitated by fear of the church’s irrelevance in the modern era due to its ignorance on problems that plague the modern world. The document represents an inner examination of the church by the council and features a response to problems affecting the modern world.
Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and Western society.
The nativity of Jesus, nativity of Christ, birth of Christ or birth of Jesus is described in the biblical gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judaea, his mother Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention. Many modern scholars consider the birth narratives unhistorical because they are laced with theology and present two different accounts which cannot be harmonised into a single coherent narrative, but also many view the discussion of historicity as secondary, given that gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than chronological timelines.
New feminism is a form of Christian feminism that emphasizes the integral complementarity of women and men, rather than the superiority of men over women or women over men, and advocates for respecting persons from conception to natural death.
The observance of Christmas around the world varies by country. The day of Christmas, and in some cases the day before and the day after, are recognized by many national governments and cultures worldwide, including in areas where Christianity is a minority religion. In some non-Christian areas, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration ; in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday.
Urbi et Orbi denotes a papal address and apostolic blessing given by the pope on certain solemn occasions.
The October 1978 papal conclave was triggered by the death of Pope John Paul I on 28 September 1978, just 33 days after his election on 26 August. The conclave to elect John Paul I's successor began on 14 October and ended two days later on 16 October, after eight ballots. The cardinal electors selected Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła, Archbishop of Kraków, as the new pope. Resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes, he accepted his election and took the pontifical name of John Paul II.
Theology of the Body is the topic of a series of 129 lectures given by Pope John Paul II during his Wednesday audiences in St. Peter's Square and the Paul VI Audience Hall between September 5, 1979, and November 28, 1984. It constitutes an analysis on human sexuality. The complete addresses were later compiled and expanded upon in many of John Paul's encyclicals, letters, and exhortations.
Novo millennio ineunte is an apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II, addressed to the Bishops Clergy and Lay Faithful, "At the Close of the Great Jubilee of 2000".
Wigilia is the traditional Christmas Eve vigil supper in Poland, held on December 24. The term is often applied to the whole of Christmas Eve, extending further to Pasterka - midnight Mass, held in Roman Catholic churches all over Poland and in Polish communities worldwide at or before midnight. The custom is sometimes referred to as "wieczerza" or "wieczerza wigilijna", in Old Polish meaning evening repast, linked to the late church service, Vespers from the Latin.
The Pope John Paul II bibliography contains a list of works by Pope John Paul II, and works about his life and theology. Pope John Paul II reigned as pope of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City for 26 years and six months. Works written and published prior to his election to the papacy are attributed to Karol Wojtyła. Additional resources can be found on the Vatican website.
The ceremonial of Benedict XVI (2005–2013) re-introduced several papal garments which had previously fallen into disuse.
Dies Domini is an apostolic letter promulgated by Pope John Paul II on July 30, 1998. In this doctrine, Pope John Paul encourages the Catholic population to 'rediscover the meaning' behind keeping the Lord's Day holy.
The Lateran Cross is a medal for recognition of merit. It was bestowed by the Cathedral chapter of the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran with authorisation of the Holy See.
The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical reference, but most biblical scholars assume a year of birth between 6 and 4 BC. The historical evidence is too incomplete to allow a definitive dating, but the year is estimated through three different approaches: (A) by analyzing references to known historical events mentioned in the nativity accounts in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, (B) by working backward from the estimation of the start of the ministry of Jesus, and (C) astrological or astronomical alignments. The common Christian traditional dating of the birthdate of Jesus was December 25, a date first asserted officially by Pope Julius I in 350 A.D., although this claim was dubious or otherwise unfounded. The day or season has been estimated by various methods, including the description of shepherds watching over their sheep.
Christmas traditions include a variety of customs, religious practices, rituals, and folklore associated with the celebration of Christmas. Many of these traditions vary by country or region, while others are universal and practiced in a virtually ubiquitous manner across the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020 has significantly impacted liturgical celebrations of the Catholic Church worldwide. The Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) stated that the pandemic has become not "just a medical, social and economic problem, but also a pastoral problem", which led ACN to start encouraging a special program for the actions of priests and religious against the virus spread.