Christmas–1. Introduction

Posted: 2013 年 12 月 12 日 in Christmas
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聖誕節懶人包介紹:

I. 全文共11篇,主題如下:1. Introduction  2. Xmas arts, rituals, & customs  3. Xmas songs  4. Virgin Mary  5. The Journey  6. The Birth  7. The Shepherds  8. The Magi  9. The Gifts  10. Flight to Egypt  11. The Return

II. 教學時間有限者,建議可讓學生閱讀第一篇與第二篇學習聖誕節由來/習俗/慶祝活動/相關短片。

III. 教學活動可利用第三篇進行聖誕歌曲教學與賞析。

IV. 教學時間充裕或學生程度優異者,第四篇到第十一篇文章內容為連貫性的耶穌誕生故事,每篇段落皆有編號,方便老師們進行分組翻譯/故事接龍等教學活動。此外,每篇篇末皆附有聖誕相關電影或短片,可進行課後聽力練習與文化瞭解。

V. 此懶人包適用學生程度約英檢中級,若老師們願意多花時間搭學生的鷹架,英檢初級也可適用。

VI. 此懶人包年年適用,若本部落格讀者有聖誕相關題材可豐富此包內容,請不吝賜教,謝謝!

Introduction

Christians the world over celebrate December 25 as Christmas, the anniversary of the birth of Christ. It is a joyous holiday, marked by family gatherings, colorful decorations, traditional songs, and the exchange of gifts. Many people also take part in special religious services.

The name “Christmas” comes from the Old English Christes Maesse, or “Christ’s Mass.” The story of Christmas is told in the Bible. The Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke tell how Jesus was born in Bethlehem, how angels announced his birth to shepherds outside the town, and how a bright star led the three Wise Men to him. But the Gospels do not tell the date of Christ’s birth. It is thought that December 25 was chosen because it was around the time of various pagan festivals, such as the Roman Saturnalia. These festivals marked the winter solstice, the time of year when days begin to grow longer in the Northern Hemisphere. Many Christmas customs are thought to have begun with practices associated with these pagan festivals.

The early Christian churches were divided over when to celebrate Christmas. The Western church, based in Rome, chose December 25, while the Eastern church chose January 6. Eventually the holidays merged, and Christmas was celebrated in a twelve-day festival that included both days. Today only the Armenian church observes Christmas on January 6. In other churches, this day is known as Epiphany (主顯節) and is said to mark either the visit of the Wise men or (in Eastern churches) Christ’s baptism. But to many people, the Christmas season extends for an even longer time—from the end of November through New Year’s Day.

Christmas customs

Each country that celebrates Christmas has developed its own particular customs associated with the observance of the holiday. But some customs are found in most countries where Christmas is observed.

Gift giving. Gift giving was part of many pagan midwinter festivals and became part of Christmas as well. In some countries, gifts are exchanged on New Year’s Day or on Epiphany rather than Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Children’s gifts are often said to be brought by a magical and mysterious figure. In the United States, this figure is Santa Claus—a jolly, fat elf in a fur-trimmed red suit. The original Santa Claus is thought to have been St. Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop in Asia Minor (小亞細亞) who was famous for his generosity. He became the patron saint of children. The children of Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands still know him as Saint Nicholas. He is called Pere Noel in France, and Father Christmas in Britain.

Decorations. Christmas decorations are another ancient custom. In pagan times, northern Europeans brought evergreen boughs indoors in winter to serve as a reminder that life would return with spring. Some evergreen plants, such as mistletoe, were thought to have magical properties. It was said that if two enemies met under a branch of mistletoe, they would drop weapons and embrace. This old belief may have been the origin of the modern custom of kissing under the mistletoe.

Christians adopted these decorations and gave them new meaning. Holly, for example, became associated with the crown of thorns Jesus to his crucifixion. The prickly leaves stood for the thorns, while the red berries stood for drops of blood. Wreaths, which symbolized the continuance of life through winter, came to stand for the eternal life promised by Christ. Fires, candles, and other lights, important to pagan festivals as reminders of the sun, came to stand for Jesus as the light of the world.

The Christmas tree also originated in northern Europe. In the Middle Ages, a tree called the Paradise Tree—an evergreen hung with apples—was a prop in a play about Adam and Eve. People began to set up similar trees in their homes on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve. As the trees became more associated with Christmas, people added candles and, eventually, cookies and other decorations.

The Christmas tree custom was introduced in the United States by German settlers in the 1700’s. But it did not become widely popular until the mid-1800’s, when a German prince, Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, married Queen Victoria of England and had a decorated Christmas tree set up in Windsor Castle. Today a Christmas tree decorated with glittering ornaments, candy canes, and electric lights is the focus of many family Christmas celebrations. Huge outdoor trees are also set up in many communities. Two of the largest in the United States are put up each year in Rockefeller Plaza, in New York City, and on the White House lawn in Washington, D.C.

New decorations have been added to traditional ones. The poinsettia, a bright tropical plant, was discovered by Joel R. Poinsett, a U.S. minister to Mexico in the 1800’s. it became a popular Christmas decoration because its leaves showed the traditional Christmas colors—green, standing for the continuation of life, and red, standing for the blood shed by Christ.

Christmas cards.The first Christmas greeting card was created in 1843 by John C. Hosley, a British artist. His card was designed like a post card, lithographed in black and white and colored by hand. It showed a family having Christmas dinner. Another British artist, William Egley, designed a card at about the same time. Both these early cards bore the now-familiar message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

By the 1860’s, Christmas cards were popular throughout Britain. Louis Prang, a German emigrant printer, began to design and sell colored Christmas cards in the United States in 1874. In less than ten years, his shop was turning out 5,000,000 cards a year. Today greeting cards have become a major industry, and billions of cards are sent all over the world each year.

Family gatherings. In medieval Europe, Christmas was a wild celebration of feasting, dancing, and merrymaking that lasted for weeks. Today it is a time for families and friends to get together, often for a special meal. Foods of the season include turkey, gooese, duck, fish, roast beef, and an abundance of other good things to eat and drink. In some European countries, the custom of serving a roast suckling pig with an apple in its mouth is still observed.

Of all Christmas desserts, perhaps the most popular in Britain and the United States are mince pie and plum pudding. Superstition says that eating mince pie on Christmas brings good luck. In many lands, specially baked cakes and cookies are traditional. Preparation of these treats is begun weeks ahead of Christmas dinner.

What the Americans do at Christmas

Christmas: origin, history and traditions (EASY)

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  1. patty0821 說道:

    How fabulous! This series of Christmas articles are great holiday reading materials. Students can also be grouped to report on different parts of the Christmas story. Thank you for sharing. ^^

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