Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth's birth. Anne's marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate, her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary. Edward's will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary's reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels. In 1558 upon Mary's death, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister to the throne and set out to rule by good counsel, she depended on a group of trusted advisers, led by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley.
One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement was to evolve into the Church of England, it was expected that Elizabeth would produce an heir. She was succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland, she had earlier been responsible for the imprisonment and execution of James's mother, Queen of Scots. In government, Elizabeth was more moderate. One of her mottoes was "video et taceo". In religion, she was tolerant and avoided systematic persecution. After the pope declared her illegitimate in 1570 and released her subjects from obedience to her, several conspiracies threatened her life, all of which were defeated with the help of her ministers' secret service. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, manoeuvring between the major powers of Spain, she only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands and Ireland.
By the mid-1580s, England could no longer avoid war with Spain. England's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history; as she grew older, Elizabeth became celebrated for her virginity. A cult grew around her, celebrated in the portraits and literature of the day. Elizabeth's reign became known as the Elizabethan era; the period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. Some historians depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity. Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor in an era when government was ramshackle and limited, when monarchs in neighbouring countries faced internal problems that jeopardised their thrones.
After the short reigns of her half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity. Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace and was named after her grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard, she was the second child of Henry VIII of England born in wedlock to survive infancy. Her mother was Anne Boleyn. At birth, Elizabeth was the heir presumptive to the throne of England, her older half-sister, had lost her position as a legitimate heir when Henry annulled his marriage to Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Anne, with the intent to sire a male heir and ensure the Tudor succession. She was baptised on 10 September 1533. A canopy was carried at the ceremony over the three-day old child by her uncle Viscount Rochford, Lord Hussey, Lord Thomas Howard, Lord Howard of Effingham. Elizabeth was two years and eight months old when her mother was beheaded on 19 May 1536, four months after Catherine of Aragon's death from natural causes.
Elizabeth was deprived of her place in the royal succession. Eleven days after Anne Boleyn's execution, Henry married Jane Seymour, who died shortly after the birth of their son, Edward, in 1537. From his birth, Edward was undisputed heir apparent to the throne. Elizabeth was placed in his household and carried the chrisom, or baptismal cloth, at his christening. Elizabeth's first governess, Margaret Bryan, wrote that she was "as toward a child and as gentle of conditions as I knew any in my life". Catherine Champernowne, better known by her married name of Catherine "Kat" Ashley, was appointed as Elizabeth's governess in 1537, she remained Elizabeth's friend until her death in 1565. Champernowne taught Elizabeth four languages: French, Flemish and Spanish. By the time William Grindal became her tutor in 1544, Elizabeth could write English and Italian. Under Grindal, a talented and skilful tutor, she progressed in French and Greek. After Grindal died in 1548, Elizabeth received her education under Roger Ascham, a sympathetic teacher who believed that learning should be engaging.
By the time her formal education ended in 1550, Elizabeth was one of the best educated women of her generation. At the end of her life, Elizabeth was believed to speak Welsh, Cornish and Irish in addition to the languages men
An antiphon is a short chant in Christian ritual, sung as a refrain. The texts of antiphons are the Psalms, their form was favored by St Ambrose and they feature prominently in Ambrosian chant, but they are used in Gregorian chant as well. They may be used for the Introit, the Offertory or the Communion, they may be used in the Liturgy of the Hours for Lauds or Vespers. They should not be confused with processional antiphons; when a chant consists of alternating verses and responds, a refrain is needed. The looser term antiphony is used for any call and response style of singing, such as the kirtan or the sea shanty and other work songs, songs and worship in African and African-American culture. Antiphonal music is that performed by two choirs in interaction singing alternate musical phrases. Antiphonal psalmody is the singing or musical playing of psalms by alternating groups of performers; the term “antiphony” can refer to a choir-book containing antiphons. The'mirror' structure of Hebrew psalms renders it probable that the antiphonal method was present in the services of the ancient Israelites.
According to historian Socrates of Constantinople, antiphony was introduced into Christian worship by Ignatius of Antioch, who saw a vision of two choirs of angels. Antiphons have remained an integral part of the worship in the Armenian Rite; the practice did not become part of the Latin Church until more than two centuries later. Ambrose and Gregory the Great, who are known for their contributions to the formulation of Gregorian chant, are credited with'antiphonaries', collections of works suitable for antiphon, which are still used in the Roman Catholic Church today. Polyphonic Marian antiphons emerged in England in the 14th century as settings of texts honouring the Virgin Mary, which were sung separately from the mass and office after Compline. Towards the end of the 15th century, English composers produced expanded settings up to nine parts, with increasing complexity and vocal range; the largest collection of such antiphons is the late-15th-century Eton Choirbook. As a result, antiphony remains common in the Anglican musical tradition: the singers face each other, placed in the quire's Decani and Cantoris.
The Greater Advent or O Antiphons are antiphons used at daily prayer in the evenings of the last days of Advent in various liturgical Christian traditions. Each antiphon is a name of one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. In the Roman Catholic tradition, they are sung or recited at Vespers from December 17 to December 23. In the Church of England they have traditionally been used as antiphons to the Magnificat at Evening Prayer. More they have found a place in primary liturgical documents throughout the Anglican Communion, including the Church of England's Common Worship liturgy. Use of the O Antiphons was preserved in Lutheranism at the German Reformation, they continue to be sung in Lutheran churches; when two or more groups of singers sing in alternation, the style of music can be called polychoral. This term is applied to music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. Polychoral techniques are a definitive characteristic of the music of the Venetian school, exemplified by the works of Giovanni Gabrieli: this music is known as the Venetian polychoral style.
The Venetian polychoral style was an important innovation of the late Renaissance. This style, with its variations as it spread across Europe after 1600, helped to define the beginning of the Baroque era. Polychoral music was not limited to Italy in the Renaissance. There are examples from the 19th and 20th centuries, from composers as diverse as Hector Berlioz, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Karlheinz Stockhausen. Marian antiphon Polyphony Polyphonic form Polyphonic singing Polychoral compositions Latin church music by George Frideric Handel — includes three antiphons. Antiphon "O Sapientia quae ex ore Altissimi..." Antiphon O Adonai II Great Advent Antiphon File:Schola Gregoriana-Antiphona et Magnificat.ogg
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song of the Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with additions and redactions. Although popular legend credits Pope Gregory I with inventing Gregorian chant, scholars believe that it arose from a Carolingian synthesis of Roman chant and Gallican chant. Gregorian chants were organized into four eight, 12 modes. Typical melodic features include a characteristic ambitus, characteristic intervallic patterns relative to a referential mode final and cadences, the use of reciting tones at a particular distance from the final, around which the other notes of the melody revolve, a vocabulary of musical motifs woven together through a process called centonization to create families of related chants; the scale patterns are organized against a background pattern formed of conjunct and disjunct tetrachords, producing a larger pitch system called the gamut.
The chants can be sung by using six-note patterns called hexachords. Gregorian melodies are traditionally written using neumes, an early form of musical notation from which the modern four-line and five-line staff developed. Multi-voice elaborations of Gregorian chant, known as organum, were an early stage in the development of Western polyphony. Gregorian chant was traditionally sung by choirs of men and boys in churches, or by men and women of religious orders in their chapels, it is the music of the Roman Rite, performed in the monastic Office. Although Gregorian chant supplanted or marginalized the other indigenous plainchant traditions of the Christian West to become the official music of the Christian liturgy, Ambrosian chant still continues in use in Milan, there are musicologists exploring both that and the Mozarabic chant of Christian Spain. Although Gregorian chant is no longer obligatory, the Roman Catholic Church still considers it the music most suitable for worship. During the 20th century, Gregorian chant underwent a popular resurgence.
Singing has been part of the Christian liturgy since the earliest days of the Church. Until the mid-1990s, it was accepted that the psalmody of ancient Jewish worship influenced and contributed to early Christian ritual and chant; this view is no longer accepted by scholars, due to analysis that shows that most early Christian hymns did not have Psalms for texts, that the Psalms were not sung in synagogues for centuries after the Destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. However, early Christian rites did incorporate elements of Jewish worship that survived in chant tradition. Canonical hours have their roots in Jewish prayer hours. "Amen" and "alleluia" come from Hebrew, the threefold "sanctus" derives from the threefold "kadosh" of the Kedushah. The New Testament mentions singing hymns during the Last Supper: "When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" Matthew 26.30. Other ancient witnesses such as Pope Clement I, Tertullian, St. Athanasius, Egeria confirm the practice, although in poetic or obscure ways that shed little light on how music sounded during this period.
The 3rd-century Greek "Oxyrhynchus hymn" survived with musical notation, but the connection between this hymn and the plainchant tradition is uncertain. Musical elements that would be used in the Roman Rite began to appear in the 3rd century; the Apostolic Tradition, attributed to the theologian Hippolytus, attests the singing of Hallel psalms with Alleluia as the refrain in early Christian agape feasts. Chants of the Office, sung during the canonical hours, have their roots in the early 4th century, when desert monks following St. Anthony introduced the practice of continuous psalmody, singing the complete cycle of 150 psalms each week. Around 375, antiphonal psalmody became popular in the Christian East. In the fifth century, a singing school, the Schola Cantorum, was founded at Rome to provide training in church musicianship. Scholars are still debating how plainchant developed during the 5th through the 9th centuries, as information from this period is scarce. Around 410, St. Augustine described the responsorial singing of a Gradual psalm at Mass.
At c. 520, Benedict of Nursia established what is called the rule of St. Benedict, in which the protocol of the Divine Office for monastic use was laid down. Around 678, Roman chant was taught at York. Distinctive regional traditions of Western plainchant arose during this period, notably in the British Isles, Spain and Italy; these traditions may have evolved from a hypothetical year-round repertory of 5th-century plainchant after the western Roman Empire collapsed. John the Deacon, biographer of Pope Gregory I, modestly claimed that the saint "compiled a patchwork antiphonary", given his considerable work with liturgical development, he reorganized the Schola Cantorum and established a more uniform standard in church services, gathering chants from among the regional traditions as as he could manage. Of those, he retained what he could, revised where necessary, assigned particular chants to the various services. According to Donald Jay Grout, his goal was to organize the bodies of chants from diverse traditions into a uniform and orderly whole for use by the entire western region of the Church.
His renowned love for music was recorded only 34 years after his death. While legends magnified his real achievements
Pope Pius X
Pope Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was head of the Catholic Church from August 1903 to his death in 1914. Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting liturgical reforms and orthodox theology, he directed the production of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the first comprehensive and systemic work of its kind. Pius X was devoted to the Marian title of Our Lady of Confidence, he advanced the Liturgical Movement as the only Pope to favor the use of the vernacular language in teaching catechesis, he encouraged the frequent reception of holy communion, he lowered the age for First Communion, which became a lasting innovation of his papacy. In addition, he defended the Catholic religion against indifferentism and relativism. Like his predecessors, he promoted Thomism as the principal philosophical method to be taught in Catholic institutions; as Roman Pontiff, he vehemently opposed modernism and various nineteenth-century philosophies, which he viewed as an import of secular errors incompatible with Catholic dogma.
Pius X was known for sense of personal poverty. He gave homily sermons in the pulpit every week, a rare practice at the time. After the 1908 Messina earthquake he filled the Apostolic Palace with refugees, long before the Italian government acted, he rejected any kind of favours for his family, to which his close relatives chose to remain in poverty living near Rome. During his pontificate, many famed Marian images were granted a canonical coronation, namely the Our Lady of Aparecida, Our Lady of the Pillar, Our Lady of the Cape, Our Lady of Chiquinquira of Colombia, Our Lady of the Lake of Mexico, Our Lady of La Naval de Manila, Virgin of Help of Venezuela, Our Lady of Carmel of New York, the Immaculate Conception within the Chapel of the Choir inside Saint Peter's Basilica were granted its prestigious honors. After his death, a strong cult of devotion followed his reputation of piety and holiness, he was beatified in 1951 and was canonized as a Catholic saint on 29 May 1954. The traditionalist Catholic priestly Society of Saint Pius X is named in his honor while a grand statue bearing his name stands within St. Peter's Basilica.
Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born in Riese, Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, Austrian Empire in 1835. He was the second born of ten children of Giovanni Battista Margarita Sanson, he was baptised 3 June 1835. Giuseppe's childhood was one of poverty. Though poor, his parents valued education, Giuseppe walked 3.75 miles to school each day. Giuseppe had three brothers and six sisters: Giuseppe Sarto, Angelo Sarto, Teresa Parolin-Sarto, Rosa Sarto, Antonia Dei Bei-Sarto, Maria Sarto, Lucia Boschin-Sarto, Anna Sarto, Pietro Sarto, he rejected any kind of favours for his family. At a young age, Giuseppe studied Latin with his village priest, went on to study at the gymnasium of Castelfranco Veneto. "In 1850 he received the tonsure from the Bishop of Treviso, was given a scholarship the Diocese of Treviso" to attend the Seminary of Padua, "where he finished his classical and theological studies with distinction". On 18 September 1858, Sarto was ordained a priest, became chaplain at Tombolo. While there, Sarto expanded his knowledge of theology, studying both Thomas Aquinas and canon law, while carrying out most of the functions of the parish pastor, quite ill.
In 1867, he was named archpriest of Salzano. Here he restored the church and expanded the hospital, the funds coming from his own begging and labour, he became popular with the people when he worked to assist the sick during the cholera plague that swept into northern Italy in the early 1870s. He was named a canon of the cathedral and chancellor of the Diocese of Treviso holding offices such as spiritual director and rector of the Treviso seminary, examiner of the clergy; as chancellor he made it possible for public school students to receive religious instruction. As a priest and bishop, he struggled over solving problems of bringing religious instruction to rural and urban youth who did not have the opportunity to attend Catholic schools. In 1878, Bishop Federico Maria Zinelli died. Following Zinelli's death, the canons of cathedral chapters inherited the episcopal jurisdiction as a corporate body, were chiefly responsible for the election of a vicar-capitular who would take over the responsibilities of Treviso until a new bishop was named.
In 1879, Sarto was elected to the position, in which he served from December of that year to June 1880. After 1880, Sarto taught moral theology at the seminary in Treviso. On 10 November 1884, he was appointed bishop of Mantua by Leo XIII, he was consecrated six days in Rome in the church of Sant'Apollinare alle Terme Neroniane-Alessandrine, Rome, by Cardinal Lucido Parocchi, assisted by Pietro Rota, by Giovanni Maria Berengo. He was appointed to the honorary position of assistant at the pontifical throne on 19 June 1891. Sarto required p
The Eucharist is a Christian rite, considered a sacrament in most churches, as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper; the elements of the Eucharist, sacramental bread and sacramental wine, are consecrated on an altar and consumed thereafter. Communicants, those who consume the elements, may speak of "receiving the Eucharist", as well as "celebrating the Eucharist". Christians recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about how and when Christ is present. While all agree that there is no perceptible change in the elements, Roman Catholics believe that their substances become the body and blood of Christ. Lutherans believe the true body and blood of Christ are present "in, under" the forms of the bread and wine. Reformed Christians believe in a real spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Others, such as the Plymouth Brethren and the Christadelphians, take the act to be only a symbolic reenactment of the Last Supper and a memorial. In spite of differences among Christians about various aspects of the Eucharist, there is, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "more of a consensus among Christians about the meaning of the Eucharist than would appear from the confessional debates over the sacramental presence, the effects of the Eucharist, the proper auspices under which it may be celebrated"; the Greek noun εὐχαριστία, meaning "thanksgiving", appears fifteen times in the New Testament but is not used as an official name for the rite. Do this in remembrance of me"; the term "Eucharist" is that by which the rite is referred to by the Didache, Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr. Today, "the Eucharist" is the name still used by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans. Other Protestant or Evangelical denominations use this term, preferring either "Communion", "the Lord's Supper", "Memorial", "Remembrance", or "the Breaking of Bread".
Latter-day Saints call it "Sacrament". The Lord's Supper, in Greek Κυριακὸν δεῖπνον, was in use in the early 50s of the 1st century, as witnessed by the First Epistle to the Corinthians: When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk; those who use the term "Eucharist" use the expression "the Lord's Supper", but it is the predominant term among Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, who avoid using the term "Communion". They refer to the observance as an "ordinance"; those Protestant churches avoid the term "sacrament".'Holy Communion' are used by some groups originating in the Protestant Reformation to mean the entire Eucharistic rite. Others, such as the Catholic Church, do not use this term for the rite, but instead mean by it the act of partaking of the consecrated elements; the term "Communion" is derived from Latin communio, which translates Greek κοινωνία in 1 Corinthians 10:16: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The phrase appears in various related forms five times in the New Testament in contexts which, according to some, may refer to the celebration of the Eucharist, in either closer or symbolically more distant reference to the Last Supper, it is the term used by the Plymouth Brethren. The "Blessed Sacrament" and the "Blessed Sacrament of the Altar" are common terms used by Catholics and some Anglicans for the consecrated elements when reserved in a tabernacle. "Sacrament of the Altar" is in common use among Lutherans. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the term "The Sacrament" is used of the rite. Mass is used in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Churches, by many Anglicans, in some other forms of Western Christianity. At least in the Catholic Church, the Mass is a longer rite which always consists of two main parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in that order; the Liturgy of the Word consists of readings from scripture (the
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends six weeks before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins and denial of ego; this event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Methodist, Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches observe the Lenten season; the last week of Lent is Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. Following the New Testament story, Jesus' crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, at the beginning of the next week the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday recalls the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the account of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days. Many Christians add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God.
The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues, other elaborate religious symbols are veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. Throughout Christendom, some adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of meat, most notably among Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Anglicans. Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Depending on the Christian denomination and local custom, Lent ends either on the evening of Maundy Thursday, or at sundown on Holy Saturday, when the Easter Vigil is celebrated. Regardless, Lenten practices are properly maintained until the evening of Holy Saturday.
The English word Lent is a shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning "spring season", as its Dutch language cognate lente still does today. A dated term in German, Lenz, is related. According to the Oxford English Dictionary,'the shorter form seems to be a derivative of *laŋgo- long... and may have reference to the lengthening of the days as characterizing the season of spring'. The origin of the -en element is less clear: it may be a suffix, or lencten may have been a compound of *laŋgo-'long' and an otherwise little-attested word *-tino, meaning'day'. In languages spoken where Christianity was earlier established, such as Greek and Latin, the term signifies the period dating from the 40th day before Easter. In modern Greek the term is Σαρακοστή, derived from the earlier Τεσσαρακοστή, meaning "fortieth"; the corresponding word in Latin, quadragesima, is the origin of the term used in Latin-derived languages and in some others: for example, Croatian korizma, French carême, Irish carghas, Italian quaresima, Portuguese quaresma, Albanian kreshma, Romanian păresimi, Spanish cuaresma, Basque garizuma, Galician coresma, Welsh crawys.
In other languages, the name used refers to the activity associated with the season. Thus it is called "fasting period" in Czech and Norwegian, it is called "great fast" in Polish and Russian; the terms used in Filipino are Mahál na Araw. Various Christian denominations calculate the 40 days of Lent differently; the way they observe Lent differs. In the Roman Rite since 1970, Lent finishes on Holy Thursday Evening; this comprises a period of 44 days. The Lenten fast excludes Sundays and continues through Good Friday and Holy Saturday, totaling 40 days. In the Ambrosian Rite, Lent begins on the Sunday that follows what is celebrated as Ash Wednesday in the rest of the Latin Catholic Church, ends as in the Roman Rite, thus being of 40 days, counting the Sundays but not Holy Thursday; the day for beginning the Lenten fast is the first weekday in Lent. The special Ash Wednesday fast is transferred to the first Friday of the Ambrosian Lent; until this rite was revised by Saint Charles Borromeo the liturgy of the First Sunday of Lent was festive, celebrated in white vestments with chanting of the Gloria in Excelsis and Alleluia, in line with the recommendation in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast, do not look gloomy".
The period of Lent observed in the Eastern Catholic Churches corresponds to that in other churches of Eastern Christianity that have similar traditions. In Protestant and Western Orthodox Churches, the season of Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to the evening of Holy Saturday; this calculation makes Lent last 46 days if the 6 Sundays are included, but only 40 days if they are excluded. This definition is still that of the Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, Western Rite Orthodox Church. In the Byzantine Rite, i.e. the Eastern Orthodox Great Lent is the most important fasting season in the church year. The 40 days of Great Lent includes Sundays, begins on Clean Monday and are immediatel
Christmas is an annual festival, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed 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 in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it; the traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies. When Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who further disseminated the information.
Although the month and date of Jesus' birth are unknown, the church in the early fourth century fixed the date as December 25. This corresponds to the date of the solstice on the Roman calendar. Most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, adopted universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. However, some Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which corresponds to a January date in the Gregorian calendar. For Christians, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than the exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas; the celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, viewing a Nativity play, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, pulling Christmas crackers and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, wreaths and holly.
In addition, several related and interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses; the economic impact of Christmas has grown over the past few centuries in many regions of the world. "Christmas" is a shortened form of "Christ's mass". The word is recorded as Crīstesmæsse in 1038 and Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst is from Greek Khrīstos, a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ, "Messiah", meaning "anointed"; the form Christenmas was historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal. Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas found in print, based on the initial letter chi in Greek Khrīstos, "Christ", though numerous style guides discourage its use.
In addition to "Christmas", the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The Anglo-Saxons referred to the feast as "midwinter", or, more as Nātiuiteð. "Nativity", meaning "birth", is from Latin nātīvitās. In Old English, Gēola referred to the period corresponding to December and January, equated with Christian Christmas. "Noel" entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself from the Latin nātālis meaning "birth". The gospels of Luke and Matthew describe Jesus as being born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary. In Luke and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, Jesus is born there and laid in a manger. Angels proclaimed him a savior for all people, shepherds came to adore him. Matthew adds that the magi follow a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus, born the king of the Jews. King Herod orders the massacre of all the boys less than two years old in Bethlehem, but the family flees to Egypt and returns to Nazareth.
The nativity stories recounted in Matthew and Luke prompted early Christian writers to suggest various dates for the anniversary. Although no date is indicated in the gospels, early Christians connected Jesus to the Sun through the use of such phrases as "Sun of righteousness." The Romans marked the winter solstice on December 25. The first recorded Christmas celebration was in Rome on December 25, 336. Christmas played a role in the Arian controversy of the fourth century. After this controversy was played out, the prominence of the holiday declined; the feast regained prominence after 800. Associating it with drunkenness and other misbehavior, the Puritans banned Christmas during the Reformation, it remained disreputable. In the early 19th century, Christmas was reconceived by Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, other authors as a holiday emphasizing family, kind-heartedness, gift-giving, Santa Claus. Christmas does not appear on th