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What is Christmastide?


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Question: "What is Christmastide?"

Christmastide is another name for the Christmas season, which is part of the liturgical calendar, the schedule of events or holidays that hold religious significance to Christians. Christmastide begins on Christmas Eve at sunset, which is the ending of Advent. Christmastide lasts twelve days and ends on the 5th of January. It is followed by the Epiphany season, or Epiphanytide.

For the Christian, Christmastide is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and there are many traditions associated with the season. Buildings and homes are often decorated with nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and ornaments encouraging a spirit of joy and cheer. Gifts are exchanged to commemorate the gifts given to the infant Jesus by the three wise men from the East (Matthew 2:1–12). Christmas carols are sung, usually on Christmas Eve, during a candlelit service. Christmastide is perhaps the most beautiful and beloved of Christian traditions. Trees and ornaments are typically taken down on the 6th of January, which is Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day. If the decorations are not taken down on that day, tradition says they should be left up until February 2, or Candlemas, which celebrates the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple.

During Christmastide, the prophecies of Christ’s birth are read (Isaiah 9:1–6; Isaiah 52:7–10), along with the narratives of His birth as recorded in the Gospels. In liturgical churches, there is a calendar of readings for each day of Christmastide. No matter how it is celebrated, the subject of Christmastide is always the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Recommended Resource: The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel

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What is Christmastide?

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