EDITORIAL PEACE AND GOOD WILL All over the world on 25th December Christians celebrate Christmas Day which is acclaimed to be the birthday of Jesus although the date is much controversial. In the West it was not fixed until about the middle of the fourth century and about a century later in the East. The Eastern Armenian Church celebrates the birthday of Jesus on 6th January. Christmas is celebrated with much gaiety, eating and drinking with little thought of its religious significance, There are, of course, the more devoted Christians who treat the occasion with due reverence while for the masses it is just a time for merry making. Muslims have great reverence for Jesus and believe that he was a sinless Messenger of God raised as the expected Messiah for the Israelites. Nevertheless, Muslims do not observe Christmas as a religious festival. No one , however, has any disagreement with the special message of Christmas ‘peace and good will toward men’ which was the good tidings proclaimed by the angels at the time of Jesus’s birth according to the Bible: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14) Through the centuries a variety of customs have been added to Christmas festivities. There are several ideas about the origin of the Christmas tree but it is widely believed that it was introduced in the sixteenth century in Germany by Martin Luther the Protestant reformer. Santa Glaus or Father Christmas is said to have been derived from a fourth century bishop of Asia Minor known as St Nicholas. He was noted for his good works and generosity in giving gifts. However, the present day image of Santa Glaus dressed in his fur trimmed outfit came into vogue about the middle of the nineteenth century. Christmas has not always beem celebrated with gaiety and good cheer. ‘Some Christian denominations have frowned upon such activates and it was not celebrated at all by the Puritans and Calvanists. Celebrations were banned in England when the Puritans came into power under Oliver Cromwell in 1642. Offenders were punished and even for staying at home from work on Christmas Day. (continued on page 18)

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