Christmas Greetings in its Various Forms

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The tradition of giving Christmas greetings - means and ways of expression

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Christmas greetings as defined is a selection of salutations often spoken with the purpose of giving good cheer to strangers, family, or friends, practiced worldwide during the months of December and January, at least by Christians.

History. The tradition of giving Christmas greetings was started in the 1500s by the town mayor of Hereford and given to his constituents via a publication. The first greeting cards, however were printed in the 1800s which started the more personalized version of greeting. It was further popularized when Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol was published also about the same time.

Ways of expression. There are various means of greeting friends, relatives and colleagues during the Christmas season. At one time or another we have utilized one or two of the media used:

The greeting card. The pre-‘computer’ civilization relied heavily on posts to send greeting cards. These greeting cards are indeed works of art, being mostly hand painted. Most of them depict vignettes of the Christmas season, often a Christmas tree with ornaments set in a snowy background, a fireplace with logs burning and with a colourful wreath, with a gold-lettered “Merry Christmas” emblazoned in front. A popular practice is to collect the Christmas greeting cards as they arrive and display them on a coffee table so that everyone can see and appreciate them.

The Christmas Carol. In many different parts of the world, the practice is carolling or singing Christmas greetings and stories. The carollers go from house to house to sing, and get food or some money. There are even contests of choirs complete with costumes and musical instruments. This effectively brings good cheer, camaraderie and good will to all.
Telegrams. From the 19th to the 21st century the telegrams were the fastest means of giving Christmas greetings. There were telegrams with flowers, telegrams with toys, even telegrams with cakes, and the most entertaining singing telegram where the person delivering the telegram actually sings the greeting to the receiver.

Emails. Nowadays in the advent of the computers and cellular phones, Christmas greetings are sent through emails and text messages complete with moving pictures and animation like hearts, angels with fluttering wings and the universal Smiley. Sometimes an emailed Christmas greeting goes around the world several times, passed on by recipients to others.

Last of course is the online chat. With a computer hooked up in the internet and a webcam with audio you can give your Christmas greetings to a friend or relative thousands of miles away or in another part of the world (that you have till now only dreamed up), in person, in real time. Technology at its best.

As far as can be remembered, Christmas greetings had always been part of the celebration of Christmas. No Christmas season can be complete without human beings greeting each other and wishing each other well. Just like in birthday greetings, Christmas greetings are part of a tradition of acknowledging that we are part of humanity And, in Christmas time, we become immortal through the Christmas greeting, transcending space, language and time.
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