A good question. You will agree that both these notions are strong and independent. As well as each of them has it’s own deep history, meaning and influence on our life.
The winter has already come and soon we all will be in a rush preparing our homes and ourselves for the holidays, presents and miracles that we hope to experience during the Christmas time.
But Christmas has not always been such a commercial holiday. This day is not only about red ribbons, gift-giving, Christmas trees or a huge amount of Christmas lights in every city. If we ask ourselves what is the initial meaning of this day the different spectrum of colors will appear in front of you. This is what for instance Wikipedia tells us – Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.
Winter festivals have always been a popular feature in many cultures throughout the centuries. And even though the term “Christmas” first became part of the English language in the 11th century. Many peoples couldn’t drop a celebration that was commemorating the party season. It was due to the lack of agricultural work and the start of short days.
Christians were considering Christmas as the holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus. If omitting the fact that the official date of the birth of Christ is notably absent from the Bible and has always been hotly contested the actual tradition celebrating Christmas on the 25th December was borrowed. It has become the most prominent religious celebration in Europe only in the High Middle Ages (1000-1300).
Many monarchs chose this day for their coronation. Especially in England, for example, William the Conqueror, who was coronated on the saint day in Westminster Abbey.
In Medieval times the celebration of Christmas was not so big also due to the fact that Church was critical in accepting Catholic, or the Protestant world view. So it happened to be that celebration of Christmas could get one into serious trouble. In much of the medieval world, the festive day was not celebrated or accepted to the fullest extent. In some cases, this day was even dangerous, for Jews it was a time of danger for instance. At Korneuburg in around 1305, townsfolk accused the Jews of procuring a consecrated communion wafer at Christmas and desecrating it.
In some sources, you will even find that advent (Christmas celebration was covering 12 days from 25 December to Epiphany on 6 January) was seen as a time of special preparation for God’s coming. By this preparation, people were considering the time of exile, desire, longing, and repentance. So instead of gifts and dinners, they were emulating medieval saints and trampling on sin, temptation, and unfortunate demons.
Renaissance art was produced during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries in Europe. For so many reasons this time considered to be the most productive in a matter of well-known masterpieces. The artworks of these centuries were produced under the combined influences of increased awareness of nature, a revival of classical learning, and a more individualistic view of man.
As many sources write, during this period, a cultural movement toward Humanism arose. And many artists returned to Classical Roman and Greek philosophies concerning universal man and his place in the world. Having this new direction in painting resulted in fresh depictions of divine subjects. The man is now depicted with more emotionality and with a wider range of human expressions.
Catholic Church and wealthy merchants ordered a large number of painters to tell the story of the origins of Christianity. And when we are talking about Christianity we can’t avoid the topic of Christmas itself. So artists were competing for the contracts from Church, which in result led us to so many masterful artworks that tell original Christmas story.
The list is not that small, even though we know that Christmas was not as big as we celebrate it now. But still, it was a family feast and a great story for artists to tell.
And it is actually only a small part of all masterpieces that appeared to our world. The topic of Christmas is very inclusive. Even though it was not a big holiday, still it has been important for peoples. Nations were celebrating this day regarding restrictions and prohibitions. Because Christmas is not only Christian but also a cultural holiday of the year. Families gather together to spend time with each other. This day has a special magic that gives people a brighter touch. The time in the year when we bless each other for new achievements, light and happiness. People share carols, evenings, presents and love. Despite all rush, we love Christmas for bringing such a special mood to every house.
So make sure to send your wishes to everyone you love and care about! BeArte Gallery team also wishes you joy-filled holidays and wonderful celebration of the upcoming Christmas and New Year!