In December, many Christians celebrate a holiday called Christmas.1What is Christmas? During this season, there is particular emphasis on an event that occurred around 2,000 years ago in the town of Bethlehem in Judea (today called Israel).
Christmas commemorates the birth of a baby—an event recorded in the Bible in such New Testament passages as Luke 2:1–20 and prophesied about in Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 7:14. The name given to this baby was Jesus.
During Christmas time, many churches display nativity scenes. These exhibits show the newborn Jesus in a stable surrounded by various animals, shepherds, and Mary and Joseph. Such nativity scenes traditionally have also been displayed in public places (shopping centers, public schools, parks, etc.) in much of our Western world.
Also at Christmas, people sing special songs known as “carols.” The words of many of these carols outline the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.
Because of the influence of Christianity and the birth of baby Jesus, history is divided into two basic divisions—AD (Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord,” Jesus) and BC (“before Christ”). As evidenced by the fact that Western calendars and historians count the number of years from this time, this was a very significant event even apart from religious aspects.