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The custom was to celebrate a saint's birth into eternal life—in other words, his death. It took a while, though, for the Church to develop the feast of Christmas. While it may have been celebrated in Egypt as early as the third century, it did not spread throughout the Christian world until the middle of the fourth century.

Cantiamo! Concert for a Winter's Eve

It was first celebrated along with Epiphany , on January 6; but slowly Christmas was separated out into its own feast, on December Many of the early Church Fathers regarded this as the actual date of Christ's birth, though it does coincide with the Roman festival of Natalis Invicti the winter solstice, which the Romans celebrated on December 25 , and the Catholic Encyclopedia does not reject the possibility that the date was chosen as "a deliberate and legitimate 'baptism' of a pagan feast.

But they believe that an old lady called 'Befana' brings them.

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Children put stockings up by the fireplace for Befana to fill. In Austria , at Epiphany, some people write a special sign in chalk over their front door.

Origin of the Feast of Christmas | Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

It's a reminder of the Wise Men that visited the baby Jesus. It's made from the year split in two with initials of the names that are sometimes given to 'the three wise men', Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, in the middle.

The sign is meant to protect the house for the coming year. Some parts of Germany also have the tradition of marking over doors.


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At Epiphany in Belgium, children dress up as the three wise men and go from door to door to sing songs and people give them money or sweets, kind of like Trick or Treating on Halloween. Children in Poland also go out singing on Epiphany.

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Traditionally the women get the day off and men do the housework and cooking! It is becoming more popular and many Irish women now get together on the Sunday nearest Epiphany and have tea and cakes!

In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which celebrates Christmas on 7th January , twelve days after Christmas, on 19th January, the three day celebration of Ethiopians Timkat starts. This celebrates Jesus's baptism. The King Cake will have a little baby plastic doll inside which represents Jesus ; whoever gets the piece with the baby has to supply the next King Cake!

Epiphany Eve also known as Twelfth Night marks the end of the traditional Christmas celebrations and is the time when you were meant to take Christmas decorations down - although some people leave them up until Candlemas.