Why do we sometimes abbreviate Christmas as Xmas? Some people feel that it's because we want to take Christ out of Christmas. But the X is actually the Greek letter Chi. And Chi is the first letter of Christ's name written in Greek and has always stood as a symbol for Christ. This usage has been in use since at least the twelfth century.
The ancient Mesopotamians made wooden images of the monsters that fought with the god Marduk to destroy the world. This took place during the winter solstice. The wooden images were burned to help Marduk overcome evil forces. This is only a possible theory to the origins of the yule log...but the light and warmth would be great comforts in the deadness of winter. So bonfires have always been an important part of the northern European winter Jul or Yule festivals.
Celebrating in China
Here Christmas is called Cheng Dan Jieh, the Holy Birth Festival. China has only been exposed to western culture for about four hundred years and less than one percent of the population is Christian. They have adopted the practices of Christmas celebration from the missionaries that brought them the Good News with their Tree of Light, and their gifts are brought by Lam Khoong-Khoong (Nice Old Father) or Dun Che Lao Run (Christmas Old Man). They hang festive paper lanterns and have plenty of fireworks since this is where they were invented!
*Taken from The Christmas Almanack by Gerard and Patricia Del Re
*Part of the 2009 Holiday Reading Challenge