Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25?
There are several reasons Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25. The date is nine months after March 25, a day recognized by Christians as Annunciation. It was the day Mary was told she would was having a baby. The nine months that follow are an approximation of Jesus’ birth. Dec. 25 also coincides with pagan Winter Solstice celebrations like Saturnalia' and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti. Since they were historically celebrated around that time of year there was precedent for holiday festivities during this time of year.
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What Does the Name 'Christmas' Mean and What Is the Meaning of Christmas?
Christmas is a shortened from the words “Christ’s mass.” It’s derived from the Middle English word "Cristemasse" which has Greek, Hebrew and Latin origins. Christmas is an annual holiday that honors the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated by Christians around the world and is regarded as an important religious and cultural holiday.
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How Can We Celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is traditionally celebrated in many ways and celebrations vary across cultures. In the days leading up to Christmas, people usually put up special decorations including colorful lights and evergreen trees. Gifts are often placed under the tree and exchanged on Christmas day among loved ones. Large meals are also typically served as part of the celebration as well.
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During the California gold rush, San Franciscans were introduced to the grape-based spirit pisco thanks to ships stopping in the port of Pisco, Peru, to pick up supplies on their way to the West Coast. San Francisco bartender Duggan McDonnell of Cantina adapted this recipe for aged pisco–milk punch from Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book of cocktail recipes called the Bartenders Guide. It’s a unique punch: You’ll infuse pisco with spices and citrus for 2 days, add milk and green tea syrup to it, age that mixture for 3 days, then strain it through cheesecloth to remove all the curdled bits. It may sound weird, but it produces a spiced, balanced holiday drink that’s not too rich or too sweet, despite being dairy-based.
Special equipment: You will need 1 large piece of ultrafine woven cheesecloth. It can be purchased at cooking supply stores or online.
What to buy: Pisco is a brandy distilled from South American white Muscat grapes. It can be found at well-stocked liquor stores or online.
Game plan: The pisco and rum are infused for 2 days before the milk is added, then the mixture needs 3 more days to age before serving, so plan accordingly. Once made, the milk punch will last up to 1 month stored in the refrigerator.
This recipe was featured as part of our Drinks from San Francisco’s Sleazy Past.