The Story behind Christmas

  Christmas is a holiday that is over 2,000 years old. When we speak of Christmas, we tend to think of decorations, shiny lights, snow, presents, and trees. But some of these are quite recent traditions. What is the real story behind Christmas? Christmas is a holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the son of God in the Christian1 religion2. Over 2,000 years ago, Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary had to leave their home and travel to Bethlehem.
  
  When they arrived in Bethlehem, all of the inns3 were full and they couldn't find any place to spend the night. To make matters worse, Mary started going into labor4. In the end, a kind-hearted man let them stay in his stable5 with the donkeys and sheep. Jesus was born that night, and he had to sleep in a manger6 because there was no bed for him.

  On that same night, a bright star rose in the sky above the stable. Three wise men saw this star and realized it was a sign from God. They followed the star and found Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. To celebrate Jesus' birth, they each gave him a present. This is why we exchange gifts at Christmas.

  聖誕節是一個歷史超過兩千年的節日。當我們提起聖誕節,我們往往會想到裝飾品、閃亮的燈飾、瑞雪、禮物和聖誕樹。不過這當中有一些是相當近代的傳統。聖誕節背後真正的故事究竟為何?聖誕節是慶祝耶穌誕生的節日,在基督教的信仰中,他是上帝之子。於兩千多年前,喬瑟夫和他大腹便便的妻子瑪利亞必須離開家園,長途跋涉到伯利恆(編按:伯利恆為古代以色列的城市,位於約旦河西岸,距耶路撒冷僅有數公里之遙)。

  當他們抵達伯利恆時,當地所有的旅館都客滿,因此他們找不到地方過夜。更糟的是,瑪利亞又即將臨盆。最後一名好心的男子讓他們借住於馬廄中,與驢子和羊隻同睡。耶穌於當晚出生,由於那裏沒有床,所以他只好睡在馬槽裡。

  當天夜晚,馬廄上空升起了一顆明亮的星星。三位智者看到這顆星星,便明瞭那是上帝的啟示。他們追尋著星星,找到了耶穌、瑪利亞和喬瑟夫。為了慶祝耶穌的誕生,他們分別送了一樣禮物給耶穌。這就是為什麼我們會在聖誕節互換禮物的原因。

《Building Your Vocabulary》
1. pregnant a. 懷孕的
Michelle is now eight months pregnant.
蜜雪兒目前已經懷胎八月了。
2. kind-hearted a. 好心的;仁慈的
The kind-hearted lady gave her seat to me.
那位好心的女士讓位給我。
3. exchange vt. 交換;調換
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