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History of Christmas: Origins, Traditions & Facts- The Birth of Jesus Christ

By Saumya | December 7, 2022 1:26 pm
What Is Christmas: A Brief History and Origin of Christmas

For many, Christmas is considered one of the most beautiful times of the year. According to studies, about 95 percent of Christians and 90 percent of Americans celebrate this festival each year, which means it’s one of the most celebrated holidays centered around various loved traditions such as decorating houses, setting up a Christmas tree, cooking Christmas food and desserts, attending church celebrations on Christmas eve, eating up holiday desserts and food, and of course exchanging gifts with our loved ones. The staggering numbers aren’t surprising all the time; people start to celebrate as soon as the leaves begin to change into fall colors.

Christmas is definitely the busiest time of year for everyone, and there’s no secret about it. But, with all the excitement around the corner of the holiday, have you ever wondered how the festival started? Well, we’ve got you covered! Go through the blog below and understand the history and backstory of Christmas. Many of you already know the festival has had many changes since it started.

Keep on reading because this year, when you perform rituals and take part in Christmas traditions such as whipping up with your family, setting up a Christmas tree, or singing carols, you’ll have a better understanding of the history of the festival and such a great appreciation of the most magnificent time of the year.

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When is Christmas, and When did it begin?

If we go on record, Christmas most likely began near the 4th century, officially as a festival. However, even before Jesus, winters have always been there for celebrations.

According to History Channel,

“Many people rejoice at the time of winter solstice since they’ve already surpassed the worst of winters, and it’s time to look forward to extended hours of sun and longer days.”

Some of the most sacred festivals celebrated by Romans at that time were Yule, which was praised by The Norse, and Germans honored Oden god. In comparison, the Romans celebrated Saturnalia to honor their god of agriculture, Saturn. Also, in honor of Mithra, an infant god, a festival called Juvenalia used to be celebrated on December 25.

However, when Christianity existed, the birth of Jesus wasn’t actually celebrated, and Easter was considered the main festival. Also, there’s no specific date mentioned about the birth of Jesus Christ in the Bible, but it is believed that it would have taken place on January 6 and not on December 25.

  • Christmas during 4th Century- 17th Century

    Christmas during 4th & 17th century

    In the 4th century, everything changed when Pope Julius announced the official birth of Jesus would be celebrated on December 25. But why did that happen? The actual reason is still debated; however, it’s the general belief that the reason behind choosing December 25 was to embrace the probability that Christians would continue the celebration over pagan traditions that used to be celebrated earlier.

    By 432, the practice of celebrating Christmas had reached Egypt, and by the Middle age, the festival had spread all around the world and entirely replaced pagan festivities. In the latter years, the popularity of Christmas would also continue to spread in other parts of the world. Thus, the official birth of Jesus Christ started getting celebrated on December 25, and January 6 was honored as the feast of Epiphany. This was commemorated on the grounds of the arrival of wise men in Bethlehem and found Christ in a trough. Hence, this twelve-day period started getting celebrated as twelve days of Christmas.

  • 17th Century- Present Day

    17th Century- Present Day: Christmas

    Religious reform started taking place in the 17th century, and Christmas didn’t remain untouched. Oliver Cromwell canceled the festival officially, and it didn’t return until Charles II started ruling. In 1620, Pilgrims went to North America, but they didn’t come with Christmas, and the festival was actually banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The Americans didn’t want to accept anything British, so they outlawed the celebration post-American Revolution. So, Christmas was not considered a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

    Some immigrants in the United States, like Dutch families, brought back the festival with a few new traditions. These immigrants would honor Saint Nicholas and come up with new abroad traditions such as the Christmas Tree, which molded the festive traditions and became one of the most loved things today about Christmas.

    Have you ever thought about why the festival is called Christmas? Well, the answer is not as complicated as other things. As per Newsweek, the term Christmas combines two words, i.e., ‘Christmas’ and ‘Mass.’

What is the Origin of the Christmas Tree?

Origin of the Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir, traditionally associated with Christmas. The custom was first recorded in early modern Germany. It is claimed to be descended from the Roman Saturnalia when greenery and wreaths were hung on trees. In the 18th century, it became associated with the Christmas season, when it was also known as a Yule tree or Yuletide tree. By the early 19th century, it was common in cities in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In North America, it came later; during the first half of the 19th century, it was associated with Christmas celebrations but was not yet an established tradition.

In 1851, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha sent Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom a Christmas tree made from a branch that he had taken from a tree that grew in Coburg during his youth. When his grandson Prince Charles Albert (later King Edward VII) visited Germany in 1860, he fell in love with another tree that he saw at Neuhaus Castle near Coburg. He had one brought to Windsor Castle from Coburg in 1861. He was so impressed by the German Christmas tree that he decided to introduce the custom to England. The German-style Christmas tree became widely established in Britain during Queen Victoria’s reign.

How is Christmas Day celebrated?

How is Christmas Day celebrated

Christmas Day is a special day for Christians around the world. On this day, people attend church to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Many people read the Bible on this day and remember all the good things Jesus did for them.

After the service, many people will go to a Christmas dinner. In most countries, families will eat a special dinner on this day. This dinner is called a “Christmas dinner” or “Christmas lunch.” The dinner is usually turkey, ham, or roast beef with potatoes, vegetables, dessert, and more. In some places, a turkey dinner is set up in a “restaurant” and people can go to eat there for a fee.

After dinner, many children like to dress up as Santa Claus or elves and go around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols and collecting money for charity (charity: approximately $0.50-$1). They sing Christmas carols outside houses that have lights on the house and the people inside their homes will donate money to them. Some children ask if they can come into the homes to sing carols and collect money. This is called “trick-or-treating.” Sometimes, people give candy or other treats instead of money.

On Christmas Day, some families enjoy going ice skating in a skating rink (ice skating rink: an area that is made of ice where people can skate), having snowball fights (snowball fight: two or more people throwing snow at each other), or going skiing (skiing: sliding down snow on skis).

What is the Importance of exchanging Christmas Cards on Christmas Day?

When someone sends us a greeting card on normal days, we feel very happy and we feel that they have remembered us. Same way, when someone sends us a greeting card on special occasions like Christmas, we feel very happy that they have thought of us on that special occasion. Hence, you should send Christmas card on Christmas day to your beloved ones to show them that they are special to you.

Christmas is the festival of love and happiness. And, it is not just about the exchange of gifts. It is about sharing happiness and love among loved ones. Sending Christmas cards on Christmas day to your loved ones will let them know that you, their loved one, are thinking about them on this special day. It is a way of showing your love and affection towards others.

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Interesting Facts and Information About Christmas

  1. Who is Santa Claus?

    In the Western world, Santa Claus is a jolly old man who lives at the North Pole with his elves and reindeer and makes toys for good children and coal for bad ones. He has a white beard and wears a red suit. He is celebrated on December 25, Father’s Christmas Day. Children leave their shoes out on the night of December 24 so Santa Clause can come and fill them with presents. In some countries, children put carrots in their shoes so the deer can eat them.

  2. Where does Santa Claus live?

    Santa has his own house at the North Pole. It’s just down the street from the elves’ houses. Santa gets up early and checks his list of who is naughty or nice. He checks to see if the children are behaving, and he gives presents to good children. He also has a lot of other work to do. He has to make toys, write letters to all the children, and decide where to visit next.

  3. What is the meaning of Christmas Eve?

    Christmas Eve is a festival celebrated on December 24 annually. It is considered as the eve of Christmas Day and it is primarily known as the beginning of the preparation for Christmas Day. The word Christmas has also been derived from Christ’s Mass, which means the mass or the holy communion of Jesus Christ.

  4. Who first invented Christmas?

    The holiday season as we know it in the West is a Christian invention, a celebration of the birth of Jesus. The American Christmas is based on the traditions of the Dutch who settled in New York in 1620. These traditions included a yule log, which was burned during winter solstice celebrations before the introduction of Christianity to Europe and the celebration of Christmas.

  5. How did the name Christmas come about?

    The origin of the name Christmas is disputed. The most common explanation is that it comes from the words “Christ’s Mass”. It is also suggested that it comes from the word “Crīstes mæsse”, a phrase that means “Christ’s mass”.

  6. Who Invented Christmas?

    Christmas was not celebrated in the first century, but it was the early church fathers who associated it with the birth of Jesus.

    The pagan Romans had already observed a mid-winter festival called Saturnalia, which started on December 17 and continued to December 24. During this time, people gave gifts and feasted, as they believed that the winter solstice was a time of renewal.

    The mid-winter celebrations that occurred amongst pagan religions were an attempt to bring light into their dark days. They believed that the birth of the sun’s son would bring peace and renewed strength to their crops and animals.

    It was the Roman Empire who introduced these celebrations at Christmas to the rest of the world in A.D. 336. Emperor Constantine ordered that everyone should gather together to celebrate this festival called “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti”, which means “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun”.

Wrapping Up:

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