History Of Christmas: Origin, Celebrating, Popularity And More

If you reside there in Western Hemisphere, a few times of the year are as exciting and magical as Christmas time. And it is nigh upon us once again, as December 25th is right around the corner.

But as we get ready to buy presents for the festivities, it’s worth noting that Christmas as we know it is a recent development. As a matter of fact, the history of Christmas may not be what you imagine. So, just like Scrooge, let’s take a look into yesteryear, as the Ghost of Christmas Past guides and illuminates our journey across time and tradition.

What Is Christmas? Why Do People Call It Christmas?

Beyond exchanging gifts and spending time with your loved ones, just what is Christmas exactly? And where does the name come from? It’s for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, and the word has its roots in the Old English Cristes-messe, which means Christ’s Mass. It has been commonplace to hold a mass on December 25th since 336 A.D. to commemorate his birth.

How Did Christmas Begin? The Origin History

Here the story gets muddy because long before Jesus’ birth, people already celebrated the winter solstice. The shortest day would be December 21st. It is the conclusion of the cold season and the eventual arrival of spring. A pagan ritual devoid of religious connotations, also called yule by the Germanic people. A term that would later see Christian reformation into Yuletide/Christmastide.

It just so happens that the winter solstice falls on the 25th in the Roman calendar. A standard theory is that the holiday Roman holiday celebrated the same day,die solis invicti nati'(date of birth of the unconquered sun), was changed to celebrate Jesus’ birth. The sun’s rebirth can easily be linked symbolically to the son’s birth, known as “the light of the world” in the Gospel of John.

But what about Christmas gifts ideas, you say? That tradition ties to the story of the biblical magi presenting Jesus with frankincense, myrrh, and gold. One was bolstered with the story of the 4th-century bishop Saint Nicholas and his penchant for gift-giving.

And of the merriment and celebrations with copious amounts of alcohol? Why from the Roman festival of Saturnalia, held in honor of Saturn, God of agriculture. They would spend seven days feasting, playing music, drinking, gambling, and socializing. Even the slaves took time from work and participated.

How And When Did People Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas gained its own identity from this eclectic collection of festivities and holidays. Initially, Christmas day wasn’t the most important event, but events on the calendar both before and leading up to it made for a festive season.

There was the 40-day Nativity Fast, held in preparation for the feast to come, which would become the advent period. Said feasts took place on the 12 days of Christmas, after the 25th, ending January 6th. That date represents the magi’s arrival in Bethlehem or the baptism of Jesus according to Western and Eastern Christianity, respectively.

Christmas tree

Decorating for Christmas has existed as long as the solstice celebrations, and it helps people feel Christmassy. The Romans in Saturnalia and the Scandinavians in Yule decorated trees to symbolize life. However, how did we get from there to now?

How Did Christmas Trees Become Popular In The United States?

The tree is one of the most popular gadgets for Christmas. German Lutherans made the first use of a Christmas tree in the 16th century. Later made popular by Queen Victoria in a famous illustration from 1848. Showing the family gathered next to a tree with presents underneath.

An influential and popular American women’s magazine, Godey’s Lady’s Book, would publish an altered version in 1850. In the process, removing any allusions to the royal family instead of changing it into an American scene.

It became the first widely circulated illustration of a Christmas tree as we know it today. The image was published throughout the 50s and 60s and, by the 1870s decorating a Christmas tree had become standard practice across America.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, today, we dash and search for the best holiday deals to uphold the spirit of the season. To remind our dear ones that we are thinking about them and care for them. It is this idea, this goodwill, and compassion that Christmas movies love to portray. It is famous thanks to works like Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’

For centuries we have been celebrating the coming of longer, warmer days. Meeting up and enjoying the company, the merriment, the festivities. Why even Oriental countries have adopted secular values and iconography. Ultimately, Christmas time is a reason to celebrate and wish for a brighter tomorrow for us all.

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James Trotta

James Trotta is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University. He is a degree holder in political science. His studies were a success after emerging among the top students in his class with an honors degree. James’ passion was deeply rooted in politics and news reporting, and he immediately joins the giant news company where he worked as a reporter and news editor for three years. The company locates in New York, and he is so much into US politics. James later quits the job to venture into something more focused on the needs of the people.

Trotta Now works as a writer delivering up-to-date news. He writes up-to-date information about politics, business, and entertainment because these are the lead Niches that directly influence people. James also participates in empowering young talents, where his focus is to mentor upcoming talents in the same field. James acknowledges that his happiness is when he sees young talents becoming an inspiration to many.

He is happy to live in New York since it is a center where he gets first-hand information from the US government. James Trotta hopes to be an ambassador of correct and up-to-date news to all US and international consumers.

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