The History of Christmas

December 25th is often everyone’s favorite day of the year, as it is the day that marks the Christmas holidays. There are joyous times, visits with loved ones, sparkling lights, hot drinks, good food, and presents under the tree. Today, we’ll talk about the origins of Christmas, from the point of view of all nationalities and cultures.

Before the arrival of Jesus, early Europeans celebrated the winter solstice, which was the celebration of passing the worst of winter days. In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule on December 21st and lasted until January. They would set massive logs on fire and feast until the flames went out. In Germany, people would honor the god Odin. They believed he would fly the night sky, cast judgment on people, and decide who would prosper and perish. And in Rome, people would celebrate the Roman god Saturn, the god of agriculture. Food was plenty, schools and businesses closed so all could celebrate, and slaves were given a little freedom and peace.

Fast-forward to the time of Christianity, December 25th was determined by church officials as the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Often Christian holidays were adopted by pagan holidays, as most of the world was turning to Christianity. 

When Puritans came to America from England, their orthodox views actually conflicted with the concept of Christmas. They would look down on the rowdy behavior exhibited. From the 1650s until at least the 1690s, Christmas was actually outlawed. After the American Revolutionary War, English customs were dropped and early Americans stopped celebrating their old traditions. But thankfully, on June 26th, 1870, Christmas was added as a federal holiday in America.

Americans came up with new traditions, changing them from party vibes to more family-friendly. We now celebrate our favorite traditions like decorating a Christmas tree, gifting presents to our loved ones, singing carols, and so much more. Thank goodness that we have Christmas to look forward to each year!

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