The Origins of Christmas: Tradition and History!

For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight that are called Christmas. It is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. With the spread of Christianity beyond Europe and North America, the celebration of Christmas was transferred to societies throughout the non-Western world. In many of these countries, Christians are not the majority population, and, therefore, the religious holiday has not become a cultural holiday. Christmas customs in these societies thus often echo Western traditions because the people were exposed to Christianity as a religion and cultural artifact of the West.

Cr; Pinterest

History check!

For centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world begins with December 24th, Christmas Eve. The practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening.

Christmas means “Christ-mass.” Although the date is a guess, the tradition of observing it goes back to at least the fourth century. Under the influence of the church, Christian traditions replaced pagan solstice festivals throughout Europe. Often the more innocent pagan practices (such as bringing in a Yule log, decorating with holly and the like) were carried over into the Christmas observance, transfigured with new meaning.

Who is Santa Claus?

Inspired by St. Nicholas, this Christmas tradition has Christian roots, rather than pagan ones. Born in southern Turkey around 280, he was a bishop in the early Christian church and suffered persecution and imprisonment for his faith. Coming from a wealthy family, he was renowned for his generosity towards the poor and disenfranchised. The legends surrounding him abound, but the most famous is how he saved three daughters from being sold into slavery. There was no dowry to entice a man to marry them, so it was their father’s last resort. St. Nicholas is said to have tossed gold through an open window into the home, thus saving them from their fate. Legend has it that the gold landed in a sock drying by the fire, so children started hanging stockings by their fires in hopes St. Nicholas would toss gifts into them.

Cr: iStock

What are the traditions?

The tradition of celebrating Christmas as a secular family holiday is splendidly illustrated by a number of English “Christmas” carols such as “Here We Come A-Wassailing” or “Deck the Halls.” It can also be seen in the practice of sending Christmas card which began in England in the 19th century.

The morning of December 25 has become the time for the exchange of gifts in North America. These popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. As given the importance of Christmas, one of the major Christian feast days is under the most European countries observe and Christian influence. Hence, December 26 as a second Christmas holiday.

Hidden Meaning of Christmas

  1. Evergreen Trees were the symbol of eternal life. Martin Luther introduced them to the Reformation Church as a picture of our endless life by bringing in a tree to his family on Christmas
  2. Candles are a picture that Christ is the Light of the world.
  3. Holly speaks of the thorns in His crown
  4. Red is a color of Christmas that speaks of Christ’s blood and death.
  5. Gifts are a reminder of the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus. Each of them speak to a component of His incarnation: Majesty in life, Bitterest Agony in Death and He as God’s Perfect gift to us.
  6. Bells are associated with ringing out news.

In short, where ever you may be, and whatever traditions you follow, we wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of holidays!

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