Christmas CottageThis is a digitally created Christmas cottage by Glenn Franco Simmons. The Christmas holiday season is almost upon us, but how many of us know the history of Christmas?
Let’s start from the beginning.
“The exact birthdays of historical figures from antiquity are often shrouded in uncertainty, and Jesus Christ is no exception,” according to AI-Pro. “His birth’s official recognition on Dec. 25 is more symbolic than precise, as The Bible does not cite his specific birth date. The choice of Dec. 25, interestingly, has roots in ancient Rome’s winter solstice celebrations around that period.
Christmas CottageThis is a digitally created Christmas cottage by Glenn Franco Simmons. “Christian historical accounts tell us that the first Christmas was celebrated on Dec. 25 in 336 during the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared Dec. 25 as the day to celebrate Christ’s birth. However, it is critical to note that this was during a period when Christianity was trying to establish itself among other religions and infuse itself into popular customs.”
December’s significance predates Christianity in Rome, where Romans celebrated Saturnalia, an honor to their god of agriculture, Saturn, from Dec. 17-23.
“The festival was marked by feasting, merriment, gift-giving and social role reversals, with slaves temporarily enjoying the freedoms of their masters,” according to AI-Pro. “Coupled with this was the Roman celebration of the ‘Invincible Sun’ on Dec. 25, marking the winter solstice.
Christmas CottageThis is a digitally created Christmas cottage by Glenn Franco Simmons. “When Christianity spread in Rome, the Church faced resistance from pagans unwilling to abandon their festivals. As a compromise, many speculate, the church merged these pagan traditions with the Christian celebrations ~ resulting in Dec. 25 being marked as Christmas Day.”
Christmas is a holiday celebrated throughout the world in diverse ways.
“Diverse traditions coincide with Christmas around the world,” according to AI-Pro. “Evergreen trees became popular Christmas decorations in 16th century Germany, symbolizing eternal life. Martin Luther, the 16th-century antisemitic Protestant reformer, is said to have added lighted candles to a tree, the precursor to today’s Christmas tree lights.”
So where did Santa Claus come from?
Christmas CottageThis is a digitally created Christmas cottage by Glenn Franco Simmons. “The legend of Santa Claus has roots in the 4th-century Bishop St. Nicholas of Myra, known for secret gift-giving,” AI-Pro stated. “Dutch settlers in America referred to him as ‘Sinterklaas,’ which over time became ‘Santa Claus.’ The modern depiction of Santa ~ a jolly old man with a red suit ~ has been greatly influenced by a 19th-century poem titled ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas,’ and 20th-century Coca-Cola advertisements.”
Christmas continues to evolve.
“Despite its ancient celebrations and deeply religious origins, Christmas has evolved with society over the centuries,” AI-Pro stated. “Today, it is a global celebration that incorporates an array of traditions from various cultures and epochs. The unique blend of religious significance, ancient customs and modern-day festivities highlights the capacity for human societies to adapt and integrate diverse aspects into their celebrations. “Christmas, whether one notes from a religious or secular perspective, has become not just a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ but a universal symbol of peace, joy and goodwill toward people worldwide. For many, it remains a special time for family, charity, and reflection, echoing its historical origins while continually adopting new traditions.”