slideshow widget

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

History of Christmas

Christmas falls on December 25 each year.  Believe it or not, this is not because this day is the day Jesus was born.  The truth is, the Church had no idea what day Jesus was born, let alone what year.  The reason December 25 was chosen for the celebration was because that is the date of a huge Pagan celebration.

The Pagans are people who believe in many gods, such as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians did.  December 25th was a day when the pagans gave presents to kids.  It actually started out these presents were simple, such as twigs from a sacred tree or brush as an offering of good luck.  Gifts became more elaborate over time, such as carvings of the gods, jewelry that acted as amulets, and food.  Food in and of itself was a very sacred thing in the ancient world, something that was very valuable, and often used as money, so it may have been the most valuable gift of all.  Yet this gift giving was not performed on Christmas, it was performed on  the first day of the calendar year.

The Catholic Church chose December 25th for the celebration of the birth of Christ because they didn't want to compete with the pagan holiday, so they adapted it as their on.  Over a few centuries the pagan holiday faded out and the Christians owned the holiday as their own.  It became known as Christmas day. The idea of giving gifts continued, although the church frowned on this.  The idea was that the three kings gave gifts to a baby Jesus, and this even became the major theme of Christmas songs.  Then St. Nicholas gave gifts to kids, and this theme caught on and ultimately formed a figure called Santa Clause.  Yet even the figure Santa Clause is derived from a Pagan spirit.

By the middle ages the Church gave up its fight, probably because those who were running the church by then had appreciated the joy of getting gifts as children.  Truly, though, the intended meaning of Christmas is to appreciate the examples performed by Jesus Christ, which included giving special gifts of food, time, good health, and life.

No comments: