By Hunter Lambert
While anyone who celebrates Christmas knows the original story behind the Christian religions and the holiday, not very many people know about the history of the holiday itself. If you would like to know more about the history of Christmas celebrations, or you just want to know where some of our holiday traditions came from, look no further.
How far back can we date the celebration of Christmas? Some of you might be saying: “2016 years of course!” While that is true to an extent, people really didn’t celebrate Christmas until many centuries after the original one took place. Even when people started to celebrate Christmas it still hardly looked anything like the holiday we know today. It wasn’t until the 9th Century AD that Christmas really became popular. By the end of the Middle Ages, the holiday was extremely popular, and was beginning to transform into its current form.
Although the exact reason for the Date of Dec. 25 is unknown, it is speculated that the origin stems from a Roman Festival celebrating the birth of one of their gods, when Christianity became the dominant religion in Rome, it would make sense that they would continue to celebrate on that day.
Over time as more and more cultures began to be converted, more of their winter celebrations were transferred over as well. One notable example of this is the Pagan winter festival of Yule. Many of the traditions found in Yule are now seen today, such as gift giving, and the Yule Log(which now takes its form as a cake or a small log to burn in a fire place.). At first Gift giving usually took place between Landlords, and Tenants, and gifts were usually given on Dec. 6th, not on Christmas Eve.
Many of our Christmas Traditions come from either England or Germany. The early Colonies were not especially fond of Christmas. In the seventeen hundreds Christmas was much more popular in Germany than in America. It wasn’t until the eighteen hundreds that Christmas really bloomed here. With so many immigrants coming from the countries that are now Germany, much of their traditions were carried over with them. Including the name Santa Claus. If it wasn’t for this immigration from German speaking countries, we would probably call Santa, Father Christmas.
The only thing obvious about the origins of Christmas is that they are long and complex. It took a long time for Christmas to become even remotely recognizable to what it is today, or to be celebrated at all. Just like everything else in our world, holidays are not stagnant, they are constantly changing. New ones are created, and old ones die out. Who know’s what Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter) will look like in fifty, one hundred, or even a thousand years from today. Only time will tell.