Christmas is a special time for many families from all over the world, however, it’s not always celebrated in the same ways. For some, it is a secular event (no religious or spiritual basis); for others, it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ (religious). For most, it is a time for families to gather and enjoy each others company and exchange gifts (regardless of faith).
Christmas has quite an interesting history, dating back thousands of years. People have been celebrating the middle of winter a long time before Jesus came along. Early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the cold dark days of winter. Many different peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice (shortest day of the year) because the days would start getting longer and they could look forward to Spring.
In most areas of Europe, December was a perfect time for celebration. Cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, December was the only time of year when they had fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally ready to drink!
In Rome, Saturnalia was celebrated in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture. It began the week leading up to the winter solstice and continued for a month. Saturnalia was well known for feasts and parties.
The beginnings of Christmas
During the early years of Christianity, the birth of Jesus Christ was not celebrated. In the fourth century, the church decided to create the holiday to honour Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there wasn’t documentation on when he was born (evidence suggests spring)! Some believe the date December 25th was chosen to coincide with existing celebrations and traditions and absorb them (such as Saturnalia). Christmas was originally called the Feast of the Nativity.
Christmas around the world
Many are familiar with the customs and traditions surrounding Christmas in North America and the Britain from movies and TV. But there are many cultures and peoples that celebrate this holiday! Below is some neat information about how some cultures celebrate this famous holiday.
Do you celebrate Christmas? If so, how? Please let us know your thoughts or questions in the comment below. Merry Christmas!