The brief history of Christmas

Christmas is a time for families, whether related or not, to come together and celebrate the holiday spirit with some hot cocoa and your favorite Christmas movie that you watch every year! As someone who really likes Christmas, I thought it’d be fun to learn the history, and origin, of Christmas.

In most areas of Europe, December was a perfect time to celebrate, as most cattle were slaughtered so they wouldn’t have to be fed durning winter. During this time, they had the largest supply of fresh meat, and most beer and wine being fermented would be ready to drink by this time. In Germany, they celebrated the pagan god Odin during mid-winter. Germans believed Odin would make flights through the sky during the night to observe his people. He would then decide who prospered and who perished.

In the early stages of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday, and Jesus’ birthday was not celebrated. However, in the 4th century, the Church decided a date to celebrate his birthday since the Bible doesn’t mention the date. There is evidence to suggest that his birth took place during the spring, but Pope Julius I chose December 25th so that they could absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. By having Christmas at the same time as other traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be embraced.

In the early 17th century, religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans took over England, and they vowed to get rid of decadence and thus cancelled Christmas. However, due to popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne, and Christmas came back with him.

In 1620, the pilgrims came to America, and didn’t bring Christmas with them because their beliefs were more orthodox than Cromwell. Christmas was not a holiday in early America. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. However, after the American Revolution, Americans had rejected English customs and Christmas became a federal holiday in June of 1870.

Washington Irving wrote a book called The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, which was a series of stories depicting the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. All the traditions he wrote about in his 1819 book were nothing he actually had attended, but were things he had imagined. Many historians say that Irving had invented the traditions. Around the same time, Charles Dickens created A Christmas Carol. The story had a poignant message of the importance of charity and good will towards everyone, which struck a chord with Americans and Englishmen. Also, families were becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotions of children.

For more information go to http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas

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