Christmas is just around the corner once again – and it’s known as the most wonderful time of the year for many!
It’s a widely celebrated holiday centered on many beloved traditions, such as decorating our homes and putting up a Christmas tree, baking Christmas desserts, preparing Christmas food gifts, singing Christmas carols, and exchanging gifts on the big day.
With all the excitement surrounding the holiday, have you ever wondered how it all started? How did the tradition of Christmas trees, carols and presents come about, and how far back do they go? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, and explore the history of Christmas.
When Did Christmas Begin?
We traditionally celebrate Christmas on December 25 – however this was not always the case! People all over the world have been celebrating Christmas as the birth of Jesus of Nazareth for over two millennia. But in fact, the Bible makes no mention of a specific time or date for Jesus’ birth. In fact, it’s a vague timeline between December 25th and January 6th – hence the tradition of 12 days of Christmas.
Prior to Christianity, December was already a significant month because many people around the world celebrated the winter solstice. To them, it meant that the worst of winter had passed, and it was now the time to celebrate.
Before Christmas, Easter was the main holiday in early Christianity. Christians believed that Jesus was actually born on January 6, until Pope Julius I decided to make December 25 the official day to commemorate Jesus’ birth. The general consensus is that he changed the date in order to adopt and incorporate pagan festivals that took place at the same time.
In Scandinavia, the Norse would celebrate Yule from December 21 to January 1 to commemorate the end of their dark days, as the sun would finally return. Wine and beer that was harvested would also be ready and nicely fermented by the end of the year. That meant it was the perfect time for consumption. Families would light large fires at home, and feast repeatedly on meat and wine.
How Did Christmas Traditions Start?
In the 16th century, Germany started the custom of bringing Christmas trees inside their homes. Around the 1700s, the custom of giving homemade gifts first appeared, then wrapped gifts became tradition in the 1800s.
But it wasn’t until the 19th century that people around the world began to embrace Christmas. Now, popular Christmas customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, celebrating with Christmas carols and cheer.
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