Some Facts and Folklore about Christmas

  • Christmas in Old English is Crīstesmæsse and means “Christ’s MassChristmas Tree 2013
  • The actual birth day, month and year of Jesus not known.  It is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC
  • Western Christian Church started to associate the date of December 25th with Christmas only in the 4th Century and was not adopted by the Eastern Christian Church until much later.
  • The date of December 25th was associated with Julian calendar, which corresponds to January in the modern-day Gregorian calendar.
  • The general impression is that date of Christmas may have been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived.  This is highly unlikely as that date is not known.
  • The more likely scenario is that December 25th is associated with one or more ancient polytheistic festivals that occurred near southern solstice and Roman winter solstice.
  • This is highly ironic as the Roman Empire was responsible for the torture, crucifixion and execution of Jesus.
  • The celebratory customs associated with Christmas are a hodge-podge of Roman, Pagan, Christian and Secular themes and origins.
  • Some of the celebrations such as the family meals and carols were traditions of pagan farmers’ winter solstice celebrating the fact that they did not have to do as much work in the wither and praying for a good upcoming farming year as the winter was coming to an end and spring was about to arrive.
  • One of the major Roman festivals that inflamed Christmas was Saturnalia in honor of the deity Saturn, held on December 17th of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23rd
  • Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time”) was another historical festival that was celebrated around the same time by Nordic Pagans and Germanic peoples.  During this festival people burned a large Yule log that burned for days and possibly attributes to the more modern traditional twelve-days of Christmas.
  • Some of the Christmas icons including the trees, lights, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe date back to pre-Christian times.
  • Figures like Santa Claus and the nativity scene have since been introduced by Christians.
  • Activities such as Christmas cards and gift-giving are part of a significant event to promote a key sales period for retailers and businesses.
  • The impact of Christmas sales has now become a recognized economic theory that is studies and taught as a one of the major factors that drives modern Western Consumerism.
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