The Origins Of Christmas – Truth #christmas

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The Origins Of Christmas – Truth #christmas
Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus.
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AN ANCIENT HOLIDAY
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world.
Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus,
early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter.
Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter
was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January.
In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire.
The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days i.e the 12 days of Christmas.
The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe.
At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter.
For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat.
In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday.

SATURNALIA
In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north,
Saturnalia a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture was celebrated.
Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month,
Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down.
For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city.
Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.

CHRISTIANITY
In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated.
In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday.
Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth.
Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring
(why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius 1st chose December 25th.
It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.
First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century.
By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.
Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th,
which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.
This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals,
church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.
By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion.
At Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras.
Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects.
The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink.
If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief.
Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

REINVENTING CHRISTMAS
It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas.
Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.
In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent.,
a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house.
The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol.
The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a
powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed.
People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated.
In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs,
including decorating trees, sending holiday cards, and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries,
Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

Merry Christmas 🙂

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