The History Of Christmas In Christianity

Not unlike other holidays, the celebration of Christmas is a combination of Christian, folk, and Pagan traditions. Feasting, celebrating, hanging wreaths, and decorating doors to ward off evil spirits are remnants of the Pagan midwinter festival. Holly was used in various pagan customs and associated with the Sun God. While Christmas is celebrated worldwide, it is not observed on the same day or in the same manner.

The Christmas Season in Europe

In Europe, where many countries began as Catholic countries, the preparation for the Christmas season starts with Advent, a period containing four Sundays before Christmas. On the Feast of St. Nicholas, sometimes called “Old St. Nick” and Santa Claus, that falls on December 6, Christmas is celebrated in Roman Catholic countries. Relatives and friends often give gifts on this day. They may also be handed out later, on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, the occasion of the visit of the Three Wise Men, who brought gifts 12 days after the birth of the Baby Jesus. 

By the year 529 A.D., December 25 became a holiday. Nearly 40 years later, December 25 became a civil holiday. Only 38 years later (567 A.D.), the 12 days from Christmas Day to the Feast of the Epiphany when the Magi brought gifts became public holidays. In Europe, where the Catholic faith predominated for centuries, the Christmas season lasts a month. But, Christmas is not just a Christian festival. Celebrations around the time of Christmas have their roots in Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday, the festivals of the ancient Greeks, and the European beliefs of the Druids and folk customs of Europe.

Christmas Today

Today in Europe, the season’s main event is Christmas Eve, celebrated with Midnight Mass and a grand meal. Other countries, such as America, place their focus on gift-giving on Christmas Day. Since the “Twelve Days of Christmas” stretch from December 25 until January 6, the feast of the Epiphany when the Three Kings delivered their gifts, presents are sometimes distributed among families at this time. In Spain and several Latin American countries, Christmas gifts are exchanged on this feast day of the Epiphany. Usually, on the eve of the feast, European and Latin children have written letters to the Maji requesting gifts.

Published by glenndukeraustralia

Glenn Duker is a lawyer and man of faith living in Australia.

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