Did you know that 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas each year? The holiday is also celebrated across 160 other countries around the globe. It’s no doubt the most popular holiday in the world.
But do you know the history of Christmas and how historical Christmas traditions came to be? It might be widely celebrated but many people don’t know how the holiday began.
So, how did Christmas start? The following brief guide will explain how the popular holiday came into existence and how it’s celebrated. Read on to learn about the true meaning of Christmas.
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The History of Christmas
Historians speculate that the first Christmas was first celebrated in the Roman Empire sometime around the fourth century CE. The first record of Christmas is a calendar from 354 CE.
That same calendar states that another holiday was also celebrated by a pagan cult on December 25. It marked the birth of Sol Invictus which was a new sun deity worshipped by the cult.
Both holidays happened during the Saturnalia festival that was celebrated from December 17th until December 24th. The Roman festival celebrated the god Saturn and led to many common Christmas traditions later on.
Significance of December 25th
December 25th isn’t confirmed as the birth date of Jesus. So, when was Jesus born? Scholars still don’t know and there are many differing opinions on why the 25th was chosen.
Hippolytus might have been the first to propose the date in the second century. The New Testament doesn’t say when the birth took place but implies that it actually happened in the spring or summer.
The date was most likely based on the previously mentioned birth date of Sol Invictus that occurs on the Winter Solstice. This is when the sun overcomes darkness and the days start getting longer.
Popular Christmas Tradition Origins
Trees decorated for Christmas date back to the Middle Ages in Germany. Later, German and other European settlers brought the tradition to America in the early 19th century. Americans buy over 25 million real trees annually.
Advent calendars were also started in Germany back in 1903 by Gerhard Land. It was a way for children to count down to Christmas by opening one door each day that revealed Christmas bible verses or small gifts.
The story of Santa Clause dates back to the 3rd century. The figure is based on a monk named Saint Nicholas that became the patron saint of children. The modern American version of Santa became popular in the 1840s.
Edward Hibberd Johnson was the first person to string Christmas lights around a tree. The idea came to him in New York in 1882. Today, around 150 million sets of Christmas lights are sold each year in America.
How Will You Celebrate?
Now you know the real history of Christmas. Many original traditions have found their way into modern culture. Although, there’s more than one way to celebrate and families around the world have their own unique traditions.
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