Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
0Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Untitled

Untitled

Ratings: (0)|Views: 0 |Likes:
Published by revmaj

More info:

Published by: revmaj on Jun 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as TXT, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

06/28/2012

pdf

text

original

 
AHISTORYOFCHRISTMASFromtimetotimeIgetaskedquestionsaboutChristmas:HowdidwecometocelebrateitonDecember25?WheredidSantaClauscomefrom?Whydoweputuptrees?Whataboutallthedecorationsandsymbols?Afterfieldingenoughofthesequestionsovertheyears,Ifinallydecidedtoinvestigateformyself.MuchofwhatIdiscoveredIhadalreadyknownorsuspected,butIfoundagreatdealthatsurprisedme.IthoughtitmightbehelpfulthismorningtosharesomeofwhatIfound.TheoriginofSantaClausgoesallthewaybacktothe4thcenturyA.D.,toabishopbythenameofNicholas,whobecamelegendaryforhisgenerosity.NicholaswasthebishopofMyraintheprovinceofLycia,inwhathasbecomemodern-dayTurkey.Hewouldgooutanighttakingpresentstotheneedy.Legendhasitthathewasaboybishop,oratleastwasveryyoungwhenheattainedtheoffice,andintheMiddleAgeshebecamethepatronsaintofschoolboys.HediedonDecember6,andwassopopularthatafeastdaywasdeclaredonthatday,withacelebrationthatquicklyspreadfromhissmalltowntootherareas.InGermany,apersonwouldbeelectedeachtorepresenthim,atfirstachild,andlateranadult.HewasknowntherebythenameofPelzNichol,andparentswouldcometogivehimareportontheirchildren’sbehavior.Ifthechildrenhadbeengood,theywouldreceivepresents,butiftheyhadbeenbad,theywouldreceiveabundleofswitchesortwigs.DutchsettlersbroughtthetraditiontoNewYork,withtheirownDutchwordforthisperson,“sinterklaas.”TheEnglishchildrenhadtroublepronouncingtheword,anditwouldcomeoutas“SantaClaus,”andofcourseweknowthisasthenamethatstuck.Forcenturies,Europeanshaddescribedhimasatallthinman.WashingtonIrvingdescribedhimasatypicalDutchsettler:broad-brimmedhat,hugebreeches,andlong-stemmedpipe.Herodeoverthetreetopsinawagon,tookpresentsoutofhispockets,anddroppedtheminchimneys.In1822,ClementC.Moorewrote“AVisitfromSt.Nicholas”forhischildren,andwaspersuadedtopublishitthenextyear.Ithascomedowntousnowbythemorefamiliartitle,“TwastheNightBeforeChristmas.”Andforthewell-meaningsoulswholaunchattacksatSantaClausasanti-Christian(orworse),itisabitironicthatthepoemwaswrittenbyaminister.Theimageheleftuswithisonewearemorefamiliarwith:roundandjolly,twinklingeyes,cherrynose,whitebeard,pipe,sleighandreindeer.TheonlythingleftofthisSantafromtheoriginalPelzNicholisthefurhewearsfromheadtofoot.AndtheredandwhiteofhisoutfitprobablygoesallthewaybacktotheoriginalSt.Nicholas,whoserobesasabishopatthetimewouldhavebeenredandwhite.In1837,RobertW.Weirpaintedawell-knownportraitofSantaassomeonefriendlyandtubby,withahood,kneeboots,andabagoftoys.In1866,ThomasNastinHarper’sWeeklyfilledouttherestofthepicturewithSanta’sworkshop,thetoys,thesleigh,andarecordofthosewhohadbeengoodorbad.Forcenturies,theSaintNicholascelebrationwasheldonDecember6andwascompletelyseparatefromtheChristmasDaycelebration.AfterLutherandtheReformation,St.NickwasreplacedbytheChristchild—inGerman,“christkindl”or“christkindli.”ThiseventuallydevelopedintothefigureofKrisKringle,whowassometimesaccompaniedbyPelzNichol,thehairyimp,andhecameatChristmastimeinstead.ThecelebrationofthebirthofChrist,orChristmas,onDecember25beganatRome,andwasseparatefromtheSt.Nicholasfestivalsentirely.WhenHenryVIIIfoundedtheChurchofEngland,theSt.NicholasfestivalswerebannedinEngland,astherewasadecisivebreakfrompracticesassociatedwithCatholicism,amongthemthevenerationofsaints.ThenwhenQueenVictoriamarriedAlbert,aGermanprince,theywereresumed,probablybecauseoftheemphasisplacedontheSt.NicholasfestivalinGermany.ButinEnglandtheSt.NicholasfigurereappearedasFatherChristmas,withalongtailedcoatandasquarebeaverhat—andlikeKrisKringle,healsocameatChristmastime.ThechoiceofDecember25cametousthroughEnglishinfluence,becausetheDutchstillobserveDecember6,astoalltheNetherlands,Belgium,partsofGermany,andSwitzerland.Ineach
 
ofthesecountries,December25isstillobserved,butitisapurelyreligiousholidaywhichremainsseparatefromtheSt.Nicholasdayfestivities.ThedateforcelebratingthebirthofChristgoesallthewayback,liketheSt.Nicholastradition,tothe4thcenturyA.D.(althoughthereisnotrueconnection).Intheyear354,PopeLiberiusofRomesetthedate,probablyasadeliberatecountertotheRomanSaturnalia,orfeastofSaturn,celebratingthebirthofthesun.Inaninterestingparallel,wealsoemphasize,asdidtheRomanfeast,thesymboloflight,whichrepresentsJesus,theLightoftheworld,andwecelebratethebirthofthe“Son.”AndIwouldliketoaddjustanoteconcerningtheuseoftheword“Xmas”asashortenedformofthewordChristmas.Ihaveheardmorethanonediatribeagainstthepracticeasjustonemorewayinwhichpeopleare“takingChristoutofChristmas.”Actually,the“X”usedinthiswaywasanoldtraditionalwayofreferringtoChrist.ThewordforChristintheGreekalphabetbeginswithaletterwhichlooksmuchlikeourletterx,andwascommonlyusedinplaceofthewordasasymbolwhichstoodforChrist.Thesymbolswithwhichwehavebecomefamiliarinconnectionwiththeseasoncomefromavarietyoftraditions.HangingstockingsbythechimneygoesallthewaybacktotheSt.Nicholaslegend,whichsaysthatNicholaswentoutoneeveningandthrewabagofgoldintothewindowofapoorfamily’shome,anditlandedinastocking.ThetraditionbecamepopularinEngland,wherechildrenwouldhangthembythefireplaceandFatherChristmaswouldcomeandfillthem.Theoriginsofhangingmistletoearealittleuncertain.WedoknowthattheearlyDruidsusedmistletoeinsomeformassociatedwithmagic,butitisunlikelythatthetraditionarosefromthem.AstrongerpossibilityisthatitdevelopedfromFrenchtraditionswhichheldthatmistletoebroughtgoodluck.Also,manytraditionsholdtotheideaofa“kissforluck.”ThetraditionoftheyulelogcamefromScandinavia,wherecareistakentobesureitkeepsburning.InFrance,itmustburnuntilNewYear’sDay.ThetraditionofputtingupatreealsocamefromScandinavia,wheretreeshadbeenworshippedinancienttimes.LegendsaysthatwhenSt.BonifacecametoScandinavia,hefoundthelargest“bloodoak”(oakswerethemostcommonobjectsofworship)andcutitdown.Thelegendsaysthatwhenthetreefell,afirtreesprangupinitsplace.BonifacecalledthefirtreeanappropriatesymbolforChrist,the“ever-livingone.”TheideaofdecoratingthetreearoseinGermany,atfirstonlywithlights.MartinLutherwasthefirst,hangingastarasasymbolforthestaroverBethlehem,andthesmallerlightstorepresenttheotherstarsinthesky.ThetraditionofhollyandivycomesfromtheoldRomancustomofexchangingevergreenbranchesonNewYear’sDayasasignofgoodluck.ThemangerscenewasfirstcreatedbySt.FrancisofAssisi.St.FrancisalsotraditionallywastheoneresponsibleforbringingthesingingofChristmascarolstothecommonpeople,astheyhadtraditionallybeensungonlybychurchofficials.TheringingofbellscomestousfromNorway,wherethebellswouldbeginringingintheholidaybeginningat4p.m.onChristmasEve.NorwayalsogivesusthetraditionofSantaClauscomingdownthechimney.Thegivingofgiftswasaveryearlytradition,fromboththeSt.NicholasdaycelebrationandChristmas:onSt.NicholasdayinhonorofNicholas’generosity,andonChristmasinremembranceofthewisemenwhocamebearinggifts.ChristmascardswerefirstsentinLondonin1843,andbecameatraditionwhichspreadrapidly,becomingacommonpracticeinthiscountryby1875.Ofallthetraditionsandsymbolsoftheseason,thereappearstobeonlyonewhichisuniversalwhereveryoumaygo:thestar,whichrepresentsboththebrightstaroverBethlehemandChrist,theLightoftheworld.Inthefinalanalysis,bothChristmasandSantaClausarethoroughlyChristianattheirroots,andbeganastwoseparatecelebrations.St.NicholasDaybecamepaganized,untilthereformerstriedtoreclaimitbymovingthedateofitscelebrationtoDecember25.ChristmasdidNOThavepaganorigins,assomehavetriedtoclaim,butaroseseparatelyandwasdeliberatelyplacedonthesamedaybypapaldecree,probablyasadeliberatechallengetotheSaturnaliacelebration.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->