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Bucher The Arguments Put Forth By Those Who Oppose Christmas (3) The date of Christmas (December 25), and its many customs all come from pagan sources. Therefore Christmas is pagan. It is when the "Christmas is pagan" literature examines the origin of the dating of Christmas on Dec. 25, that the anti-Christmas advocates become convinced that Christmas is wholly pagan. This is their strongest argument. The argument goes like this: Since no one knows when Jesus was born, where did the Church get the idea of celebrating it on Dec. 25? From the pagans who had several festivals the time of the winter solstice which honored pagan gods. Where did the pagans at the time of the Roman empire get the idea? It came from the paganism of ancient Babylon, a paganism begun by Nimrod and his wife. One example of this argument is "Are Christianity and Christmas Compatible?" by Adam Wiemers: Why is Christmas celebrated on Dec. 25th? The answer is rather surprising. Just a little research reveals that Christmas was actually adapted from a Roman celebration called Saturnalia. The Encyclopedia Romana* explains that "at the time of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian calendar), Saturnus, the god of seed and sowing, was honored with a festival." The encyclopedia goes on to state that "the Saturnalia did continue to be celebrated as Brumalia (from "bruma," winter solstice) down to the Christian era, when, by the middle of the fourth century AD, its rituals had become absorbed in the celebration of Christmas." Isn't that alarming? The very ways that Christmas is celebrated are directly borrowed from a festival to a god of the Romans! This is only partially true. It is certainly well known that the Bible does not tell us the exact date of Christ's birth. As we saw in the previous section, Christians have been trying to pinpoint that date since the early centuries of the Church. Nevertheless, no one can say for certain which date is accurate. The Romans, like many other cultures at the time of the winter solstice, had various festivals. Saturnalia, was a festival that honored Saturn, the god of agriculture, from Dec. 17-24. It was the most popular festival of the year and did involve merrymaking, gift-giving, relaxed morality, and temporary freedom for slaves, who were allowed to do and speak whatever they wanted. But not unlike many of our Christmas feasts today, by the early Fourth Century, the religious aspect of Saturnalia had faded, and the secular merrymaking had come to the fore. It is not likely, however, that Christians chose Dec. 25 to celebrate Christ's birth on the basis of Saturnalia. The earliest extant record of Christ's birth being observed on December 25 is the Chronography in 354 A.D. This document was based upon a calendar that dated it to about 336 (Herman Wegman, Christian Worship in East and West, New York: Pueblo Publishing, 1985, 103).The Chronography was a document of the Church of Rome that listed the various martyrs' feasts for the year. By the time that Chrysostom was Bishop of Constantinople (398-404), Christ's birth was being observed on Dec. 25 throughout Christendom, though the Church in Armenia observed it on January 6. But how did it happen that the early Christians began observing Christmas on December 25? Why this date? There are two theories about why December 25 was chosen.
(1) The first theory holds that after careful research, Julius (337-352), Bishop of Rome, determined that Christ had been born on December 25; or at least he determined that December 25 was the best authenticated date in the Tradition. John Chrystostom states this in one of his writings (John Chrysostom, Homil. Diem Natal., 2; PL, 49, 552ff.). Chrysostom claims that Julius, after he had been requested by Cyril of Jerusalem, had the official records of the Roman census examined and determined that December 25 was the correct date. As Weiser points out, however, there is no evidence to back this up; in fact, "it was expressly stated in Rome that the actual date of the Saviour's birth was unknown and that different traditions prevailed in different parts of the world" (F. Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1958, 61.). (2) The second theory states that the Church of Rome deliberately chose December 25 as the date of Christ's birth to turn people away from a pagan feast that was observed at the same time. Since the time of the Roman emperor Elagabulus (218-222), the god Sol Invictus (he Unconquered Sun god), had been one of the chief deities worshiped by the Romans. When emperor Aurelian (270-275) came to power, he sought to restore the worship of the Sun god to prominence and make him the chief deity. In the last years of his reign, Sol was hailed as "The Lord of the Roman Empire." Sol, along, with Jupiter, appeared on the coins Aurelian had minted. In 274, the emperor built a magnificent temple to Sun god, and established a new college of senators which he named "the priests of the Sun god." Finally, December 25 was observed as "the birthday of the Sun god" (natalis solis invicti). Because the Sun god was identifed with Mithra, a popular Persian god that also was viewed as the Sun god, pagan celebrations occurred throughout the empire on Dec. 25 (see Clement A. Miles, Christmas, New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1912, 23). The Church at Rome seems to have chosen this date to counteract this pagan feast of the sun god and turn people instead to the "Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78). Or put another way, Julius chose December 25 so that the Son of God rather than the Sun god would be worshiped. Though there no direct evidence that proves that the Church of Rome deliberately chose December 25 so that Christ's birth would replace "the birthday of the sun," we do have sermons from fathers of the church who soon after this used this line of reasoning. For example, Augustine (354-430) in his sermon 202 and Leo the Great (440-461 -- PL 54 Sources chrtiennes 22) gives this line of reasoning. Therefore, the second theory seems to be the probable one. December 25 was chosen not because it had somehow been proven from extra-biblical sources that Christ was definitely born on December 25. Rather the date was chosen to counteract a very popular pagan holiday that already had been occurring on this date. Given what we learned about emperor Constantine in the previous section, it is likely that his embracing of Christianity and example influenced the Church of Rome in doing what they did. But there is no evidence of Constantine's direct involvement. Now does the fact that the Church of Rome chose the same date to celebrate Christ's birth as a popular pagan festival mean that "Christmas is based on a pagan festival" or that "Christmas is pagan"? I don't think so! What kind of reasoning is that? It simply means that they chose the same day - why, we don't exactly know. Perhaps they chose it to keep Christians from taking part in the pagan festivities, or perhaps to entice pagans to join the Christian faith. If a group of Christians chose to celebrate Christ's birth on Halloween or on some well known Satanic day, would it be fair or right to accuse them of basing Christ's birth on paganism, so that from then on Christmas would be forever pagan? Of course not! In this case the Christians might be doing this to give themselves something Christian to celebrate on the day. Is that wrong? Placing a Christian feast on a well known non-Christian day does not make the Christian feast nonChristian. They are merely sharing the day. We worship our God on Sunday, which in Roman times, was the day dedicated to the Sun-god. Does that make our worship on Sunday pagan? Perhaps we should worship on Saturday. But that day in Roman times was named in honor of the god Saturn. Would that make our festivals on Saturday pagan? Of course not. But this is the kind of faulty logic used by the "Christmas is pagan" crowd. It gets worse. The "Christmas is pagan" argument typically asks a further question: Where did the Romans get their pagan festivals at the time of the winter solstice? Answer: From the paganism of ancient Babylon,
which was initiated by Nimrod and his wife, Semiramus. A classic example of this argument is found in a tract by the World Wide Church of God entitled, "The Plain Truth About Christmas," here quoted at some length. But if we got Christmas from the Roman Catholics, and they got it from paganism, where did the pagans get it? Where, when, and what as its real origin? It is a chief custom of the corrupt system denounced all through Bible prophecies and teachings under the name of Babylon. And it started and originated in the original Babylon of ancient Nimrod! Yes, it stems from roots whose beginning was shortly this side of the Flood! Nimrod, grandson of Ham, son of Noah, was the real founder of the Babylonish system that has gripped the world ever since . . . . Nimrod built the tower of Babel, the original Babylon, ancient Nineveh, and many other cities. He organized this world's first kingdom. The name Nimrod, in Hebrew, is derived from "Marad," meaning "he rebelled." . . . Nimrod was so evil, it is said he married his own mother, whose name was Semiramis. After Nimrod's untimely death, his so-called mother-wife, Semiramis, propagated the evil doctrine of the survival of Nimrod as a spirit being. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolized the springing forth unto new life the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. December 25th was the birthday of Nimrod. This is the real origin of the Christmas tree. Through her scheming and designing, Semiramis became the Babylonian "Queen of Heaven," and Nimrod, under various names, became the "divine son of heaven." Through the generations, in this idolatrous worship, Nimrod also became the false Messiah, son of Baal the Sun-god. In this false Babylonish system, the "Mother and Child" (Semiramis and Nimrod reborn) became chief objects of worship. This worship of "Mother and Child" spread over the world. The names varied in different countries and languages. In Egypt it was Isis and Osiris. In Asia, Cybele and Deoius. . . . Thus, during the fourth and fifth centuries, when the pagans of the Roman world were "accepting" the new popular "Christianity" by the hundreds of thousands, carrying their old pagan customs and beliefs along with them, merely cloaking them with Christian-sounding names . . . . The real origin of Christmas goes back to ancient Babylon. It is bound up in the organized apostasy which has gripped a deceived world these many centuries! In Egypt, it was always believed that the son of Isis (Egyptian name for "Queen of Heaven") was born December 25th. Paganism celebrated this famous birthday over most of the known world for centuries before the birth of Christ. December 25th is not the birthday of Jesus the true Christ! So goes the argument, which is repeated by many different anti-Christmas authors. Where in the world did such an argument come from? This was the thesis of Alexander Hislop, who in the Nineteenth Century wrote a book entitled, "The Two Babylons: Or the Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife." It was Hislop's thesis that the Roman Catholic Church was a direct descendent of the paganism of Nimrod and ancient Babylon. One of his arguments was that some of the chief holy days of the Roman Catholic Church, such as Christmas, prove this to be so. The stamp of Hislop's thesis is found all over most of the anti-Christmas literature that I've seen. But is his argument sound? Hardly. I have no doubt that Hislop consulted a vast amount of sources in writing his book. This is obvious in reading it. But some of its key arguments are flawed. He makes many philological leaps of faith to prove his points. For example, his entire argument rests on making the Babylonian "Ninus" the same person as the Biblical "Nimrod." (Nimrod is mentioned in only three places in the Scriptures, Gen. 10:8-12, 1 Chr. 1:10, and Micah 5:6). Only then can he claim that the wife of Nimrod was Semiramis, and that both were worshiped as divine mother and son, etc. Hislop himself recognizes how important this is, in this very interesting sentence: Now, assuming that Ninus is Nimrod, the way in which that assumption explains what is otherwise inexplicable in the statements of ancient history greatly confirms the truth of the assumption itself (The Two Babylons, 25). Got that? The point is that this turns out to be a big assumption. In other ancient literature, the father of Ninus was Bel, and it is said that he built the city of Nineveh. The Bible on the other hand says that Nimrod
built Nineveh, and that Cush was his father. The way in which Hislop attempts to reconcile this contradiction is a truly remarkable example of literary gymnastics that is hardly convincing. He argues that Bel is the same as Hermes/Mercury, and the same as Janus/Chaos, which is the same as Cush. Right. (See for yourself by reading the "The Two Babylons," 25-29). It is possible that Nimrod, the grandson of Cush, led people into pagan worship. But the argument that all paganism, and especially that all pagan festivals at the time of the winter solstice, can be traced back to Nimrod, just doesn't hold. To say it is a scholarly stretch is an understatement. Yet most of the "Christmas is pagan" literature bases its arguments on Hislop's thesis. Isn't it more likely, that many primitive cultures and religions would choose to celebrate the birth of their gods at a time when the sun began to grow stronger, and thus be reborn? Isn't it much more likely that this is the reason that so many pagan religions have festivals at the time of the winter solstice? I'll let you decide which thesis is stronger. The last part of the third anti-Christmas argument to be considered is that the origin of the customs were pagan and therefore Christmas is pagan. It is well known that most of the customs of Christmas were also observed in pagan culture and religion. Lights and mistletoe, trees and gift-giving, merry-making and revelry, yule logs and holly, and yes, Santa Claus, all found use or expression in ancient pagan religion and culture (The reader is encouraged to read my articles on "The Origin of the Christmas Tree," "The Origin of Santa Claus and the Christan Response," and the "Christian Customs FAQ."). But is similarity the same as dependence or derivation? In other words, just because we use similar customs does it mean in every case that these are directly derived from pagan religions? Cultures all over the world have used lights and trees, gift-giving and revelry for their celebrations. Why is it assumed that because Christians use these things at Christmas that they have taken them directly from paganism? If it is discovered that pagans drank milk or hugged their families at their pagan festivals, does that mean that if Christians do so, they are engaging in paganism? But this is the kind of logic used by the anti-Christmas crowd. Of course some Christmas customs are certainly taken from paganism. The use of the word yule and the various customs associated with it, for example, come from pagan culture. The word probably came the Anglo-Saxon geol, which meant "feast." It is thought that among the Anglo-Saxons, the time of the winter solstice was a time of a great feast. But so what? Is everything that was once used by paganism centuries ago, now off limits when Christians apply them to Christmas or other Christian festivals? Are we prepared to strictly apply that to everything we do? Why can't we use some of the same words, symbols or customs, which long ago ceased to be used in the worship of false gods? We need to remember that before pagans coopted them centuries ago, God had given many of the things used in custom, as good gifts to be enjoyed by his people. Why then can Christians not redeem these good gifts for their use as they celebrate Christmas? In my opinion, it is sufficient to point out to people the origin of these customs, and distinguish these "winter customs" from the true Christmas celebration, which has to do with the birth of God's Son, Jesus Christ. In my perfect world, people would call all of those customs "winter customs" or "holiday customs" rather than "Christmas customs." "Christmas" would only be used to refer to the Christian holy day that remembers Christ's birth. But I don't see that happening any time soon. We cannot and should not stop the peoples of the world from celebrating at the time of the winter solstice. There is obviously something in us that makes us want and need to celebrate at this time of the year. Therefore we should not be surprised that at this time of the year even non-Christians are celebrating "Christmas," that is, using many of the customs now called Christmas customs. I have not written this essay to condemn the "Christmas is pagan" crowd. And I certainly haven't written it to convince them that they must celebrate Christmas. Christians have never been commanded to celebrate
Christ's birth annually. Therefore they are free to do so or not do so. I have written this essay, however, to those dear Christians who have been falsely taught that celebrating Christmas is celebrating paganism, and they are wracked with guilt because of it. My message to them is: you are doing nothing wrong to celebrate the birth of God's Son; in fact, praising and thanking God for the gift of His Son is beautiful worship in the sight of God. There is also nothing wrong with using some of the winter customs, provided you keep them in perspective and don't allow them to bury the celebration of Christ's birth. May all who read this, have a truly joyous Christmas celebration.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search "Christmas Day" redirects here. For other uses, see Christmas (disambiguation) and Christmas Day (disambiguation).
Christmas decorations on display. Christ's Mass Nativity Also called Noel Feast of the Nativity Christians Observed by Many non-Christians Type Christian, cultural Significance Traditional birthday of Jesus December 25 (alternatively January 6, Date 7 or 19) (see below) Gift giving, church services, family Observances and other social gatherings, symbolic decorating Annunciation, Advent, Epiphany, Related to Baptism of the Lord Christmas or Christmas Day is a holiday generally observed on December 25 (with alternative days of January 6, 7 and 19) to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the
 Although nominally a Christian holiday. and in Christianity marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide. lights. are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving. and Santa Claus. church celebrations. and many of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins. which lasts twelve days. Christmas is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians worldwide. Narratives of his birth are included in two of the Canonical gospels in the New Testament of the Bible. or one of various ancient winter festivals.central figure of Christianity. the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. garlands. and the display of various decorations. an exchange of Christmas cards. The exact birthday of Jesus is not known. among other names. music. several figures. and historians place his year of birth some time between 7 BC and 2 BC. Christmas is central to the Christmas and holiday season. known as Saint Nicholas. the date of the Roman winter solstice. nativity scenes. . and holly. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after Christians believe Jesus to have been conceived. In addition. Father Christmas. mistletoe. a special meal. including Christmas trees. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians.
It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse.Contents [hide] • • • • • • • 1 Etymology 2 Celebration o 2.6 Cards o 2.8. Hong .1 Further reading 8 External links • Etymology The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass".8 Gift giving 2.5 Food o 2.3 Reformation into the 19th century 4 Controversy and criticism 5 Economics 6 See also 7 References and notes o 7. In some nonChristian countries.1 Date of celebration 2. "Cristes" is from Greek Χριστός Christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa (the holy mass).2 Middle Ages o 3.1. including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian.2 Christian feast 3.4 Music and carols o 18.104.22.168 Legendary gift-bringing figures 3 History o 3.2.1 Dies Natalis Solis Invicti 3.3 Decorations o 2.7 Stamps o 2.1 Pre-Christian background 3.1 Using the Julian calendar o 2. Celebration Further information: Christmas worldwide Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world.2 Commemorating Jesus’ birth o 2.2 Winter festivals o 3.2.g.1 Feast established 3. a phrase first recorded in 1038. periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.
Iran. Saint Nicholas Day. Among countries with a strong Christian tradition. In Catholic countries. Algeria. Date of celebration For centuries. decorations and Christmas trees. a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. Saudi Arabia. is the period of highest annual church attendance. 386 which established the date of Christmas as December 25 on the Julian calendar since the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26) had been announced during the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist (Luke 1:10-13) as dated from the duties . Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. 1667. Christian writers accepted that Christmas was the actual date on which Jesus was born. John Chrysostom preached a sermon in Antioch c.Kong). Others practice gift giving on December 6. along with Easter. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form. Christmas. reflecting differing cultural and national traditions. The Nativity by Charles-François Poerson. and January 6. the people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas. Turkey and North Korea. such as gift-giving. in others. participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Thailand. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Nepal. For Christians. Notable countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include People's Republic of China. Japan. where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians. secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Countries such as Japan and Korea. have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas. In other countries. Epiphany. Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. (excepting Hong Kong and Macao).
supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception. Antioch. rather. While they were aware that pagans called this day the 'birthday' of Sol Invictus. other Orthodox Christians. Macedonia. such as the churches of Greece. Ukraine.Zacharias performed on the Day of Atonement during the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar Ethanim or Tishri (Lev. Armenian churches customarily use the Gregorian calendar. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the nativity in combination with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. which are generally similar to the Julian calendar. a church calendar was created and other holidays were also placed on solar dates: "It is cosmic symbolism. which the Romans called bruma and celebrated on December 25. today. The December 25 date may have been selected by the church in Rome in the early 4th century. and the summer solstice as that of John the Baptist. 16:29. Hijmans. this did not concern them and it did not play any role in their choice of date for Christmas. Louis Duchesne suggested that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after Annunciation. These Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on the same day as Western Christianity." according to modern scholar S. However. Commemorating Jesus’ birth . celebrating the coming of God into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary meaning of Christmas. Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark feasts using the older Julian calendar. However. and Christmas Eve on January 18 (according to the Gregorian calendar). as the birthday of Christ.. December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the internationally-used Gregorian calendar. Alexandria. including those of Russia. Oriental Orthodox churches also use their own calendars. Albania. At this time. Georgia. December 25. In 1743. but some use the Julian calendar and thus celebrate Christmas Day on January 19. German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a "paganization" that debased the true church. whether or not the birth date of Jesus is on December 25 is not considered to be an important issue in mainstream Christian denominations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the winter solstice. 1 Kings 8:2) which falls in September-October. Montenegro. Romania.which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the winter solstice.. among others. In the early 18th century. Finland and the Orthodox Church in America. which corresponds exactly to the Gregorian calendar. scholars began proposing alternative explanations. Using the Julian calendar Eastern Orthodox national churches. the traditional date of the conception of Jesus. In 1889.E. began using the Revised Julian calendar in the early 20th century.
 The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus' birth. in their homes. Nativity of Jesus. Anbetung der Hirten (Adoration of the Shepherds) (c. Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel. the Eastern Orthodox Church practices . namely Matthew 1:18." Early iconographic representations of the nativity placed the animals and manger within a cave (located. Depending on one's perspective. according to tradition. Jesus was born to Mary. under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem). In some Christian denominations. in the city of Bethlehem. frankincense. and Child Jesus Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecy. commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem. children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story   These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew. According to these accounts. and the Gospel of Luke. and were the first to see the child. specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches. Prior to Christmas Day. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star. However. there are other devotions and popular traditions. because there was no room for them in the inn. Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity.Main articles: Annunciation. "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger. though neither the stable nor the animals are specifically mentioned in the Biblical accounts. believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services. the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6. or astrologers. surrounded by farm animals. using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. According to popular tradition. who bring gifts of gold. 1500–10). the birth took place in a stable. The commemoration of this visit. by Italian painter Giorgio da Castelfranco Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. assisted by her husband Joseph. The Gospel of Matthew also describes a visit by several Magi. where it states. and myrrh to the infant Jesus. known as a Nativity scene or crèche. a manger is mentioned in Luke 2:7.
Ohio is the site of this Christmas display with over 3. who are said to have followed a star. " (Leviticus 23:40) Christians incorporated such customs in their developing practices. bays.the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve. Decorating with greenery was also part of Jewish tradition : "Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees. angels. Melchior. Joseph. In the 15th century. it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be "decked with holm. its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.5 million lights. while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches. and Christmas ornament Clifton Mill in Clifton. while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent. Christmas stocking. . Decorations Main article: Christmas decoration See also: Christmas tree. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a barn or stable and include Mary. palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook. shepherds and the Three Wise Men: Balthazar. The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. Christmas lights. and arrived after his birth. and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. and Caspar. known as the Star of Bethlehem. A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter. the child Jesus. From preChristian times. and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green". ivy. The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus.
which was shed in his crucifixion. and an adaptation of pagan tree worship. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments. They were popularised by Saint Francis of Asissi from 1223. silver and gold are also popular. which does not lose its leaves in the winter. By the 1870s. . The English language phrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain. and in particular the evergreen tree. The Christmas tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice. which included the use of evergreen boughs. In countries where a representation of the Nativity Scene is very popular. first via Queen Charlotte. and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. dependent on local tradition and available resources. people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree. The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s. the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom. The traditional colors of Christmas are green and red. inspired by paper chains made by children. quickly spreading across Europe. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century. New York City Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. while green symbolizes eternal life. people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. White.A Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world. wife of George III.  From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus. Within some families.
a native plant from Mexico. candy canes. along with garlands and evergreen foliage. wreaths. In some countries. It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world. more subdued. music played from speakers. the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants. candles. make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare Christians for the Advent season. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas display. stockings. Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets. and Christmas trees placed in prominent places. Other popular holiday plants include holly. and angels. Along with a Christmas tree. Christmas displays are seen in the image to the right of Saint Anselm College.Saint Anselm College decorates with traditional candles in each window and a large Christmas wreath Since the 19th century. Music and carols Main article: Christmas music . the evening of January 5. Both of these antiquated. The concentric assortment of leaves. Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night. mistletoe. Other traditional decorations include bells. and Christmas cactus. usually from an evergreen. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. snowmen. the poinsettia. red amaryllis. has been associated with Christmas. and other Christmas figures.
and "The Holly and the Ivy" can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages. under the influence of Francis of Asissi. introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol. Latin hymns such as Veni redemptor gentium. probably sung by groups of wassailers. written by Ambrose. and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung.Christmas carolers in New Jersey. In the 9th and 10th centuries. in France. The first specifically Christmas hymns that we know of appear in 4th century Rome. Italy. developing under Bernard of Clairvaux into a sequence of rhymed stanzas. although the words may have originated in the 13th century. Archbishop of Milan. who went from house to house. Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay. It was only later that carols began to be sung in church. a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed. Traditionally. a Shropshire chaplain. 413) is still sung in some churches today. Corde natus ex Parentis (Of the Father's love begotten) by the Spanish poet Prudentius (d. Some carols like "Personent hodie". The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal folk songs sung during celebrations such as "harvest tide" as well as Christmas. and particularly. Victor began to derive music from popular songs. By the 13th century. . Adeste Fidelis (O Come all ye faithful) appears in its current form in the mid-18th century. "Good King Wenceslas". the Christmas "Sequence" or "Prose" was introduced in North European monasteries. In the 12th century the Parisian monk Adam of St. carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns. were austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism. Germany. who lists twenty-five "caroles of Cristemas".
In addition to setting many psalms to melodies. like Martin Luther. In the 19th and 20th century. Oberndorf. and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the festival. An increasing number of seasonal holidays songs were commercially produced in the 20th century. William B. Sandys' Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) contained the first appearance in print of many now-classic English carols. there was a revival of interest in early music. "Jingle Bells" was copyrighted in 1857. African American spirituals and songs about Christmas. although some Reformers. In addition. he wrote texts for at least three Christmas carols. from groups singing folk music. Felix Mendelssohn wrote a melody adapted to fit Wesley's words. which were influential in the Great Awakening in the United States. Nicholas Church. wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship.Child singers in Bucharest. The 18th century English reformer Charles Wesley understood the importance of music to worship. became more widely known. The best known was originally entitled "Hark! How All the Welkin Rings". including jazz and blues variations. based in their tradition of spirituals. Food Further information: Christmas dinner . In Austria in 1818 Mohr and Gruber made a major addition to the genre when they composed "Silent Night" for the St. Carols largely survived in rural communities until the revival of interest in popular songs in the 19th century. "Deck The Halls" dates from 1784. Completely secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late 18th century. later renamed "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing". and the American. 1841. to performers of early medieval and classical music. Singing of carols initially suffered a decline in popularity after the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe. such as The Revels.
mince pies and fruit cake. In Germany. Special desserts are also prepared. commercially designed and relevant to the season.  In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia. such as Sicily. sometimes bread and cider. The traditional greeting reads "wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year".  a chocolate and chestnuts beverage. The custom of sending them has become popular among a wide cross-section of people with the emergence of the modern trend towards exchanging E-cards. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter. but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served. have special meals for Christmas Eve. bûche de Noël in France. meat. gravy. much like that of the first commercial Christmas card. and elaborate tarts and cakes. France and Austria. fish often is used for the traditional main course. potatoes. oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods. panettone in Italy. goose and pork are favored. and Jamaican rum fruit cake. or Christian . and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen. produced by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843. when 12 kinds of fish are served. Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide. The content of the design might relate directly to the Christmas narrative with depictions of the Nativity of Jesus. The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan. a standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose. and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country.Christmas pudding A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday's celebration. Christmas cards are purchased in considerable quantities. In England and countries influenced by its traditions. Beef. after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season. such as Christmas pudding. Cards Main article: Christmas card Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. marzipan cake or candy. ham and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. and feature artwork. Some regions. vegetables.
prayer or Biblical verse. In 1898 a Canadian stamp was issued to mark the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate.symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem. an ancient festival which took place in late December and may have influenced Christmas customs. Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star of Bethlehem. holly and baubles. In 1939. unlike Christmas seals. Both the US Postal Service and the Royal Mail regularly issue Christmas-themed stamps each year. making the Christmas season the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. such as Christmastime activities. Stamps Main article: Christmas stamp A number of nations have issued commemorative stamps at Christmastime. and are valid for postage year-round. while others distance themselves from religion with an all-inclusive "Season's greetings". or a variety of images associated with the season. These stamps are regular postage stamps. They usually go on sale some time between early October and early December. It was later rationalized by the Church on the basis that it associated St. Austria issued two "Christmas greeting stamps" featuring a rose and the signs of the zodiac. . the Southern Cross and a child. and that gifts of gold. and are printed in considerable quantities. an angel and child. Gift giving was common in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. objects directly associated with Christmas such as candles. and a mother and child. Nicholas with Christmas. snow scenes and the wildlife of the northern winter. Postal customers will often use these stamps to mail Christmas cards. mythical figures such as Santa Claus. frankincense and myrrh were given to the infant Jesus by the Biblical Magi. The stamp features a map of the globe and bears an inscription "XMAS 1898" at the bottom. or a white dove which can represent both the Holy Spirit and Peace on Earth. There are even humorous cards and genres depicting nostalgic scenes of the past such as crinolined shoppers in idealized 19th century streetscapes. Gift giving See also: Gift economy The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration. In 1937. Some prefer cards with a poem. Other Christmas cards are more secular and can depict Christmas traditions. Christmas gift giving was banned by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages due to its suspected pagan origins. and they are popular with philatelists.
His feast on the 6th of December came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts. and the Weihnachtsmann. also known as Santa Claus. accompanied by helpers. Among these are Father Christmas. whose origins have diverse sources. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra. and the date of giving gifts changed from December the 6th to Christmas Eve. corrupted in English to Kris Kringle. dressed in red. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas. Joulupukki. Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop's attire. Père Noël. which means simply Saint Nicholas. and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe. the Christkind. and Father Frost. considered by many to be the original Santa Claus. during the 4th century. many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl. Among other saintly attributes. Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands. Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. a mythical gift bringer. A number of figures of both Christian and mythical origin have been associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Saint Basil. inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. in modern day Turkey. The most famous and pervasive of these figures in modern celebration worldwide is Santa Claus. and the giving of gifts. .Legendary gift-bringing figures Main articles: Santa Claus and Father Christmas See also: Saint Nicholas and Saint Basil Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas. Babbo Natale. he was noted for the care of Children. By the 13th century. Kris Kringle. generosity.
New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was reinvented as Saint Nicholas. a study of the "children's books. the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam. predates the Santa Claus character. form we now recognize. but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts. In Italy. and in particular in New York. By the 1880s. Nast's Santa had evolved into the robed. the Dutch name for New York City. but got lost along the way. Now. Santa Claus developed more secular attire. was created in the United States. In other versions. almost half a century after the end of the American War of Independence. In 1809. In Victorian Britain. fur clad. she brings gifts to all children. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts. or Black Peter. It has been claimed that the Saint Nicholas Society was not founded until 1835. Moreover. There has been some opposition to the narrative of the American evolution of Saint Nicholas into the modern Santa. Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus. elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. well nourished. bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas. He is first recorded in early 17th century England. Santa Claus is famous around the world for giving gifts to good children. perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. At his first American appearance in 1810. beginning in 1863. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines. a jolly. However as new artists took over. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). periodicals and journals" of New Amsterdam by Charles Jones revealed no references to Saint Nicholas or . Father Christmas. his image was remade to match that of Santa. Claus. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Nast drew a new image of "Santa Claus" annually. while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. Santa Claus was drawn in bishops' robes. however. some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city's non-English past.The modern popular image of Santa Claus. eventually adopting the Santa image. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s. Following the American Revolutionary War.
Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus/Father Christmas).Sinterklaas. Hageman. not all scholars agree with Jones's findings. Modern scholars have argued that the festival was placed on the date of the solstice because this was on this day that the Sun reversed its southward retreat and proved itself . Austria. who is the one who actually delivers them to the children's homes. St. maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York was alive and well from the early settlement of the Hudson Valley on. a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States. nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Southern Germany. the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech. Howard G. Current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys. In South Tyrol (Italy). he then gives them to the Baby Jesus. Czech Republic. However. Slovakia and Switzerland. Hungary. The German St. History Mosaic of Jesus as Christo Sole (Christ the Sun) in Mausoleum M in the pre-fourthcentury necropolis under St Peter's Basilica in Rome. Nikolaus wears a bishop's dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies. of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. considering it deceptive. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers. Pre-Christian background Dies Natalis Solis Invicti Main article: Sol Invictus Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered sun". Liechtenstein. some have come to reject this practice. which he reiterated in a booklength study in 1978.
its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas.. which was incorporated into the Christmas carol. "only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod)" celebrated their birthdays. so this implied a birth in December." Winter festivals Main article: List of winter festivals A winter festival was the most popular festival of the year in many cultures.. The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar.Christ should be born". a usage first recorded in 900. Tertullian (d. Christian feast The New Testament does not give a date for the birth of Jesus. there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas. Cyprian wrote. in Chronographai. the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas.to be "unconquered". and none that indicates that Aurelian had a hand in its institution. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. 220) does not mention Christmas as a major feast day in the Church of Roman Africa. Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia..?" Although Dies Natalis Solis Invicti has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly speculation. Around AD 200. Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox. . lights. the theologian Origen of Alexandria stated that. held in the late December to early January period. popularizing the idea that Christ was born on December 25. and charity from the Roman New Year. In 245. as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached. a reference work published in 221. and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts. Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule. the only ancient source for it is a single mention in the Chronography of 354. However. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . Clement of Alexandria wrote that a group in Egypt celebrated the nativity on 25 Pashons. and modern Sol scholar Steven Hijmans argues that there is no evidence that the celebration precedes that of Christmas: "[W]hile the winter solstice on or around the 25th of December was well established in the Roman imperial calendar. "O. how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born. However. As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize. In English. . greenery.  This corresponds to May 20. John Chrysostom also commented on the connection: "They call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered'. especially Koleda. In 303. Some early Christian writers connected the rebirth of the sun to the birth of Jesus. this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this . Christian writer Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods. since Christmas does not celebrate Christ's birth "as God" but "as man".
Martin" (which began on November 11. former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent. . the feast of St. these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5). which in the west focused on the visit of the magi. the fact that the innovation rejecting Donatist Church of North Africa celebrated Christmas suggests that the feast had been established before the living memory of those who began that Church in 311. early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6). Moreover. a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days. (1686). now known as Advent. and to Antioch in about 380. But the Medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. In Italy. Martin of Tours). Around the 12th century. an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome. Middle Ages In the Early Middle Ages. In the East. The Examination and Trial of Father Christmas. although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus. although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379.time. The forty days before Christmas became the "forty days of St. published shortly after Christmas was reinstated as a holy day in England. Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany. Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. Feast established The earliest known reference to the date of the nativity as December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381.
 Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships. singing. and other evergreens. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066. promiscuity. By the High Middle Ages. King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten.  Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy. "Misrule"— drunkenness. The annual indulgence in eating. It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl. gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. gifts were exchanged on New Year's Day. and card playing escalated in England. and there was special Christmas ale. Caroling also became popular. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. elaborate masques and pageants. such as tenant and landlord.The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. Reformation into the 19th century . holly. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd. indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form. and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve. and was originally a group of dancers who sang. and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners. the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. In 1607. dancing. King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games. In England. sporting. The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts.
but many clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. England's Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647. Nazareth and Lititz in Pennsylvania and the Wachovia Settlements in North Carolina. however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region. and efforts were made to revive the holiday. Following the Protestant Reformation. were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. dances with "plow-boys" and "maidservants". In Scotland. Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely. By the 1820s. James VI commanded its celebration in 1618. King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old style Christmas generosity. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros. The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban. George Washington attacked Hessian (German) mercenaries on Christmas during the Battle of Trenton in 1777. In 1843. when it was considered an English custom. Pennsylvania German Settlers. that helped revive the 'spirit' of Christmas and seasonal merriment. who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans. and compassion. argued against the Puritans. goodwill.Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present.  . however attendance at church was scant. 1652). Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters. The Vindication of Christmas (London. card playing. dinner. Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War. 1843. The book. In Colonial America. roast apples on the fire. Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol. Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution. These writers imagined Tudor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family. the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. pre-eminently the Moravian settlers of Bethlehem. and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions. groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes. Christmas being much more popular in Germany than in America at this time. including William Winstanly. the Presbyterian Church of Scotland also discouraged observance of Christmas." The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. began to worry that Christmas was dying out. sectarian tension had eased in Britain and writers. From Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. considering it a Catholic invention and the "trappings of popery" or the "rags of the Beast. and carol singing. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. At the same time.
by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain. with 'Bah! Humbug!' dismissive of the festive spirit. ornaments. the Christmas tree was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover. the observance of which had dwindled during the late 18th century and early 19th century. The term Scrooge became a synonym for miser. A prominent phrase from the tale. Superimposing his secular vision of the holiday. hung with lights. created a sensation when it was published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In Britain. Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture. the first commercial Christmas card was produced by Sir Henry Cole. games. A modified version of this image was published in the United States in 1850.The Queen's Christmas tree at Windsor Castle published in the Illustrated London News. 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' and 'God Rest Ye Merry. seasonal food and drink. in contrast to the community-based and church-centered observations. In 1832 a young Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree. Gentlemen'. 'I Saw Three Ships'. popularized in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. dancing. Philadelphia. such as family gatherings. with the first appearance in print of 'The First Noel'. and presents placed round it. An image of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle. and a festive generosity of spirit. The revival of the Christmas Carol began with William B. . putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America. December 1850. Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centered festival of generosity. After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert. Sandys Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833). Queen to King George III. and republished in Godey's Lady's Book. In 1843. 'Merry Christmas'. By the 1870s. was popularized following the appearance of the story. 1848.
Birmingham. In Reading. Subsequently.. In America. 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. signed into law by President Ulysses S. that he had transcribed into his journal as a format for his stories. In 1822. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow detected "a transition state about Christmas here in New England" in 1856.S. Christmas was formally declared a United States Federal holiday. and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. and he used the tract Vindication of Christmas (1652) of Old English Christmas traditions. interest in Christmas had been revived in the 1820s by several short stories by Washington Irving which appear in his The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon and "Old Christmas". Harriet Beecher Stowe includes a character who complains that the true meaning of Christmas was lost in a shopping spree. "Even our presbyterian friends who have hitherto steadfastly ignored Christmas — threw open their church doors and assembled in force to celebrate the anniversary of the Savior's birth". Pennsylvania. 'although of genuine Puritan stock'.A Norwegian Christmas. This also started the cultural conflict of the holiday's spiritualism and its commercialism that some see as corrupting the holiday. was 'preparing for a grand Christmas jubilee'. The poem helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts. Grant. hearty holiday. that had largely been abandoned. a news correspondent reported in 1864. Irving's stories depicted harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities he experienced while staying in Aston Hall. Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem A Visit From St. England. fourteen states including several from New England had adopted Christmas as a legal holiday. The First Congregational Church of Rockford. In 1870. a newspaper remarked in 1861. By 1860. though every year makes it more so". While the celebration of Christmas was not yet customary in some regions in the U. In her 1850 book "The First Christmas in New England". . "The old puritan feeling prevents it from being a cheerful. Illinois. Nicholas (popularly known by its first line: Twas the Night Before Christmas).
S. Christmas has been the subject of both controversy and criticism from a wide variety of different sources. During this brief period. In response. There were also protests in November 2009 when the city of Dundee promoted its celebrations as the Winter Night Light festival. Supreme Court ruled in Lynch vs. In 1984. Louis Prang introduced the Christmas card to Americans. avoided. Puritans (including those who fled to America) sought to remove the remaining pagan elements of Christmas. including schools. the English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirely. considering it "a popish festival with no biblical justification". Christmas tree cultivation. Such groups argue that government-funded displays of Christmas imagery and traditions violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In November 2009. Economics See also: Christmas by medium. the Federal appeals court in Philadelphia endorsed a school district's ban on the singing of Christmas carols. Donnelly that a Christmas display (which included a Nativity scene) owned and displayed by the city of Pawtucket. In the United States there has been a tendency to replace the greeting Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays. Controversy and criticism Main article: Christmas controversy Throughout the holiday's history. and Christmas Price Index . Rhode Island did not violate the First Amendment. the U.in 1875. when England was ruled by a Puritan Parliament. In the private sphere also. where some Christian and nonChristians have claimed that an affront to Christmas (dubbed a "war on Christmas" by some) is ongoing. and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior. or discouraged by a number of advertisers and retailers. initially with no specific Christmas references. The first documented Christmas controversy was Christian-led. and began during the English Interregnum. one of the most famous being the temporary promotion of the Christmas period as Winterval by Birmingham City Council in 1998. Christmas tree production. it has been alleged that any specific mention of the term "Christmas" or its religious aspects was being increasingly censored. Controversy and criticism continues in the present-day. the American Family Association and other groups have organized boycotts of individual retailers. which prohibits the establishment by Congress of a national religion. In the United Kingdom there have been some minor controversies. He has been called the "father of the American Christmas card". Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have initiated court cases to bar the display of images and other material referring to Christmas from public property.
9 billion are sent in the United States each year. Industries completely dependent on Christmas include Christmas cards.Christmas market in Metz. and almost all industries cease activity (more than any other day of the year).6 million to 1. this analysis is sometimes used to discuss possible flaws in current microeconomic theory. decorations. Christmas resulted in a $4 billion deadweight loss in the U. alone. Christmas Day is the least active day of the year for business and commerce. approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales. it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season. of which 20. France. the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November. It is estimated that in 2001. Scotland is currently planning similar legislation. In other sectors. there being a November – December buying surge of 100 percent in bookstores and 170 percent in jewelry stores. Because of complicating factors. Film studios release many high-budget movies during the holiday season. Census Bureau reveal that expenditure in department stores nationwide rose from $20. In Canada. In the UK in 2010. and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11. This loss is calculated as the difference between what the gift giver spent on the item and what the gift receiver would have paid for the item. despite increased overall spending. and supplies.8 billion in November 2004 to $31.8 million were cut in the USA in 2002. In the UK and Ireland. because of the effect of giftgiving.8 million in the two months leading up to Christmas. Figures from the U. including Christmas films. the "Christmas shopping season" starts as early as October. Sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas and shops introduce new products as people purchase gifts. commercial and institutional businesses are closed. In most Western nations.S. One economist's analysis calculates that.S. whether laws require such or not. an increase of 54 percent. and live Christmas Trees. the pre-Christmas increase in spending was even greater. Christmas is a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory. In England and Wales. the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 prevents all large shops from trading on Christmas Day. In the U.. up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas.S. around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on. Other deadweight losses include the effects of Christmas on the .9 billion in December 2004. In the same year employment in American retail stores rose from 1. fantasy movies or high-tone dramas with high production values. of which 1. almost all retail. merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween (October 31). In the United States. Christmas is typically the largest annual economic stimulus for many nations around the world.
Retrieved November 27. ^ Bank holidays and British Summer time — HM Government.S. 7. 2011. with January 18 being Christmas Eve. Retrieved November 27. 4. . Archived 2009-10-31. ^ a b Several traditions of Eastern Christianity that use the Julian calendar also celebrate on December 25 according to that calendar.environment and the fact that material gifts are often perceived as white elephants. 2. See also Christmas portal Holidays portal • • • • • • • • • Christmas Eve Christmas Sunday Christmas worldwide Little Christmas Midwinter Christmas Midwinter Twelve days of Christmas Yuletide Waffle_day (March 25th. Retrieved November 27. which is now January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. 5. still celebrating Christmas Day on January 6. 2008. ^ a b Christmas as a Multi-faith Festival—BBC News.net/topics/coptic_calendar/nativitydate. "The Glorious Feast of Nativity: 7 January? 29 Kiahk? 25 December?". Retrieved October 6.sacreddestinations. 2009. Some Armenian churches use the Julian calendar. Office of Personnel Management. 8. http://www. ^ Canadian Heritage – Public holidays — Government of Canada. Retrieved September 30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Christmas". 2009. 2008. imposing cost for upkeep and storage and contributing to clutter. The Catholic Encyclopedia. 3. 6. John. 1913.copticchurch. ^ 2009 Federal Holidays — U. Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Most Armenian Christians use the Gregorian calendar. ^ Christmas.com/israel/bethlehem-christmas. 9 months before Christmas) References and notes 1.html. ^ a b c "Christmas in Bethlehem". 2009. Armenian Churches observed the nativity on January 6 even before the Gregorian calendar originated. 9. Merriam-Webster. ^ Ramzy. http://www. thus celebrating Christmas Day on January 19 on the Gregorian calendar. Retrieved January 17.
CRI / Voice. 2:8). 587–588. Retrieved November 18. 14. "How December 25 Became Christmas. Paris.bibarch.130. 2006. Susan K. http://www. December 22.. ^ a b "The Christmas Season".org/cyxmas. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 12. 1995). The calendrical verification of the feast itself is not really that important. ^ a b The Liturgical Year. but it is not the beginning of the liturgical year. "Calculating Christmas". the Resurrection of the Christ of faith could happen. a remembrance. Christmas is a pinnacle feast.google.cresourcei. It is a memorial. John (1733). 13. 262 ff. 18:59 19. Santa endures". ^ "Poll: In a changing nation. Toward the Origins of Christmas. The fact of the date and the fact of the birth are two different things. not necessarily where of when it happened. 15. William J. 21. 2009.What is important to the understanding of a life-changing moment is that it happened. ^ Non-Christians focus on secular side of Christmas — Sioux City Journal. Susan K. ^ "The Christmas Season". 1995). ^ a b c S. ISBN 9780849901195. (Peeters Publishers. 2009. Biblical Archaeology Review. Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel. ^ Roll. (Roll. and the Apocalypse of St. Retrieved December 20.. 4:15) and who humbled Himself "to the point of death-even death on a cross" (Phil. CRI / Voice. 129. Retrieved 2009-12-13". 2009-11-03.org.html. Associated Press. pp. Seasonal Festivals of the Greeks and Romans Pliny the Elder. pp. the sun in the art and religions of Rome. http://www.com/? id=inhMGc5732kC&pg=PT40&dq=date+of+christmas+important#v=onepage&q =date%20of%20christmas%20important&f=false. ^ a b McGowan. Duchesne.html. of the birth of Jesus. 2009.. 17. Thomas Nelson. Andrew. A sun connection is possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the "sun of righteousness" prophesied in Malachi 4:2. Encarta Roll.asp. Retrieved 2011-02-24. Pope Benedict XIV argued in 1761 that the church fathers would have known the correct date of birth from Roman census records. XI. ^ Why I celebrate Christmas. Retrieved 2009-04-02. ^ "Bruma". p. ^ a b Newton.org/cyxmas. yes. Ch. It is about the celebration of a birth. http://www. Retrieved November 18. Louis. 2010. Hijmans. It is about the Incarnation of the One who became like us in all things but sin (Heb. The message is clear: Christmas is not about marking the actual birth date of Jesus.crivoice. by the world's most famous atheist – DailyMail. Institute. ^ For example. 2008. 20. Bib-arch. not really a celebration of the day itself.. Tighe. "Christmas is not really about the celebration of a birth date at all." 22.org/e-features/christmas.. Les Origines du Culte Chrétien. Toward the Origins of Christmas.) 18.10. 16. . Sol. 88–90. 1902. We remember that because the Jesus of history was born. ^ a b "Christmas". 11. Archived 2009-10-31. http://books. Natural History. December 23. p.E. Retrieved 2008-12-25. Institute. Isaac. (Peeters Publishers.
^ Miles.google. ^ Geza Vermes. 25. 29. even though the author uses different techniques in presenting them.google. The Nativity: History and Legend. The Historical Figure of Jesus. http://www.google. ISBN 9780802831675. http://books.biblegateway. ^ a b Ace Collins (2010-04-01). p. The Lukan nativity account shows a similar concern and emphasis. 2009. 2006. Biblegateway. Harper Collins. ISBN 9780310873884. TEKTON. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas.com/miracle/nativity. for neither the exact date not the period of the year at which the birth of Christ occurred is known. others in May. ^ Larry W. ISBN 0-7692-4399-1. Retrieved 2010-12-02. http://www. Christmas customs and traditions. "Reconciling the Nativity Stories of Matthew and Luke". 31. "Throughout the Christian world the 25th of December is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ. The choice of that day was. P. ^ JPH. For purposes of commemoration. 272.html.org/af/birthnarr.23. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity.. Retrieved 2011-02-24. of course. Wm B. 33. as in a number of other matters.com/passage/?search=Matthew%202:1-11. 30.com/passage/?search=Luke%202:1-16. P. http://books. Volume 49. Zondervan. Harvard University. till finally December 25 was agreed upon as the most appropriate date. Clement A. Penguin.com/? id=k32wZRMxltUC&pg=PA327&dq=nativity+accounts#v=onepage&q=nativity %20accounts&f=false. 12. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 1993.tektonics. ^ Matthew 2:2. Eerdmans Publishing Co. E.&version=9. which opens (1:2-3) with a citation of "Isaiah the prophet" to introduce and frame the ensuing story of Jesus. ^ "Luke 2:1–6".85. p. Sanders. Retrieved 2009-0402. and still others at the close of September. Many Christians kept their Christmas in April.. p. Customs & Legends. 28. wholly arbitrary. Ehrman. 1894. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 34. 19-60 26. Hurtado (2005-12-15).com. London. 32. in this emphasis Matthew essentially has extended and elaborated an affirmation that is already made in Mark. Alfred Publishing (1985). ^ Heller. http://www. it is unimportant whether the celebration shall fall or not a the precise anniversary of the joyous event.html. Bart D. ^ Jesus. p22. ISBN 0-486-23354-5. Biblegateway. There was a time when the churches were not united regarding the date of the joyous event. however. ^ Richard Bruce. Ruth. Retrieved 2010-12-02. http://richleebruce. Courier Dover Publications. 1976.com/? id=x_kBAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA469&dq=date+of+christmas+unimportant#v=onep age&q=date%20of%20christmas%20unimportant&f=false. Christmas: Its Carols." 27.com. ^ "Matthew 2:1–11".com/? . ^ a b The School Journal.&version=9. "Yet. Interrupted: Revealing The Hidden Contradictions In The Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)..biblegateway. "The Nativity Stories Harmonized".. http://books." 24.
University of California Press. ^ Collins. Tony. St. Christmas customs and traditions.org/nenn/nicholas/nicholas_of_myra3. Livius.christmasarchives. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 2007 52. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 53. 35.550.com/trees. 50. ^ a b Lejeune. Christmas: a candid history.htm. ISBN 0-81170328-2.org.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view. Andrea (2007) Food and cooking in Victorian England: a history pp. Brian. ^ a b c Shoemaker. Paul: Llewellyn Publications. p. . p. Christ. 1995. ^ a b c Forbes. Courier Dover Publications. 1976. 2011.html. ^ Imbuljuta 54. http://www. "Saint Nicholas. QuestMagazine. 38. The Christmas Archives. 42. 1977 53. Taplinger Pub. Fashion Era. Edition 40. ^ a b The Origin of the American Christmas Myth and Customs – Ball State University. ^ Christmas card sold for record price BBC News.catholicculture. ^ Miles. ISBN 0-520-25104-0. Ace. Marie Claire. Bruce David. A Christmas carol p. Santa Claus". 46.cfm?id=1173 45. "Christmas lights and community building in America.com/Christmas/christmas_customs_tree_history. ISBN 0-310-24880-9 p. Douglas. Sinterklaas.10. 41. 31–37 48.fashion-era. ^ "Christmas Tradition – The Christmas Tree Custom". 2003 ISBN 1-55111-476-3 51. 56. 44. ^ Miles. ^ http://www. 52. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Greenwood Publishing Group. Timothy (1987). BK. Christmas Magic: The History and Traditions of the Holiday. ^ Jona Lendering (2008-11-20). ^ "The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree". http://www. ^ Collins p.. 68–79. ISBN 0-486-23354-5. 2001. Retrieved 2010-12-02.149-150. ISBN 1-56718-765-X 39. Retrieved 28 October 2011 55. ^ Broomfield. pp. 47–48 49. pp. University of Michigan ISBN 90-77135-04-9 43. Co. (2003). pp. 36. Spring 2006.58. 57. Broadview Press.32 47. ^ Murray.com. 2004-12-02.. ISBN 0-281-04300-0. Swartz Jr.livius. pp. 37. (1959) Christmas in Pennsylvania: a folk-cultural study. Zondervan. http://www. Archived version retrieved October 19. ^ a b van Renterghem. London: Triangle/SPCK. Clement. ^ Richard Michael Kelly. When Santa was a shaman.html#New. Frank (1977) Christmas customs & traditions p.id=mo8vgZoROl8C&pg=PT71&dq=christmas+colors#v=onepage&q=christmas %20colors&f=false.47. ^ a b Harper. Online Etymology Dictionary. ^ Dudley-Smith. Retrieved 2007-12-18. ^ Miles. Compendium of symbolic and ritual plants in Europe. ^ Muir. Alfred Lewis. 2007. Stackpole Books 1999. 83. 40. ^ a b Hal Siemer. A Flame of Love." History Matters.
^ Forbes. 2007. ^ Charles W. Migne P. 59. 67-69. Christianity Today. Springbearer. The Origins of Christmas. "VIII kal. p. 69. 78. ^ Roll. 75. "History of Epiphany" . Theology Today (Princeton: Princeton Theological Seminary) 36 (3).com. 61. ^ This document was prepared privately for a Roman aristocrat. Bari. 79. ^ Encyclopedia of Ukraine 70. The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York. Snopes. Why December 25? Christian History & Biography. Encyclopædia Britannica Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.saintnicholassociety. Retrieved 2008-12-05 65. Saint Nicholas of Myra. ian. ^ Origen. ^ Mikkelson. 87. The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power: 1653–2000 (Scribner) 1999. The Catholic Encyclopedia.. ^ Jones. ^ Coffman. 62.. Fourth Edition. in 2 CE". 71.. 2006. and Manhattan: Biography of a Legend (Chicago: U of Chicago P. ^ Matera. The New-York Historical Society Quarterly XXXVIII (4) 63. Bruce David. Bari. 80–81.htm. Hieromonk Nicholas. The History Channel. pp. natus Christus in Betleem Iudeæ". 67. "Review of Saint Nicholas of Myra. 80. The reference in question states. 1978). Retrieved December 3. 1911. VIII". Christmas: a candid history. ^ ""Christmas – An Ancient Holiday". This document also contains the earliest known reference to the feast of Sol Invictus. Roll. Hale. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. In one fragment.58. 2000. 60. 77. Retrieved 2008-12-05. ^ Hageman. Elesha. Charles W. ^ Yule. "Natal Day". ^ "Christmas. 72. XII. 495. 2006. 76. "The Claus That Refreshes". ^ Roll. p. Astronomy Methods. Joseph F.. and Manhattan: Biography of a Legend". 74. 2006. Liturgical Press. (2004). 68.  78. ^ Bradt.org/history.htm. "Levit. ^ Pokhilko. "Knickerbocker Santa Claus". ^ "Christmas. pp. 2006. Barbara and David P. It is in a section copied from an earlier manuscript produced in 336. Roll p." See "Narrative Narrative of Events Happening in Persia on the Birth of Christ Narrative".G. Mariane. http://theologytoday. 2004. Jones. p. Africanus referred to "Pege in Bethlehem" and "Lady Pege. Encyclopædia Britannica Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. Hom. Howard G. 73. (1979). Citybeat. 69. http://www. citing calculations by Roger Beckworth.edu/oct1979/v36-3bookreview15. 79–80. 64. ^ Kelly.. p. Issue 304 66. ^ John Steele Gordon. Only fragments of Chronographai survive. "Santa: The First Great Lie". then cites Roland Bainton to say that Clement may have used two separate calendars and the discrepancies between them eventually "yields 6 January. ^ "History of the Society".ptsem.
^ Andrews. Geographical Review. ^ Ronald Hutton Stations of the Sun: The Ritual Year in England. ^ Nancy Smith Thomas. 2010. Longmans. Christmas in Colonial and Early America. "Medieval Christmas". 1996 ISBN 0-8020-7752-8 94.com/life/books/news/2008-12-17-dickens-main_N.htm. Vol. ISBN 978-0-307-40578-4 89. 90. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 36 (12).126 University of Toronto Press. Mercuriuspoliticus. 17 – 24 91. 2008).) (2003). ^ Chambers. Retrieved September 10. pp. p.79. 2001. 83. History Today. http://mercuriuspoliticus. USA Today. p. 31 – 39. University of Wisconsin . ^ a b c Durston. No.usatoday. ^ Minzesheimer." (JSTOR). ^ a b c Restad. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 96. 86. ^ Les Standiford. Peter (1975). 2007 ISBN 0-8078-3181-6 87. 84. Wordplay: origins.. ^ The girlhood of Queen Victoria: a selection from Her Majesty's diaries. ^ "A Christmassy post | Mercurius Politicus".12 Broadview Literary Texts. 80.wordpress. ^ Robertson Cochrane. 88. Patrick. Apuritansmind. p. ^ Rowell. Wheeler.com. 81. Iris (November 2003). 211. meanings. 1996. Volume: 43 Issue: 12.au/~invhs/2004. The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Bob (December 22. Retrieved 2010-08-08. History Today. ISBN 7-166-2001-4. "The History of Christmas Cards". http://home. Alexander.wordpress. p. 35 (12) pp. December 1985.com/Christmas/DankoChristmasBanned. Green & co.9. History Today.97. Penne L. 2008. http://www. Retrieved April 30. A Christmas Carol.net. Crown. Dickens and the Construction of Christmas. Review and Herald Pub Assoc. "Place in the American Christmas. Domestic Annals of Scotland. 92. Geoffrey.vicnet.com/2008/12/21/a-christmassy-post/.apuritansmind.htm. New York: Broadview Press ISBN 1-55111-476-3 93. USA: World Book Encyclopedia. ^ Richard Michael Kelly (ed. "Dickens' classic 'Christmas Carol' still sings to us". 32–42. December 1986. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2007. p.com. http://www. 1912. 80. Moravian Christmas in the South. 85. Christmas in America: a History. (1995).. Inverloch Historical Society Inc. pp. ISBN 0-19-285448-8.61. Volume 10. pp. ^ "When Christmas Was Banned – The early colonies and Christmas". Christmas in my heart. ^ Earnshaw. ISBN 0-8280-1622-4 95. 7 – 14. ^ a b c d e f Murray. pp.. ^ Joe L. December 1993. 20.htm. Robert (1885). Inc. "Lords of Misrule: The Puritan War on Christmas 1642–60". ISBN 0-19-510980-5 82. ^ a b McGreevy. Retrieved 2011-02-24. January 1990. 1. Chris. 2008-12-21. and usage of the English language.
The Cromwell Association.shtml. 2006 100. ^ Don Feder on Christmas – Jewish World review 110. . 98. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Lawsuit This Season. ISBN 0-19-510980-5 103.state. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A Christmas Carol.html. 115. Christianchurchofgod. 1-4. and Prince Albert's mustache. and tales of “sinterklass” (a derivation in Dutch from “Saint Nicholas. and one more thing” December 11. ^ "Appeals Court: School district can ban Christmas carols". http://www.97. Retrieved 2009-11-28.) (2003).org/faqs4. 108. . Inc. Old Navy. Philip B. Broadview Literary Texts.com/httpwww. p.afa. 1–6 111. ©1998 John Wiley & Sons.96. 107. The Press and Journal.htm. ^ a b c Restad." Buffalo Law Journal 12/1/2005. ^ Lynch vs.com/philly/news/breaking/20091125_Appeals_Court__School_ district_can_ban_Christmas_carols. 2009-11-25. A History of Graphic Design. Richard Michael (ed. ^ Godey's Lady's Book. ^ Gibson. Retrieved 2011-02-24.aspx/1502592?UserKey=. including the exchange of gifts. p. 2001. Timetravel-britain. ^ First Presbyterian Church of Watertown “Oh . Action. Penne L. ^ "Marta Patiño.afa. ^ Moore's poem transferred the genuine old Dutch traditions celebrated at New Year in New York. ^ usinfo. except he removed the Queen's crown. .com. 77 Issue 96. http://www. to remake the engraving into an American scene. Richard. http://www. 2006.[dead link] 114. New York: Broadview Press. http://action.olivercromwell. Retrieved 201102-24. The War on Christmas.comhistofc hristmas. Retrieved 2006-12-28.” from whence comes the modern “Santa Claus”) to Christmas.com. (1995). ^ "Boycott Gap. http://www. Oliver Cromwell.net. Godey's copied it exactly. The Puritan Ban on Christmas". 104.com. Philly.com/articles/christmas/ban. 2005 102. p 148 ISBN 0-471-29198-6 105. "Differences set aside for Winter Night Light festival in Dundee". ^ April Mitchinson (2009-11-29). ^ Meggs. p. ^ "Jews for Christmas"—NewsMax article 109.christianchurchofgod. 112.gov “Americans Celebrate Christmas in Diverse Ways” November 26.The history of Christmas: Christmas history in America. ISBN 1-55111-476-3 99. John. ^ Christmas controversy article – Muslim Canadian Congress. Sentinel Trade.pressandjournal. family feasting. ^ Ostling. ^ Kelly.co. ^ "Why did Cromwell abolish Christmas?".philly. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 1850. 2006 101. pp.christianchurchofgod.uk/Article. 106. Philadelphia Inquirer.aspx?id=2147489466. Donnelly (1984) 113. http://www. ^ a b "Christian church of God – history of Christmas".net/Detail. Vol. Christmas in America: a History. and Banana Republic this Christmas". Retrieved 201102-24.timetravel-britain.20.htm.
co. "Christmas is Damaging the Environment. ^ a b Julia Kollewe Monday (29 November 2010) West End spree worth £250m marks start of Christmas shopping season The Guardian 120. How December 25 Became Christmas by Andrew McGowan Talkback Add Your Comment Click to view a slide show of larger images and captions. brightly wrapped gifts. On December 25.cfm. Report Says" December 16.S. December 1993.about. ^ Reuters.about. ^ US Census 2005 123. About:Retail Industry.htm. (accessed Nov 30 2009) 122. ^ "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas". ^ Gwen Outen (2004-12-03).".com/specialenglish/archive/2004-12/a-2004-12-03-2-1.What is Christmas Creep".uk 119. http://voanews. "Facts. 2010-11-02.com/od/womeninbusinessanswers/a/Wib-AnswersWhat-Is-The-Definition-Of-Christmas-Creep. Melody. Voice Of America. Christians around the world will gather to celebrate Jesus’ birth. festive foods—these all characterize the feast today. ^ "Is Santa a deadweight loss?" The Economist December 20. http://womeninbusiness. "ECONOMICS REPORT – Holiday Shopping Season in the U. Joyful carols. "Black Friday. The Holiday Season" December 19. ^ US Census Bureau. special liturgies. 117. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 83 (5) 124. American Economic Review. 2005. ^ Varga. 2001 125. Womeninbusiness. ^ "Definition Christmas Creep . 121.com. 2005. 118. at least in the northern hemisphere. But just how did the Christmas festival originate? How did December 25 come to be associated with Jesus’ birthday? . ^ South Molton and Brook Street Christmas Lights (Tuesday 16th November 2010) View London.116.
Christ.. dismissing them as “pagan” practices— a strong indication that Jesus’ birth was not marked with similar festivities at that place and time. 130–200) or Tertullian (c. Jesus’ origins would become of increasing concern. just before the Jewish holiday began at sundown (considered the beginning of the 15th day because in the Hebrew calendar. In the second century C. the date is not given. 165–264) goes so far as to mock Roman celebrations of birth anniversaries. But over time.The Bible offers few clues: Celebrations of Jesus’ Nativity are not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts. on the beginning of the 15th. 160–225).a Easter.. the 15th.”). Mark and Luke. it was certainly a distinctively Christian feast by the mid-second century C. miracles.. in the cold month of December. Jesus is crucified the next morning—still.E. Therefore let us celebrate the festival. has been sacrificed. the Last Supper is held after sundown. when the apocryphal text known as the Epistle to the Apostles has Jesus instruct his disciples to “make commemoration of [his] death. This stands in sharp contrast to the very early traditions surrounding Jesus’ last days. We can begin to see this shift already in the New Testament. was simply the gradual Christian reinterpretation of Passover in terms of Jesus’ Passion. Christmas was not celebrated at all at this point. days begin at sundown). The earliest writings—Paul and Mark—make no mention of Jesus’ birth. not even the time of year. . on the other hand. sheep might well have been corralled. According to John. that is.1 As far as we can tell.b These texts provide everything from the names of Jesus’ grandparents to the details of his education—but not the date of his birth. The extrabiblical evidence from the first and second century is equally spare: There is no mention of birth celebrations in the writings of early Christian writers such as Irenaeus (c. the Passover. Its observance could even be implied in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5:7–8: “Our paschal lamb. Origen of Alexandria (c. however. further details of Jesus’ birth and childhood are related in apocryphal writings such as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Proto-Gospel of James.” Jesus’ ministry.E. The biblical reference to shepherds tending their flocks at night when they hear the news of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8) might suggest the spring lambing season.. Learn more about the history of Christmas and the date of Jesus’ birth in the free e-book The First Christmas: The Story of Jesus’ Birth in History and Tradition. Yet most scholars would urge caution about extracting such a precise but incidental detail from a narrative whose focus is theological rather than calendrical. Passion and Resurrection were often of most interest to firstand early-second-century C. Each of the Four Gospels provides detailed information about the time of Jesus’ death. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide well-known but quite different accounts of the event—although neither specifies a date. a much earlier development than Christmas. In Matthew. Jesus is crucified just as the Passover lambs are being sacrificed. This would have occurred on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan.E. Christian writers.
”2 Clearly there was great uncertainty.E. Clement writes: “There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth. for most Christians. but with the Christmas story as a whole. however. The first date listed. and in the 25th day of [the Egyptian month] Pachon [May 20 in our calendar]. January 6 was at first not associated with the magi alone. Click to view a slide show of larger images and captions.. Further. on the 25th of Phamenoth [March 21].E. According to Clement of Alexandria.. Clement doesn’t mention December 25 at all. The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6. several different days had been proposed by various Christian groups. is marked: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae: “Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas. but also the day. December 25 would prevail. while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany.”3 In about 400 C. . In the East.. and others on the 25th of Pharmuthi [April 21] and others say that on the 19th of Pharmuthi [April 15] the Savior suffered. Surprising as it may seem. but refused to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6. the Donatists. others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21]. December 25.E. and then remained stubbornly attached to the practices of that moment in time. but also a considerable amount of interest. a Christian teacher in Egypt makes reference to the date Jesus was born. The earliest mention of December 25 as Jesus’ birthday comes from a mid-fourth-century Roman almanac that lists the death dates of various Christian bishops and martyrs. with very great accuracy. we find references to two dates that were widely recognized—and now also celebrated—as Jesus’ birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor).Finally. regarding it as an innovation. By the fourth century. who apparently kept Christmas festivals on December 25. Since the Donatist group only emerged during the persecution under Diocletian in 312 C. commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus. in about 200 C. Augustine of Hippo mentions a local dissident Christian group. they seem to represent an older North African Christian tradition..And treating of His Passion. however. in dating Jesus’ birth in the late second century. some say that it took place in the 16th year of Tiberius.
200) and the earliest celebrations that we know about (c. Most significantly. for one thing. This has only encouraged modern audiences to assume that the date.4 The most loudly touted theory about the origins of the Christmas date(s) is that it was borrowed from pagan celebrations.5 In the 18th and 19th centuries.So. Christmas. The Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December. A marginal note on a manuscript of the writings of the Syriac biblical commentator Dionysius bar-Salibi states that in ancient times the Christmas holiday was actually shifted from January 6 to December 25 so that it fell on the same date as the pagan Sol Invictus holiday. . for example. must be pagan. described Christ as the true sun. More recent studies have shown that many of the holiday’s modern trappings do reflect pagan customs borrowed much later. To top it off.. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between the solstice and Jesus’ birth: The church father Ambrose (c. the other less often heard outside scholarly circles (though far more ancient). who outshone the fallen gods of the old order. this theory of Christmas’s origins has its problems. too. The Christmas tree. early Christians deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a pagan holiday. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings. Despite its popularity today. claiming it as the time of the Messiah’s birth and celebrating it accordingly. they simply assimilated the pagan solstice festival for their own purposes. for example. barbarian peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times. the first mention of a date for Christmas (c. in 274 C. 250–300) come in a period when Christians were not borrowing heavily from pagan traditions of such an obvious character. the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun). we finally find people observing his birth in midwinter. It’s not until the 12th century that we find the first suggestion that Jesus’ birth celebration was deliberately set at the time of pagan feasts. According to this theory. But how had they settled on the dates December 25 and January 6? There are two theories today: one extremely popular.E. however. almost 300 years after Jesus was born. 339–397). Bible scholars spurred on by the new study of comparative religions latched on to this idea.6 They claimed that because the early Christians didn’t know when Jesus was born. the argument goes. as Christianity expanded into northern and western Europe. as many scholars recognize. is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign. more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated. as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods. But early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering. has been linked with late medieval druidic practices. There are problems with this popular theory. on December 25. they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church.
.E. which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. This view was first suggested to the modern world by French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and fully developed by American Thomas Talley in more recent years.d This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes. Christmas may well have acquired some pagan trappings. of course. recommended that local pagan temples not be destroyed but be converted into churches. church leaders in the eastern Empire concerned themselves not with introducing a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. in the first few centuries C. the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover. nine months before December 25. at which point dates for Christmas were established. The December 25 feast seems to have existed before 312—before Constantine and his conversion. A famous proponent of this practice was Pope Gregory the Great.to late fourth century.E. Many early elements of Christian worship—including eucharistic meals. at least. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered. This would change only after Constantine converted to Christianity.8 But they were certainly not the first to note a connection between the traditional date of Jesus’ death and his birth.E. As we have seen.Granted. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar.E.9 March 25 is. But we don’t have evidence of Christians adopting pagan festivals in the third century. games and holidays. Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. At this late point. the Donatist Christians in North Africa seem to have know it from before that time. Furthermore. on December 25. and that pagan festivals be celebrated as feasts of Christian martyrs. in the mid. the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice. Jesus was born. meals honoring martyrs and much early Christian funerary art—would have been quite comprehensible to pagan observers. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25]. Thus. such as sacrifices.10 Thus. which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. . Exactly nine months later. This was still true as late as the violent persecutions of the Christians conducted by the Roman emperor Diocletian between 303 and 312 C. public pagan religious observances. who. From the mid-fourth century on. to a Christian missionary in Britain. in a letter written in 601 C. Christian belief and practice were not formed in isolation.”11 Based on this.7 There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on December 25: Strange as it may seem. the persecuted Christian minority was greatly concerned with distancing itself from the larger. it seems unlikely that the date was simply selected to correspond with pagan solar festivals. Yet. Around 200 C. but with the addition of the December date to their traditional celebration on January 6. we do find Christians deliberately adapting and Christianizing pagan festivals. it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation— the commemoration of Jesus’ conception.
corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried.. he who took away and takes away in perpetual sacrifice the sins of the world. the dates of Jesus’ conception and death were linked. But he was born. wherein was never man laid. Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis writes that on April 6. 399–419) he writes: “For he [Jesus] is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March. at the same time of the year —than from paganism. we may perhaps also be touching upon something that the pagan Romans . But instead of working from the 14th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar. In numerous paintings of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary—the moment of Jesus’ conception—the baby Jesus is shown gliding down from heaven on or with a small cross (see photo of detail from Master Bertram’s Annunciation scene). One of the most poignant expressions of this belief is found in Christian art. the dates of Christmas and Epiphany may well have resulted from Christian theological reflection on such chronologies: Jesus would have been conceived on the same date he died. according to tradition. in Nisan the Patriarchs were born. we have Christians in two parts of the world calculating Jesus’ birth on the basis that his death and conception took place on the same day (March 25 or April 6) and coming up with two close but different results (December 25 and January 6). Joshua.)14 Thus. Tishri. Yet the actual date might really derive more from Judaism—from Jesus’ death at Passover. not the 6th) and Christmas on January 6. we have evidence that April was associated with Jesus’ conception and crucifixion. Connecting Jesus’ conception and death in this way will certainly seem odd to modern readers. in which he was conceived. April 6 is. the Armenian Church celebrates the Annunciation in early April (on the 7th.”12 In the East. The notion that creation and redemption should occur at the same time of year is also reflected in ancient Jewish tradition. In On the Trinity (c. a visual reminder that the conception brings the promise of salvation through Jesus’ death.15 In the end we are left with a question: How did December 25 become Christmas? We cannot be entirely sure. and born nine months later. in this notion of cycles and the return of God’s redemption.Augustine.. again and again. dates these same events to the following month. too. the easterners used the 14th of the first spring month (Artemisios) in their local Greek calendar—April 6 to us.E. on Passover Isaac was born. and from the rabbinic notion that great things might be expected. was familiar with this association.”13 Even today.e Thus. upon which day also he suffered.” (The other rabbi. neither before him nor since. too. In the East too. of course. Then again. exactly nine months before January 6—the eastern date for Christmas.and in Nisan they [our ancestors] will be redeemed in time to come. but it reflects ancient and medieval understandings of the whole of salvation being bound up together. The Babylonian Talmud preserves a dispute between two early-second-century C. Elements of the festival that developed from the fourth century until modern times may well derive from pagan traditions. “The lamb was shut up in the spotless womb of the holy virgin. recorded in the Talmud. so the womb of the Virgin. but disagree on the date: Rabbi Eliezer states: “In Nisan the world was created. upon December the 25th. rabbis who share this view. where no one of mortals was begotten.
pp. Louis Duchesne. 81–82. including Hippolytus and the (pseudo-Cyprianic) De pascha computus. 13. MN: Liturgical Press. “The Origins of Christmas. (Collegeville.16 Notes 1. 81–134. Christians in Clement’s native Egypt seem to have known a commemoration of Jesus’ baptism—sometimes understood as the moment of his divine choice.. “Fixing the Millennium. 1991). 101– 102. see Talley.21. Adversus Iudaeos 8. see Leonara Neville. would have understood and claimed for their own too. pp. pp. Cartlidge. 11. “The Favored One. Origins. Gregory of Nazianzen.” in Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year (Collegeville. c. Sermon 202.” BR 18:03. Talley. 10. 1925). 273–290. 90–91. Prominent among these was Paul Ernst Jablonski. Origins of the Liturgical Year. 291–347. De solstitia et aequinoctia conceptionis et nativitatis domini nostri iesu christi et iohannis baptistae. and many other peoples since. MN: Liturgical Press. 2000). 2nd ed. see Roll. Rosh Hashanah 10b–11a.” Journal of Biblical Literature 42 (1923). 3. Origins. Roll. p. 98. “The Appearance of the Light at the Baptism of Jesus and the Origins of the Feast of the Epiphany. 86. b. and Charles W. drawing on Roland H. 277–283. See the following BR articles: David R. pp. Origins. Origins. and Talley. In Diem Natalem. Talley.” in Maxwell Johnson. Tertullian. The Philocalian Calendar. pregnancies and miscarriages. “The Origins of Christmas: The State of the Question. For example. Epiphanius is quoted in Talley.21. “Basilidian Chronology and New Testament Interpretation. MN: Liturgical Press. A gloss on a manuscript of Dionysius Bar Salibi. Bainton. See Jonathan Klawans. . 12. 16. ed. There are other relevant texts for this element of argument. and now especially Gabriele Winkler. 118–120. especially pp. on the history of scholarship see especially Roll. pp. pp. see Talley. Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year (Collegeville.&rd. On the two theories as false alternatives. pp. See further on this point Thomas J. 5th ed. The ancients were familiar with the 9-month gestation period based on the observance of women’s menstrual cycles. 289–290. 15. d. (Paris: Thorin et Fontemoing. Scholars of liturgical history in the English-speaking world are particularly skeptical of the “solstice” connection. Augustine. Hedrick. Clement. Origen.” BR 17:03. 2000). 2. 8. 6. 5. 1171. 14. AO 03:01. Ronald F. b.146). Origines du culte Chrétien. Homily on Leviticus 8.who celebrated Sol Invictus. In addition. and hence as an alternate “incarnation” story—on the same date (Stromateis 1. For more on dating the year of Jesus’ birth. “The Christian Apocrypha: Preserved in Art. “Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder?” BR 17:05.” a. “The 34 Gospels.” BR 13:03. 9. John Chrysostom. see Susan K. d. 7. Hock.” pp. 4. pp. “Origins of Christmas. Oratio 38. 275–279.145. Origins. Stromateis 1.
which was actually a temptation for Christians to participate in that had pagan content to it. They capture the cultural form and they reinvest it with spiritual meaning. But it wasn't that way originally. They reinvest it with new meaning. the Easter celebration was later shifted from the actual day to the following Sunday. They take the momentum of a cultural practice--a cultural practice that may even have religious content to it. Let's celebrate it at the same time the pagans are celebrating their pagan festival. It has Biblical content. By golly. We've done that in other cultures and it served to offer a springboard for us into cultures using cultural forms and reinvesting them with new meaning. God captured the practice. a saturnal celebration around the time of Christmas that pagans celebrated.e. It was really a wise thing that they did and the kind of thing that many missionaries do even nowadays. Some have made the assertion that Christmas has pagan origins. If you read Don Richardson's books Eternity in Their Hearts or Peace Child. In the West (and eventually everywhere). By the way. it seems to me that if God can do such a thing--take a practice that had heathen content to it. offensive religious content--and they redeem that for Christianity. gave it to Abraham. reinvested it with new meaning and it became a religious rite for Abraham to worship his creator. It was a cultural practice which had some religious significance. or “Fourteenthers. But the church said. with the easterners sometimes referred to as the Quartodecimans. reinvest new information to it--then it certainly is okay for the church to do it.” Is Christmas Pagan? Gregory Koukl Greg sets the record straight on some old rumors about the origin of Christmas and separates the concepts of the meaningof Christmas from the spirit of Christmas. save the practice. They used to celebrate it in the Spring. Jesus Christ. Christmas does not have pagan origins. The question of whether Christmas is pagan enters into the idea of cultural practices. We think of circumcision as this really holy thing in the Old Testament associated with the covenant. for example. which it was. this . but there are winter celebrations that are pagan. there is an example of this in the Bible. "We can celebrate it any time we want. Circumcision was practiced by the Egyptians before it was practiced by the Jews. The insistence of the eastern Christians in keeping Easter on the actual 14th day caused a major debate within the church. Plus it will protect Christians from being wooed away by this other celebration to participate in what was a pagan celebration". So the church changed the day that they celebrated the birth of Christ. They redefine what people have been doing. There was. We make things wrong that the Bible doesn't make wrong. We've done that many times. It'll act as a contrast to that pagan festival because our celebration is the birth of the God-man.
That doesn't make our celebration of Christmas the same as that old celebration. we take a man's law that says we shouldn't smoke. But for us giving of gifts is appropriate because it reflects the gift that God gave us in the person of Jesus. It appears that is what is going on with Christmas. They captured cultural forms that had one meaning and reinvested it with a new meaning. For example. I think it can be legalistic to say one should not celebrate Christmas. If you listen to the words of the song "Oh Christmas Tree. One way it's used is to mean that we take laws that aren't God's laws. it's quite . Oh Christmas Tree. Now there is nothing at all wrong with that. So this is not a Christmas tree that we're putting in our house as an idol to some tree god. My point is that we have liberty in reinvesting cultural forms with spiritual meaning. We're not celebrating a pagan holiday because the pagan holiday was the saturnal and we're not worshipping the god of Saturn. it doesn't say you shouldn't go to movies. In other words. There are different ways the term legalism can be used. The Christmas tree for a Christian no longer betokens worshipping nature. but are in fact man's laws. Tokens are only things that represent something else… It doesn't have meaning or value in itself. or something like that. and this became a springboard to reach into these cultures with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No. or whatever the content was. I don't think there is anything wrong with that at all. My point is. That's a type of legalism. We have done that with Christmas. I think the practice of Christmas is fully legitimate even though there may have some pagan elements that were originally associated with a celebration at this time. Now the Bible doesn't say we shouldn't smoke. You look at the words and the gospel is in the words of the Christmas tree. I think it's good and healthy for us to do so. this view is legalistic in that it makes things that aren't Scripturally wrong and it makes them wrong. If you celebrate the birth of Christ. then you're doing something wrong. it doesn't say you shouldn't drink. and we make them equal with God's laws. We take our rules that we apply in our church or denomination and apply it to all Christians. It makes something a rule to apply to men when God didn't give them that rule.is what he talks about." the original was written with the Christmas tree being a type of Jesus Christ. That may have had a pagan meaning for others who practiced the other holiday. And we've done the same thing with Christmas. this is a tree that we are using as a cultural expression that can be invested with religious meaning for the Christian. In fact. It betokens worshipping Jesus. we make things wrong that the Bible doesn't make wrong. The same thing with the giving of gifts. We are not doing that.
and for anyone to say that 500 years ago it meant this is inconsequential. There is not a bit of paganism in that. Theirs is a festival that is commonplace now but which doesn't have its source in a direct command in Scripture. There is nothing in the Scripture that says that we ought to. It doesn't mean that anymore. we aren't obliged to do so. the language thing is a real important parallel because our words change . here is a difference between the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of Christmas. It just seems to be much ado about nothing. Some say no. but it does function like many of those other things that are in Scripture. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus.different. but they don't have that significance for people now. a special deliverance. that God gave them during what we call the inter-testamental period. Should a Christian celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? That's really what we are talking about. we are not blaspheming. How does that make any sense? Should someone have a Christmas tree or stockings? That's a separate question. It reminds people year to year of God's faithfulness and His goodness. those 400 years between Malachi and Jesus. but it strikes me that it is entirely appropriate. It's something that they do to recollect a deliverance. Words don't work that way. But should someone celebrate the birth of Christ? How could anybody object to that. This is a fallacy--going back to the original etymology of the word. Even if the word Christmas came from the Catholic Christ Mass. What we do on Christmas is focus on the birth of Jesus Christ. It just doesn't mean that. wasn't given by God in the Scriptures. the Festival of Lights. If you look back in the Old Testament. you are doing something pagan. The true meaning of Christmas has to do with Jesus Christ. Even Hanukkah. That is what it means. When we say the word Christmas. one of the things that God did is He arranged for the Jews to celebrate festivals that He established to remind themselves of the significance of that event by participating in these annual festivals year to year. The spirit of Christmas…has to do with the feeling you have. I don't understand how anyone can look at the Christmas carols that we sing during this time and say that this is pagan. Frankly. Why? Because when you celebrate the birth of the Messiah. Now. it doesn't mean that now. What the word Christmas means is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. I don't agree with the assessment of the stockings or Christmas tree either. Actually. It is appropriate. there are probably all kinds of things I could find in their daily life--their little habits and things that they do--that if you went back to their beginnings their foundation has all kinds of questionable ideology. and holding that if you say this word you are affirming that meaning instead of the meaning that you hold the word to have at the present moment. but not obligatory.
It means Christmas trees are part of Christmas. but it isn't about those things. For me. At one point in history a word meant a particular thing. and that kind of thing. It betokens worshipping Jesus. The true meaning of Christmas has to do with Jesus Christ. A Christmas tree doesn't mean anything to me. There is a difference between the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of Christmas. But this is why I can say. The feeling is a result of your past experiences with Christmas. has to do with the feeling you have. and I think that's fine. it isn't about peace on earth. It isn't about love. Christmas trees and gifts and stockings. The Christmas tree for a Christian no longer betokens worshipping nature. in my view. That's the critical issue. A bus token represents a ticket to ride on the bus. But for me a tree and ornaments are just my cultural expression that has to do with the emotional impact with Christmas. I have a Christmas tree not because the Christmas tree reminds me of Jesus. like a bus token. are tokens also. Now tokens are only things that represent something else. It betokened worshipping nature. it is about Jesus Christ. at a later point that word means something different so you can't say that when you use the term later on you're referring to the earlier meaning. By the same token. The significant point here is that my tree has no pagan content. It doesn't have meaning or value in itself. the second one is emotional. The spirit of Christmas. for example. The other things may be related. and if you were taught early on that the Christmas tree is representative of theological truth. then that becomes a theological meaning for you. the spirit of Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus. One of them is theological. it isn't about giving. They are entirely different things. it's simply a token of something else. though I could imagine for some people it does. Christmas is not a pagan holiday . Now it may have been that a Christmas tree was a token in the past of a pagan type. Technically.meaning as time goes on. this other thing is called a type. They are tokens for a particular meaning. That doesn't make sense.
339–397). the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun). The Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December. they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church. as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods. According to this theory. barbarian peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times. It’s not until the 12th century that we find the first suggestion that Jesus’ birth celebration was deliberately set at the time of pagan feasts. early Christians deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a pagan holiday. To top it off.. Christmas. described Christ as the true sun. more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated. for one thing. this theory of Christmas’s origins has its problems. The most loudly touted theory about the origins of the Christmas date(s) is that it was borrowed from pagan celebrations. on December 25. But early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering. for example. in 274 C. who outshone the fallen gods of the old order. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between the solstice and Jesus’ birth: The church father Ambrose (c.Biblical Archaeology Review has an interesting article on why Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign. is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals. A marginal note on a manuscript of the . The article also dispells the widely held urban myth that Christmas was a pagan holiday. Despite its popularity today. the argument goes.E.
Some object to the commercialism of the holiday. . Most significantly. There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on December 25: Strange as it may seem. 250–300) come in a period when Christians were not borrowing heavily from pagan traditions of such an obvious character. they simply assimilated the pagan solstice festival for their own purposes. . which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. public pagan religious observances. .5 In the 18th and 19th centuries. . Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. This was still true as late as the violent persecutions of the Christians conducted by the Roman emperor Diocletian between 303 and 312 C. This view was first suggested to the modern world by French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and fully developed by American Thomas Talley in more recent years. the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover. 200) and the earliest celebrations that we know about (c. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered. it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation— the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. . . on December 25. Is Christmas a Sin? Some Christians believe that Christians should not observe Christmas. others object to its origins.writings of the Syriac biblical commentator Dionysius bar-Salibi states that in ancient times the Christmas holiday was actually shifted from January 6 to December 25 so that it fell on the same date as the pagan Sol Invictus holiday.”11 Based on this. such as sacrifices. Jesus was born. .d This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes. In the first few centuries C. There are problems with this popular theory. the first mention of a date for Christmas (c.E. .9 March 25 is. In order to understand this subject. . games and holidays. nine months before December 25. which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. Exactly nine months later. Around 200 C.. particularly its roots in Puritanism. the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.10 Thus. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25]. Bible scholars spurred on by the new study of comparative religions latched on to this idea. of course. claiming it as the time of the Messiah’s birth and celebrating it accordingly.E.6 They claimed that because the early Christians didn’t know when Jesus was born. . it is helpful to trace some of the history of Christmas avoidance.E. however. as many scholars recognize. the persecuted Christian minority was greatly concerned with distancing itself from the larger.8 But they were certainly not the first to note a connection between the traditional date of Jesus’ death and his birth. .
The fact that anti-Christmas sentiment exists among some groups originating in New England should not be surprising. This syncretistic character of most forms of Christmas celebration was enough for Puritans to avoid the holiday as a compromise with the pure exercise of Christian faith. Gone. However." Consequently. there are today no churches that call themselves Puritans. some customs unrelated to the birth of Jesus that commonly characterize modern Christmas celebrations were also present in pre-Christian pagan celebrations. As late as 1847. modern scholars generally agree that the date they chose for Christmas was influenced by a pagan celebration on or about that same date honoring the "Invincible Sun. Puritans argued that God reserved to himself the determination of all proper forms of worship. No one knows the exact year or under what circumstances Roman Christians began to celebrate the birth of their Lord. who offered himself once for all. Christmas meant "the mass of Christ. is any concern about Christmas. Yet their theological descendants – Presbyterians. They believed the corruption of the church was brought on by the interweaving of the church with the pagan Roman state. worship and thanks toward Christ in forms not found in the Bible? Are Christians ever free to innovate in worship? May church leaders establish special days to celebrate the great acts of salvation? . To Puritans. histories. but focused instead on Jesus' birth. though interconnected. either individually or as a church. the practice was well established. except among their most conservative offspring. The mass did not evolve into the form abhorred by Protestants until long after Christmas was widely observed. but by the mid-300s. They attempted to base their faith and practice solely on the New Testament. They may simply have wanted to celebrate the birth of Jesus. and their position on Christmas reflected their commitment to practice a pure. No evidence exists that the Christian leaders who began this practice consciously wanted to compromise with paganism. The central issue regarding Christmas observance is this: How much freedom do Christians have in the new covenant. However. The name Christmas also alienated many Puritans.The Puritans believed that the first-century church modeled a Christianity that modern Christians should copy. As ardent Protestants. no college in New England had a Christmas holiday." The mass was despised as a Roman Catholic institution that undermined the Protestant concept of Christ. Congregationalists and many Baptists – remain. scriptural form of Christianity. The New England culture was permeated with Puritan values. The two customs had separate. to express their faith. Christmas was impure because it entered the Roman Church sometime in this period. The Puritans' passionate avoidance of any practice that was associated with papal Rome caused them to overlook the fact that in many countries the name for the day had nothing to do with the Catholic mass. and that he disapproved of any human innovations – even innovations that celebrated the great events of salvation. Puritans identified the embracing of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the early 300s as the starting point of the degeneration and corruption of the church.
music in worship. they deny it for customs and traditions. The fact that non-Christians or even some Christians celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday or in a profane way is not a reason to avoid Christmas — any holiday can be misused. priests. any more than not knowing when Christ will return diminishes the value of celebrating his return. "Once pagan. Jesus taught. To harshly judge those who choose to practice their faith in this spirit of devotion conflicts with many New Testament principles. They love their Savior and they love their families. circumcision and tithing all had ancient pagan counterparts. Christians who keep Christmas are not pagans. Even the sun.Devout Christians sometimes confuse ancient forms with modern substance. Temples. Christmas provides an opportunity for them to express both. The problem is not the date. was the addition of the synagogue itself and its traditions. Puritan criticism of Christmas was based on outward appearances and a strong anti-Catholic perspective. but the behavior. They do not worship nor regard pagan gods. too. always pagan" is the way some people reason. So. its celebration on what was once a pagan holiday is irrelevant. "Stop judging by mere appearances. and make a right judgment" (John 7:24). God transformed these customs into a form of worship devoted to him. carousing or any other conduct unworthy of saints. No one knows the exact date of Jesus' birth. At his birth people who loved God rejoiced in praise. After all. his entrance into the world was a cause of great rejoicing and celebration. But a truly Christian observance of Christmas does not include drunkenness. Love motivates many Christians to celebrate Christmas. They may admit the transforming power of Christ for people. Examples such as these have led many Christians to conclude that the church also has the freedom to add to its calendar festivals that celebrate God's intervention in human affairs. It is true that certain customs attached to December 25 are practiced in a pagan spirit by many people. . universally worshipped as a god by pagan cultures. Unless we are to conclude that celebrating Christ's arrival as God in the flesh is a bad thing. Too often. It is not a sin to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. because it made possible human reconciliation to God. When Israel added Hanukkah and Purim to its religious calendar – events that celebrated God's saving acts in Jewish history – these were acceptable to God. harvest festivals. Yet many of the practices God approved for ancient Israel had previously existed in paganism. They honor Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. such as the birth of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus. But this lack of knowledge does not diminish the value of celebrating his birth. fornication. and even the angels sang for joy (Luke 1:46-2:38). God used to symbolize an aspect of the Christ (Malachi 4:2).
. Christ should be the center of the celebration. We encourage them to celebrate it as a religious holiday.We encourage people to observe Christmas as a celebration of a very important event in our salvation: the birth of Jesus Christ. Some may choose not to celebrate. and we hope that Christians who celebrate Christmas and those who do not are both seeking to honor Jesus Christ (Romans 14:5-6). not a commercialized one.
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