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Dgreetings » Gift Ideas » Christmas Gifts » History of Christmas

Christmas History

Christmas has been celebrated for ages now and has become such an intrinsic part of our lives that it’s difficult to imagine a world without Christmas. Every body is aware of why Christmas is celebrated to mark the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, on the 25th of December. Eastern Orthodox Churches who use the Julian calendar celebrate Christ’s birth on January 7th. Both the dates are entirely for ceremonial purposes and historical facts do seem to point to the fact that none of them is really Christ’s birth date. Regardless, that does not in any way hamper the Christmas celebrations at all.
The word Christmas is derived from Middle English Christemasse and from Old English Cristes mæsse. It is a contraction meaning "Christ's mass". Although, the jury’s still out on what date exactly Jesus was born, there are strong reasons to back the 25th of December as a potential date. For one, it was exactly nine months after the festival of Annunciation (march 25th) and hence Incarnation. Romans marked the winter solstice on this day as well. The idea that December 25 is Jesus' birthday was popularized by Sextus Julius Africanus in Chronographiai (AD 221), an early reference book for Christians. This identification did not at first inspire feasting or celebration. In 245, the theologian Origen denounced the idea of celebrating the birthday of Jesus "as if he were a king pharaoh." Only sinners, not saints, celebrate their birthdays, Origen contented.

King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten. The "Yule boar" was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. Aside from feasting, there was also caroling. This was originally a group of dancers who sang. There was a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemn caroling as lewd, the dancing may have got out of hand now and then (harking back to the traditions of Saturnalia and Yule). "Misrule" -- drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling -- was an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on New Year's Day, and there was special Christmas ale. History of Christmas is rather exciting and illumination.

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