Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ.Learn all about the history and meaning of Christmas, it’s origin etc.
Christmas is an age-old festival with a rich history. Almost every country that celebrates this festival carries a different historical significance associated with it. Let’s have a look at how Christmas and its traditions came into being:
Where did Santa Claus come from?
He is known by different names across the world but where did Santa really come from? As legend tells us, Saint Nicholas, a bishop in 4th century Turkey, once dropped a bag of gold down the chimney of a man’s house who didn’t have enough money to marry off his 3 daughters. The gold fell into stockings that had been left by the fireplace to dry. From here on, he became the saint of children as well as sailors after helping them safely make their sea voyage. St. Nicholas’ feast day is celebrated on December 6 and since Pope Julius I decided December 25 to be the date of Christ’s birth, the two events gradually became associated with one another. Apparently, Dutch settlers brought the concept of Saint Nicholas (also called ‘Sinterklaas’ in the Dutch language) to North America, thus the ‘Santa Claus’ we know today is really an Americanised Saint Nicholas/Sinterklaas!
Origin of Santa’s reindeer
During the 18th century, reindeer were domesticated in Scandinavian and Eastern European countries and were often used to pull sleighs for transportation. Santa’s reindeer came into being with Clement Moore’s (1822) poem “A visit from Saint Nicholas” also called “The night before Christmas”. The poem depicted Santa on a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer (namely, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen) who help him fly from house to house in order to deliver gifts. In later years, a ninth lead reindeer was added to the list which came into existence as a result of Robert L. May’s story on Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, a misfit because of his glowing nose who helped Santa on a foggy Christmas eve. Santa’s association with reindeer may also have been influenced by the images and stories of the pagan God of Thunder – Thor, who travelled the sky in a chariot pulled by two magical goats.
Thus, each and every custom involved in Christmas has a unique history behind it, one that is worth knowing.
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Last Updated: 28th November, 2018