12.21.2007

The History of Christmas

I love studying theology. This morning, The History Channel presented a documentary on the origins of Christmas. Recently having heard a story about a friend being accused of being a pagan because she bought Christmas tree postal stamps, this particular program caught my eye.

So, did you know:

1. Jesus was most likely born in the Spring since shepherds usually don't watch their flocks by night in the Winter;

2. 12/25 was signified as a holiday way before Christ because it is the Winter Solstice in Rome, and they needed a reason to cheer up because of the cold and darkness;

3. The Puritans outlawed Christmas for hundreds of years because folks would be out drinking and otherwise being "naughty";

4. Christmas is originated from the words The Mass of Christ;

5. St. Nicholas was the dude who decided that he was going to give gifts and other charities to the commonfolk because he thought everyone should feel cheerful at this time of year;

6. Evergreen trees are a pagan tradition because they could survive for long periods of time indoors (thus cheering folks up);

7. The Yule Log is also a pagan tradition - they cut down a large tree and burned it for warmth and cheer - this usually lasted about 12 days (hmmm...that reminds me of a song);

8. The Catholic church decided "if you can't beat them, join them," and designated the celebration of the birth of Christ on the same day as the existing pagan holiday.

So basically, even though Christmas has morphed into a celebration of the birth of Christ, it originated as a way to keep spirits up in this cold, dark time of year. There's more, but you'll have to read the History Channel stuff if you're interested.


3 comments:

creechmark said...

The History Channel rocks in high definition.

angelq said...

Yes, Tim and I saw that same program. Er, he saw it and I slept through it.

cjh said...

Yes, knew the general #8 but thanks for some of the other specifics. So I'll give that woman the "pagan" when it comes to the tree. But what about a reindeer, snowman, and teddy bear? Pagan? :o)