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Places like Rome, Europe, Scandinavia and many others have celebrated the peak winter days with a grand feast and a lot of gaiety even before the birth of Christ. It was regarded as the perfect time for the celebrations as the period had a good supply of meat and wine, musts for the feast. The winter celebrations revolved around the hope of the coming spring, after the long harsh winters.

While Christianity was still in its infancy, Easter used to be the main holiday for the Christian community in most parts of the world. It was only in the fourth century, that the churches decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus and observe the same as a holiday. Surprisingly enough, the bible has no mention of the actual birth date of Jesus Christ. According to some evidences in the bible, Jesus is supposed to have been born in spring, though this fact remains dogged with controversies.

According to the historical records available, Christmas was first celebrated on January 6 according to the old Julian calendar. The day was also observed as an official Roman holiday starting from A.D. 534. The practice was continued until when due to some disputes or other reasons, the celebration of the day was switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1743. This resulted in a change of date for Christmas celebrations, which fell on December 25. It is said that Pope Julius I chose December 25 to be the date to celebrate Christmas. According to the popular belief, the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival or the Feast of the Nativity.

The celebration of the day gradually spread all across the world, where the followers of the Christian community lived. This custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.

In the early seventeenth century, a wave of religious reform threatened to change the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. In 1645 Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and vowed to rid England of decadence. They cancelled the celebrations of Christmas as a step to achieve their goal. But, Charles II was restored to the throne and this resulted in the return of the popular holiday.

Christmas had a late arrival in America, and was even faced with some hostilities. In the years 1659 to 1681 the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. The Christmas spirit was fined. As an immediate result of the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favour and celebrating Christmas was among them. Though some places like the Jamestown settlement did celebrate Christmas with all the related gaiety, they remained an exception.

But with the beginning of the nineteenth century, the need for a festival to have some commemorative time, made the Americans embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday. Christmas was declared as a national holiday for celebration on June 26, 1870. And that was not all; Americans even re-invented the Christmas celebration and transformed it from a mere carnival into a family-oriented day of feast, fun and frolic.

Within hundred years, the Americans built a tradition in the Christmas celebration that was all of their own including, decorating trees, sending Christmas or holiday cards and presenting gifts. The festival also fulfilled the cultural needs of a growing nation.

With the passage of time, Christmas celebration became a part of life for the Christians all over the world.

Santa Claus

There is some or the other history to everything related to the celebrations. Santa Claus, an important part of the celebrations, has an interesting story behind him. The custom of Santa Claus signifies the life of Saint Nicholas, who was renowned for his munificence to the poor. He was a Roman Catholic bishop, who lived during the 4th-century in Asia Minor.

As the story goes, Saint Nicholas once helped a man's daughter with her dowry by anonymously dropping a bag of gold down the chimney. After helping the man's second and third daughters in similar manner, he was caught in the act. In recognition of his generosity, the practice of dropping gifts down the chimney was established. With the passing of time, St. Nicholas became Santa Claus. An important figure for the Christians, who is expected to bring gifts to all and even drop it through the Chimney.

Christmas Tree

The year 1841 was a significant year in the Christmas celebration in England. Prince Albert, the German husband of British Queen Victoria, brought the first Christmas tree in England to the royal castle of Windsor. And just a year later, America too was to discover the Christmas tree. In 1842, Dr. Charles Frederick Minnegerode, professor of Greek at the College of William and Mary, brought the first Christmas tree to Williamsburg, Virginia, America.

The green tree has significant importance almost all over the world. In Britain, for the pagans, the Yule log fire and the greenery used to decorate the homes were believed to bring back its warmth at the time of the solstice. Moreover, in Europe, Romans used green twigs for good luck talismans


Christmas time is regarded as the ideal time to get away from the crazy hustle bustle and share some good times with family and friends. The present day Christmas celebration is the result of the conscious or unconscious imitation of the customary celebration of the day in America.

Attending the Church for prayers and later having a feast time is the most necessary part of the Christmas celebration. The celebration of Christmas also includes a number of aspects that involve different kinds of decoration as well as ritual parts. The bit of greenery with a Christian background, the holly shrub and its red berries, common shrub for decorating wreaths, the presenting of gifts and cards, singing of Carols in every house of the locality, are all some of the important part of Christmas celebration. The blood-red berries symbolises Christ's bleeding death and his crown of thorns.

The significance of Santa Clause is also notable in the Christmas celebration. According to popular belief, Santa Clause brings gifts and toys to all on this very day. Like Santa Clause, Sinter Klass in Holland and Saint Nickolas in Germany are all a part of the celebrations. In Holland and Germany, Saint Nick's visits are made on the anniversary of the historical Saint Nicholas' death on Dec. 6. Children in these countries are supposed to leave bundles of hay for Saint Nick's horse and their shoes outside the front door. In the morning they are greeted by scores of sweets, nuts and gifts.


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