Christmas is celebrated in various ways around the world, such as putting up lights on the house, baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, sending letters to Santa Claus, singing Christmas carols, and making ornaments. The word Christmas originates from the phrase “Cristes Maesse” meaning the mass of Christ in Old English. Christmas is a celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. The Roman Empire was the first civilization to officially celebrate Christmas on December 25 in 336 AD; however, it was not popularized until the ninth century. The date December 25 has a significant meaning, as it is exactly nine months after March 25, which is the date of Jesus’ crucifixion. The old emperor, Constantine, was the figure who formally established December 25 as the date that Christians would celebrate Christ’s birth. Although Christmas has been around for a while, it was properly declared a national holiday in 1870. Yule is another celebration that many partake in during the holiday season. Yule is a pagan holiday celebrated during the midwinter solstice that celebrates the return of the Sun. It begins on the shortest day of the year and ends 12 days later.
The concept of Santa Claus originated from a story of a monk named St. Nicholas in the third century. Several sources mention that Nicholas was a tremendously giving man, and he traveled along the countryside helping the less fortunate. Nicholas was born an extremely wealthy man, and he used his inheritance to provide for others. Unfortunately, Nicholas passed away December 6, yet he was remembered for living a life of humility. He became the most popular and praised saint in Europe. The Europeans then brought his traditions to America, and in the 18th century he was widely recognized by American culture. Now called Santa Claus, Nicholas is described as a big-bearded man who wears a red suit and flies from rooftop to rooftop delivering presents with his nine reindeer.
Another popular Christmas tradition is the act of gift giving. This idea dates back to when the Three Wise Men offered gifts to the newborn baby Jesus. These gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh; each of them representing a part of Jesus’ identity. In our world, today’s gifts are commonly placed under a Christmas tree or inside stockings. The idea of trees being decorated with ornaments, and lights originates from Germany in the 16th century. Records say Christians started to bring decorated Christmas trees into their homes, claiming the trees symbolized the birth, and resurrection of their savior Jesus Christ. Christmas allows families to celebrate and grow closer together, which is why it is the most wonderful time of the year!
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