What comes to mind when you think of Christmas? If you ask me, I would say Christmas is a fun time with your family, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. But not everyone would agree with that, there are many different outlooks on Christmas. People celebrate and view it in many ways. Christmas was originally a religious holiday for the Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but overtime it has evolved. This holiday is celebrated every year on December 25th, the typical Christmas celebration calls for exchanging gifts, reuniting with family, and showing their love for Christianity.
The first Christmas was on Jesus Christ’s birthdate, on December 25th, 336. Pope Julius I declared it as that date, although many don’t agree with him. There are so many disagreements because nobody knows the date Jesus was born because it is nowhere in the Bible. But, it was celebrated before the declaration of his birth date. The Roman Empire first celebrated Christmas during the Roman Emperor Constantine time. From there on out, Christmas spread around the world. The spread started with Italy and eventually became a national holiday in the United States in 1870.
History and Evolution:
Christmas’s history has evolved in many ways which was the start to all the Christmas traditions. First things first, how did it evolve generally? Well now, a lot of people don’t focus much on the religious aspect of it. It’s primarily about the festive house decorations, Christmas trees, and giving and receiving the best gifts. Most of these traditions are from Europe and weren’t common in America until the nineteenth century. These can be traced back to relating to old times, but it’s still not anything like how it used to first be, it’s hardly religious.
Now to the evolution of traditions. One evolved tradition to Christmas is Advent. Advent is the period of four Sundays before Christmas. This is the coming of Jesus to the world. The term, coming, can mean different things depending on your beliefs. The three main reasons are Jesus coming into this world to die for us, Jesus wants to come in our lives now, and Jesus will come back as a judge or king. During this period of time, people would fast to prepare for the coming of Jesus. The current meaning of Advent has almost nothing to do with the past Advent. Now we have advent calendars. Advent calendars are usually a cardboard box with windows that you open. The windows are numbered one through twenty-five to represent the number of days in December. In each window, there are little gifts. The only relation to the past is the countdown until Christmas was here. This is just one evolution to a tradition, it may seem small now, but it was a big deal at one point in time before the change. A more religious tradition, that hasn’t changed much with advent is advent candles. These candle are the candles the Lutherans used in Church for counting down Christmas in the 1700s.
One of the most popular traditions is the Christmas tree. Many people who celebrate Christmas don’t even know why they put up trees. Christians use the trees as a symbol to their everlasting life with God. We now have trees, standing rightside up, unlike the past times. They used to hang the trees upside down from a chain. The tree is a strong religious tradition, but it lost it’s value when people no longer take it as a serious religious holiday. It lost it’s impact when people evolved the holiday and it’s traditions into something just for fun.
Traditions have been so evolved, and the best way to understand is by explaining more about these traditions. The mistletoe tradition is very common now. If you stand under the mistletoe with somebody else, you must kiss them. Which came from Norse mythology. Not only was it about romance though, the tradition of hanging the mistletoe goes back to ancient Druid times. They are believed to have powers that wash away the evil spirits and bring us good luck.
Another tradition is sending Christmas cards. Sending cards started in the UK in 1843. Sir Henry Cole had this idea by wondering how this process could be easier to do for ordinary people. He and his friend came up with the idea to create the cards, so they started creating and selling them. They started a Christmas card business, they made 100 to start off and sold each for one shilling, which was the beginning to a worldwide trend. This is one of the very few traditions that did not change throughout time, but it is very popular around Christmas time.
Candy canes are a delicious tradition. They originated in Germany around 250 years ago as straight, white, sugar sticks. They later formed differently to become more religious for Christmas. The “J” the candy canes form, stand for Jesus. The white represents the purity of Jesus, and the red stripes show the blood he bled from dying on the cross. Also, the peppermint flavor represents the hyssop plant that was used for purifying in the Bible.
Many people celebrate Christmas as an excuse to receive gifts, but do they even know why we give and receive gifts. Gift giving is an important tradition to the Christianity faith because it reminds us about the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men. The presents were Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh. Frankincense was a perfume used by the Jewish, it would show that people would worship Jesus. Gold was a gift associated with Kings because the Christians believe Jesus is the king of kings. Myrrh was another perfume that was put on dead bodies, this represented Jesus’s death and suffering.
Poinsettias are a flower plant used for decoration in the Christmas time. They originally came from the Aztecs, but they had a different name for these flowers, they called them cuetlaxochitl. The Aztecs had many different uses for these like making dye, cosmetics, and even medicine. Although we do not have the same uses anymore, poinsettias evolved into a very popular decoration for Christmas.
Christmas spread to Egypt in 432, and later to England in the sixth century. In the eighth century, Christmas was apart of Scandinavia. No further spreading happened until after the cancellation of Christmas, in the seventeenth century. The cancellation was caused by Oliver Cromwell, an english military and political leader, his Puritan forces took over and canceled it. It wasn’t brought back until Charles II took the throne.
Because the pilgrims were Orthodox, Christmas wasn’t a thing in America. Anyone who showed Christmas spirit at this time would fines five shillings. Jews do not celebrate Christmas, because they don’t believe in Jesus being the Messiah.
Christmas might not happen as the Christians first intended it to, but it is still a successful worldwide holiday. It works for people that want to celebrate it religiously on non religiously thanks to the evolution of this holiday. The roots, evolution, and connections mainly go back to celebrating Jesus Christ, because overall that’s what Christmas is about. But, no matter people’s opinions, it’s a family bonding holiday that unites everyone with their happy mood.