Posted 07 December 2008 - 05:39 AM
OK, Lets put this baby to rest.
Here is the History of Christmas:
Believe it or not, many of the traditions that we observe during the Christmas holiday season began way before the birth of Christ. Exchanging gifts, decorating trees, and the burning of the Yule log were all winter traditions that began before Christ was born, but were eventually incorporated into the holiday that became known as Christmas, and became part of Christmas history.
Over 4000 years ago, the Mesopotamians celebrated each new year with a 12-day festival, called Zagmuth. The Mesopotamians, who believed in many gods, held this festival in support of their chief god, Marduk, because they believed that he battled the monsters of chaos at the beginning of each winter. It is from this festival that the 12 days of Christmas is believed to have originated.
The ancient Romans held a celebration each year in honor of their god Saturn. The festival, which they called Saturnalia, began in the middle of December and lasted until the first of January. The Romans decorated their homes with garlands, as well as trees upon which they hung candles. During the festival the citizens of Rome would visit each other’s homes and hold great feasts. One of the theories of how the tradition of the giving of Christmas gifts came about was from the Roman practice of exchanging gifts between family and neighbors during the festival of Saturnalia to promote good luck.
During the winter in ancient Scandinavia there would be a certain amount of days where the sun would not shine. Upon the return of the first sunlight, the Scandinavians would hold a festival called the Yuletide. A Yule log would be burned in a special fire, and everyone would gather around the fire and hold a great feast. To remind themselves that the spring and summer would surely return again, people in some areas of Scandinavia would tie apples to tree branches. The tradition of the Christmas tree is believed to have evolved from this ritual, as well as from the Roman ritual of decorating trees with candles during the festival of Saturnalia. Some believe that the tradition of singing carols began when people in Scandinavia would sing celebration songs on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, which happened around December 22nd.
One theory about the evolution of the winter celebrations to the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the Roman emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity, wanted to incorporate the pagan winter rituals together with the celebration of Jesus’ birth. In this way, Constantine hoped to help both pagans and Christians celebrate together. Many believe that this is the reason for celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th. It is widely believed today that Jesus was not actually born on, or even close to, December 25th. Eventually, the Roman church became almost completely successful in making the December celebration only about the birth of Christ, replacing any celebrations that were in honor of pagan gods.
To me it doesn't matter were the holiday comes from, but how you celebrate it. For my family we chose to make this a special time were we focus on God and thank him for his wonderful gift of salvation. His gift of mercy and grace threw Christ Jesus.