For more than 2,000 years people have been enjoying Christmas – a holiday rich in numerous religious and secular traditions. The beauty of Christmas lies in the fact that we celebrat this holiday regardless of our religious beliefs. Do you know why we celebrate it? Check out some interesting facts!
What does the holiday mean?
In Christian tradition, the holiday symbolizes the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the central figure in the religion which is based on his teachings. Of course, people say Christmas prayers on this day and attend liturgies. Pop traditions include gifts exchange, family dinners, and Santa Claus visits. Nevertheless, the most beloved symbol of the holiday is Christmas tree. In the United States, just as in many other countries, the holiday is celebrated on the 25th of December.
You might be thinking that before Jesus arrived people did not celebrate any winter holidays, but you will be mistaken in this case. Long before the Messiah, ancient European people had a special winter holiday to celebrate light during the darkest days of the year. As you know, nights are longer in winter, so for many nations, winter solstice, which means that the days will become longer, was a holiday.
For example, Yule time celebrations, which started on the 21st of December and lasted through January, were invented to greet the return of the sun. During this period, Scandinavians would bring home huge logs, make a fire of it and feast until it was burnt out (a tree at home, lights, fun – rings a bell?). Normally, it could take up to 12 days. Every spark they could count symbolized a piglet or a calf to be born the following year.
Winter celebrations also had an intended practical meaning. For example, the end of December in Europe was the time when most cattle were killed because feeding it in winter was not an easy task. Therefore, these were the days (sometimes, the only days) people could enjoy fresh meat. Additionally, wine and beer were finally ready for consumption.
Christmas in America
When Americans saw that Christmas was a great family holiday, they started to discover and adopt ancient customs. People followed Catholic and Episcopalian traditions of the first immigrants. It took 100 years for America to develop their own Christmas tradition. So, despite the fact that Christmas celebrations always appear to be popular, original, and trendy, they are rooted deep in ancient European traditions, which were successfully re-invented.