Origin of Christmas
Christmas, the most popular holiday on planet Earth, and so few realize it's long-standing origin in religions, and cultures, around the world. As Christianity spread, and Christian governments, and armies, occupied areas of other religion, it was decided the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ should coincide with existing, pagan celebrations to ease the transition. The church was wise in doing so, because to rob people who enjoyed frivolity, and parties, during the harshest time of year, would not take kindly to their holiday being removed.
December the 25th. Originally, this date marked the celebration of the Roman, infant god, Mithra. It coincided with both Saturnalia (a month-long celebration), and Juvenalia (a celebration honoring children). Many celebrated Mithra's birth, and for some he was their favorite god. Upon the entering of the Christian empire to Rome, and in order to keep traditions already established, and withstanding, Pope Julius I chose December the 25th as the time to celebrate the birth of Christ, and thereby, replacing the birth of Mithra.
Easter had always been the most important Christian event, and even upon instituting this replacement, Easter remained the most important holiday for Christians. However, all of the drunken rowdiness of Saturnalia was not abandoned! In the early years of Christmas, believers would attend a Christmas service, and then engage in drinking, games, and wild parties. The poor would go to the homes of the wealthy, and demand their best food, and drink, and if refused, the poor would prank them. It was not a time of well-mannered, well-being, and decorum. That would not come for several, hundred years. People during the Middle Ages viewed Christmas as the time when the rich paid restitution to the poor, in one form, or another.
Christmas saw its first, true transformation into a holiday that celebrated the birth of Christ, love, and peace, after Charles IIreinstituted the holiday, after it had been officially removed from practice by Oliver Cromwell. Upon Charles II bringing Christmas back, it no longer was the day of recklessness, and virtually mimicking Halloween celebrations. Though, some of the first people to America did not celebrate Christmas. They believed it to be, still, a far too controversial celebration, and it was outlawed from the colonies until close to the early 18th century. Christmas was an illegal celebration in the city of Boston until 1681. A few of the early settlements did have small, merry Christmas celebrations, such as the Christmases in the Jamestown settlement. All of that came to an end, though, after the Revolutionary War, when the newly victorious Americans did not want to celebrate any English traditions, Christmas included.
From this point forward, Christmas was not an annual, country-wide celebration, It was a choice of each family, each area, whether, or not, they chose to recognize, or practice, the celebration known as Christmas. As the 19th century dawned, Americans decided to re-invent the carnival-like holiday known as Christmas, into the final transformation for the holiday, which is what we celebrate now. A Christmas of gifts, Who do you have to thank for this? A writer known as Washington Irving published short stories that illustrated a Christmas holiday full of happiness, warmth, tradition, and gentle merriment. Around the same time Charles Dickens published "A Christmas Carol", which led to a mass adoption of a kinder, gentler, more refined adoption of what Christmas was, and should be. From the 19th century, forward, the Christmas the 21st century continues to enjoy, was cemented into history. How will Christmas be transformed in the future? Who knows. It has certainly come a long way from being a rowdy, raucous, crazed celebration that bordered on debauchery, and illegal acts, to a holiday that has a Santa Claus, reindeer, Jack Frost, and more benign, holiday frivolity.