A look at the history of Christmas

Leah Harrell, News Editor

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Christmas didn’t begin as a birthday party for the infamous Jesus Christ as one may think but had been around long before but by different names.

According to History.com, the middle of winter has always been a time for celebration.  Germany had honored their pagan god Oden during this time, the Norse rejoiced during the winter solstice, and even the Mesopotamians celebrated a festival called Zagmuk.  

But during the fourth century, Christian church officials opted to celebrate Jesus’ birthday as a holiday.  The only problem was no one knew when he had been born.  Logic pointed toward it being in the spring because the biblical story of the Nativity includes shepherds herding their sheep which would have been occurring during that time of the year.  However, Pope Julius I chose the now used date of December 25th in order to absorb the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, says History.com.

Christmas gained its popularity through the years as Christianity had hoped.  It also evolved, like most things do, such as being not much different from a rowdy, drunken festival during the Middle Ages to being reimagined as a cheery time for gatherings of family and friends in the 19th century.  

Specific aspects of this holiday had been drawn from ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Hebrews who used wreaths and evergreen trees to symbolize eternal life, says the HuffPost.  The actual tradition of the Christmas tree comes from pagans in Europe who used a decorated tree to scare away the devil and when they converted to Christianity this evergreen decorating tradition was kept.  Similarly, wreaths come from the Greeks and Romans and represented status and rank within society.  

Now that Christmas has grown into one of the most celebrated holidays in the world, conflict over the meaning for celebration has arose.  A “War on Christmas” is allegedly taking place by those ignoring the fact this holiday was established to honor Jesus’ birthday.  This is happening more and more as people continue to adapt this holiday to fit their own lifestyles which is exactly how Christmas came to be.  The holiday is still celebrated zealously by religious people but it has undertaken new meanings in this changing world such as a time to appreciate family and friends or the message of giving is better than receiving.  

For whatever reason this holiday is celebrated, it’s important to understand that someone having a different interpretation of it is perfectly okay.  Christmas took from previous holidays and has been constantly adapted through the ages to fit the society; so as time continues, it will continue to evolve because that’s part of the beauty of this day.