Origins of Christmas and Customs, What are the origins of Christmas?


What are the origins of christmas? Development of Customs and the history. Information on Christmas.

Christmas; It is a Christian festival that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. The name derives from the old English Christes Maesse, or the Mass of Christ, and the current spelling probably began to be used around the sixteenth century.

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All Christian churches except the Armenian Church observe the birth of Christ on December 25. This date was not established in the West until the middle of the 4th century and in the East until approximately a century later. The Armenians follow the old Eastern custom of honoring the birth of Christ on January 6, the day of the Epiphany, commemorating in the West mainly the visit of the Magi to the Child Jesus, and in the East, the baptism of Christ.  Some churches celebrate their most elaborate festivals on January 6, and in parts of the United States this date has been celebrated as “Old Christmas” or “Small Christmas.”

Origins of Christmas:

The reason for establishing December 25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but it is generally considered that the day was chosen to correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen. , to celebrate the “rebirth of the sun”. The tribes of northern Europe celebrated their main Yule festival on the winter solstice to commemorate the rebirth of the sun as the giver of light and heat. The Roman Saturnalia (a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and the renewed power of the sun), also took place at this time, and it is believed that some Christmas customs are rooted in this ancient pagan celebration. Some scholars believe that the birth of Christ as “Light of the world” became analogous to the rebirth of the sun to make Christianity more meaningful to pagan converts.

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Many of the early Christians denounced the joy and festive spirit introduced in the celebration of Christmas as a pagan survival, particularly of the Roman Saturnalia. They considered the birth of Christ as a solemn occasion. But almost from the beginning, Christians have generally considered Christmas a sacred day and a holiday. Because the birth of Christ brought a new spirit of joy to the world, and since the first story of the Nativity story, man has formed infinite variations – not only in words, but in art, song, dance and drama – and even has created special symbolic meals on vacation. Customs from all lands have been added through the centuries, making Christmas today the largest folk festival in the world.


Development of customs:

The English adapted many older popular festivals to their Christmas. In the Middle Ages, English Christmas were moments of great hilarity and good spirits, and large banquets and parades celebrated the occasion. It was in this period that the idea of ​​the Lord of Misrule reached its maximum expression. An ordinary person or a servant of a great lord was chosen to rule with absolute authority during the holiday season, and often his “rule” resulted in uncontrolled frivolity. This tradition may have originated during the Saturnalia, when the slaves became equals to their masters.

The burning of the Yule trunk was adapted to the English custom of the ancient Scandinavian practice of lighting huge bonfires in honor of the winter solstice. The idea of ​​using evergreens at Christmas also came to England from the pre-Columbian beliefs of northern Europe.

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The Celtic and Teutonic tribes honored these plants at their winter solstice festivals as a symbol of eternal life, and the druids attributed magical properties to the mistletoe in particular. The evergreen holly was worshiped as a promise of the return of the sun, and some say that the crown of thorns of Christ was made of holly. Legend has it that the berries were once white, but when the crown was pressed on Jesus’ forehead, the drops of blood turned the berries bright red. Some believe that the Christmas wreath originated from this legend.

Other well-known Christmas customs originated in several lands. While there are many ideas about the origin of the Christmas tree, it is widely believed that Martin Luther began the custom in Germany. It is said that the sight of an evergreen tree on Christmas Eve, with stars burning on high, made a great impression on him, and he placed in his house a similar tree, decorated with lighted candles. Some scholars argue that the evergreen tree, a symbol of life for the pagans, became a symbol of the Savior and, therefore, an integral part of the celebration of his birth.

A Christmas custom very dear is to sing Christmas carols. It is believed that the word “villancico” originally denoted a dance accompanied by singing. The Italy of the thirteenth century is considered the cradle of the true Christmas carol, and it is believed that St. Francis of Assisi, who directed the songs of praise to the Child Jesus, is the father of this custom. It is also attributed to San Francisco the first presentation of the nursery, or scene of the Nativity of the Child Jesus in the manger. Day care centers carved in wood, which often require years of work, are now traditional Christmas symbols. Among the Dutch of Pennsylvania, descendants of Bohemian and Moravian settlers in the United States, such a scene is called Putz.


The beloved image of Santa Claus as a fat, happy and bearded old man comes from Saint Nicholas, an austere-looking Christian bishop of the fourth century of Asia Minor, who stood out for his good works. The idea of ​​gifts associated with this saint extended from Asia Minor to Europe and was brought to the United States by the first Dutch settlers. The American writer Washington Irving contributed to the concept of Saint Nicholas as a festive figure of laughter, and in 1822, Clement Moore composed his Visit of Saint Nicholas (“It was the night before Christmas”) with his description. But the image of Santa in a furtrimmed dress that finally captured the imagination was drawn in the United States by the cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1863.

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Christmas has not always been remembered with joy and good cheer. Excessive frivolity had always been frowned upon by some, and Christmas was not celebrated by Puritans or Calvinists. When the Puritans came to power in England under Oliver Cromwell in 1642, Christmas celebrations were banned as evidence of an anti-religious and realistic sentiment. Penalties were imposed for celebrating Christmas and for staying home from work on Christmas Day. The Puritan tradition was taken to New England, where Christmas did not become a legal holiday until 1856. However, in other areas of the United States, the festive season was celebrated with joy by the immigrants, who brought their Christmas traditions with them. native lands. It is this tradition of “joy for the world” that today marks the spirit of Christmas in almost all parts of the world.

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