The month of December is finally here! Getting gifts, decorating trees and singing Christmas songs is all we can think about. But do you know why Christmas is actually celebrated? Well there are many unknown facts behind the celebration of Christmas and various traditions followed in its celebrations you can share with your students.
Here’s a list of few things you didn’t know about Christmas.
Christmas is celebrated on 25th of December every year. The date signifies the birth of Jesus Christ which was about 2000 years ago.
But did you know that Christmas was not always celebrated on 25th of December? So here’s the fun fact: In the early years of Christianity Christians never celebrated Christmas as there was no mention of 25th December as the date of Jesus Christ’s birth in the Holy Bible. Easter was celebrated as the main holiday by the early Christians. Later in the 3rd century, December 25th was officially celebrated as Christmas – the birth of Jesus, most likely because it coincided with already existing Pagan festivals. (What is Paganism? Read more here to find out.)
By 8th century A.D, Christmas was being widely celebrated all across Europe!
Even after the spread of Christmas celebrations across Europe, Pagan traditions were still being followed. The Germans honored the Pagan god Oden during the mid-winter every year. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia to honor Saturn, the God of Agriculture during the winter. They also celebrated the birth of Mithra, the God of Unconquerable Sun on 25th of December. Some religious people like the Puritan Settlers of Colonial America opposed the celebration of Christmas.
The legislature of Massachusetts, in 1644, imposed a fine of 5 Shillings on anyone who observed Christmas!
3. Story Of The Christmas Tree
The celebration of Christmas actually began in the 1800’s. During the same time Queen Victoria of England married Prince Albert of Germany, who brought his country’s long time tradition of decorating evergreen trees to England. Earlier, decorating the evergreen trees was said to be a German ritual of Pagans. In 1848, an image of the royal family, standing next to a 40 feet long decorated evergreen tree was published in a magazine. This is when the custom caught on in the United States too.
Germany’s once Pagan tree has today become the Christmas center piece for millions of Christian families!
4. Santa Claus
Santa Claus was actually based on Saint Nicholas of Myra who was a Dutch saint famous for giving gifts. He is also called Sinterklaas. Earlier, Santa Claus was represented wearing dresses of many different colors but after the Coca-cola commercial in the 1930 which showed Santa Claus wearing red and white, people widely accepted the image of Santa Claus from the commercial!
So till date Santa Claus is seen wearing red and white.
5. Bad Santa
Well, not exactly. But in contrast to Santa Claus, who give presents to well-behaved children, Alpine folklore has a beast-like creature, Krampus, who would capture the naughtiest of children and drag them away into a black forest!Thankfully, Krampus is not as famous as Santa Claus. Otherwise, the whole spirit of Christmas would be tinged with nightmares!
The tradition of sending Christmas cards also started in England during the 19th Century. Well, now let’s talk about the gift-giving tradition on Christmas. Giving gifts on Christmas is considered to have religious significance. It reminds people of the gifts brought to baby Jesus by the Three Kings. But after the Industrial Revolution, Christmas became a commercial holiday and continues to be one even today.
From the date of the holiday itself to the traditions associated with it, Christmas has a long, colorful history!
Are there any fun Christmas facts that you would like to share with us? If so, please do so in the comment section below!