Christmas greetings! I thought I’d share some links about the history of Christmas.
- Did you know that for the first 300 years of Christianity, Christmas was not even celebrated? It wasn’t! Some early church leaders were opposed to making Christ’s birth a celebration. The exact date of Christ’s birth was not even certain, and there was debate over what date to choose if it was going to be celebrated. The magazine Christian History does a good job of summarizing this in an article entitled: “Why December 25th?”
- Margaret Mowczko on her NewLife website, has a series of posts that she calls “Christmas Cardology”. Hmm…I think she invented that word “cardology.” -haha! In these well-written posts, she compares the traditional images of Christmas and the Nativity that we typically see on Christmas cards with a more accurate biblical picture of the events surrounding the birth of Christ. The idyllic images on cards often don’t match reality.
- The following resource is a secular one that traces the history of our Christmas traditions. A surprising number of our current traditions only came into practice in the last couple hundred years. For those who enjoy social history, I recommend this book. It is entitled: “The Battle for Christmas” and here is a description:
Anyone who laments the excesses of Christmas might consider the Puritans of colonial Massachusetts: they simply outlawed the holiday. The Puritans had their reasons, since Christmas was once an occasion for drunkenness and riot, when poor “wassailers” extorted food and drink from the well-to-do. In this intriguing and innovative work of social history, Stephen Nissenbaum rediscovers Christmas’s carnival origins and shows how it was transformed, during the nineteenth century, into a festival of domesticity and consumerism.
Drawing on a wealth of period documents and illustrations, Nissenbaum charts the invention of our current Yuletide traditions, from St. Nicholas to the Christmas tree and, perhaps most radically, the practice of giving gifts to children. Bursting with detail, filled with subversive readings of such seasonal classics as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and “A Christmas Carol”, The Battle for Christmas captures the glorious strangeness of the past even as it helps us better understand our present.
Well, I don’t mean to spoil your Christmas by inundating you with facts and history! But the sources are there for anyone who is interested…Merry Christmas!