of Christmas and Winter Celebrations
The history of Christmas dates back
over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated
centuries before the Christ child was born. The 12 days of Christmas,
the bright fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals(parades)
with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, the
holiday feasts, and the church processions can all be traced back to the
of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration of New
Years. The Mesopotamians believed in many gods, and as their chief god -
Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that Marduk would do
battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle the
Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New
Year's festival that lasted for 12 days.
Mesopotamian king would return to the temple of Marduk and swear his
faithfulness to the god. The traditions called for the king to die at
the end of the year and to return with Marduk to battle at his side.
spare their king, the Mesopotamians used the idea of a "mock"
king. A criminal was chosen and dressed in royal clothes. He was given
all the respect and privileges of a real king. At the end of the
celebration the "mock" king was stripped of the royal clothes
and slain, sparing the life of the real king.
Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival called the
Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places, the
slaves would become the masters and the masters were to obey.
Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls. As the
Winter Solstice approached, with its long cold nights and short days,
many people feared the sun would not return. Special rituals and
celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.
Scandinavia during the winter months the sun would disappear for many
days. After thirty-five days scouts would be sent to the mountain tops
to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen the
scouts would return with the good news. A great festival would be held,
called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire
burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate
the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches
of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.
ancient Greeks held a festival similar to that of the Zagmuk/Sacaea
festivals to assist their god Kronos who would battle the god Zeus and
Roman's celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called
Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st.
With cries of "Jo Saturnalia!" the celebration would include
masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the
exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits).
Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and green trees lit
with candles. Again the masters and slaves would exchange places.
Saturnalia!" was a fun and festive time for the
Romans, but the
Christians though it an abomination to honor the pagan god. The early
Christians wanted to keep the birthday of their Christ child a solemn
and religious holiday, not one of cheer and merriment as was the pagan
as Christianity spread they were alarmed by the continuing celebration
of pagan customs and Saturnalia among their converts. At first the
Church forbid this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail.
Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made
into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God.
legends claim that the Christian "Christmas" celebration was
invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th
was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians whose religion
Mithraism was one of Christianity's main rivals at that time. The Church
eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights, and gifts
from the Saturanilia festival and bringing them to the celebration of
exact day of the Christ child's birth has never been pinpointed.
Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137
AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child
celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius
I, choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas.
the Free Desktop Quotes Software for
Inspirational Sayings throughout the Holidays.
Us Spread The Christmas Spirit