Christmas is undoubtedly one of the most important holidays in the world. People of all races and religions are brought together by a spirit of unity and giving that is simply infectious.
If you are celebrating this year, there are so many ways to do it. Read on to find out more about Christmas as well as some ideas for how you can make the most of the holiday.
History of Christmas
Many of use know that Christmas is a holy holiday that is the celebration of Christ’s birth. However, the truth is, no one knows exactly when Christ was born and it’s unlikely that his birth took place on December 25.
For years, the winter solstice had been celebrated in several cultures and countries. In Scandinavia, for instance, the Norse celebrated Yule on December 21. This was a way to honor the winter solstice and the longer hours of sunlight to come.
Rome celebrated a holiday called Saturnalia around the same time. This included hedonistic rituals and activities used to welcome back Saturn, the god of agriculture.
Meanwhile, the Christians didn’t have a holiday celebrating Christ’s birth. They only celebrated Easter as the resurrection of Christ.
When they decided to choose a holiday to celebrate Christ’s birth, they went with one that was near to the winter solstice in the hopes that it would encapsulate all holidays celebrated around that time. By the Middle Ages, Christianity dominated the world and Christmas was widely celebrated.
However, Christmas experienced some hiccups along the way. A period of reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe and it was effectively cancelled for a few years.
Early American settlers were of the Puritan faith and did not recognize Christmas.
All this changed when Washington Irving released his book The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon. The book is a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The heartwarming descriptions appealed to Americans who were experiencing their share of economic turmoil at the time.
Irving’s book made Americans embrace Christmas making it the popular holiday it is today.
But What About Santa?
Santa Claus is based on a monk named St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was born in Turkey around 280 A.D. He gave all of his inherited wealth away and traveled the countryside to help the sick and poor. He was known as the protector of children and sailors.
St. Nicholas was introduced to American culture in the late 18th century when Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of his death. They referred to him as Sint Nikolass which was abbreviated to Sinter Klass which became Santa Claus.
Santa Claus was further integrated into culture when Episcopal Minister Clement Clarke Moore wrote “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast was inspired by Moore’s poem and used the inspiration to create the jolly, chubby image of the man as we know him today.
How to Celebrate Christmas
Now that Christmas is here, there are so many ways to celebrate. Here are a few ideas.
Make a Nice Meal: Everyone looks forward to a nice meal on Christmas…. And there’s no reason why you can’t change things up. While most people will make traditional dishes like turkey, cranberry sauce and candied yams, you can go vegetarian, keto or gluten free. Or have everyone make their favorite dishes and bring those to the table instead.
Gather with Family: Christmas is a great time to gather with friends and loved ones. Afraid you might not get a chance to see everyone this year? Video chatting is a good way to make sure that no one gets left out.
Open Gifts: Everyone will look forward to opening their gifts on Christmas Day. Make this year different by limiting gifts to those that are under $20 or have everyone only buy gifts they know will be useful. See how creative you can get.
Play Games: There are so many games you can play. Charades, board games, outdoor activities…and the list goes on!
Watch a Movie: A movie is a bonding experience the whole family can enjoy. Choose a Christmas movie, go with an old favorite or pick something that no one has seen yet.
Dress Up: Whether you are going to see friends and family or just staying home with loved ones, dressing up will make the occasion feel special. Take plenty of pictures and post them on social media to share your hot holiday looks with your crew.
Christmas has come a long way since the early days, but it remains a strong tradition all over the world. How will you be celebrating this year?
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