Christmas is an event that many people celebrate all over the world. It is also a time for people to have fun and enjoy the winter weather. It is predominantly a Christian festival, although many people who are non-religious also observe the occasion. But where and when did Christmas originate, and how have all these iconic decorations and figures come about?
When were the earliest origins of Christmas?
Although Christmas became a federal holiday in the United States in 1870, and only became prominent in Britain towards the mid-19th Century, its earliest origins go back to the 4th Century when Constantine the Great was the Emperor of the Roman Empire. It was celebrated on December 25th, one of the reasons for the date of Christmas today. Only a few years after this, Pope Julius I declared that Christmas would be officially celebrated on the 25th December.
Why do we use Christmas trees?
Trees have been used to celebrate events in winter since pagan times, as they were particularly important for the Winter Solstice. The credit for Christmas trees go to Germany, as it is thought that Martin Luther had brought one into his home and decorated it with lights that symbolised a ‘Christmas sky'. In 2004, the Pope said that the Christmas tree was a ‘symbol of Christ'.
Where do Christmas decorations come from?
This question has a relatively simple answer: the decorations come from a mixture of both Christian and pagan symbols.
When did Father Christmas and Rudolph the Reindeer arrive?
The origin of Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, goes back to a man called St. Nicholas who was known for giving his wealth to other people and helping them. Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch nickname of Nick, ‘Sinter Klaas'. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in 1939 and was created by Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward in Chicago. He was chosen to write a Christmas story for a promotional colouring book.
What is the significance of a white Christmas?
When we talk about snow, we always think about one season in particular, winter, which we usually associate with Christmas. In some countries, snow is a part of Christmas and has been integrated into the tradition, but why is it so significant? The idea of a white Christmas is about the weather of course, but it also became a reality when Irving Berlin wrote a song called ‘White Christmas' which was very influential, made famous by Bing Crosby.