A Brief History of Christmas & Its Historical Beginnings
What was the meaning of Christmas to you all this year?”
Happy Holidays everybody!
It is that time of year again where everybody is filled with the Christmas cheer. The time of year where everybody gathers at their fireplace with friends and family, and huddle for warmth. The time of year where the kids are rampant with jubilant faces, and the parents are off to the present hunting races.
But since you’re cuddled up next to the fire anyway, let me tell you a story. A story about the very beginnings of Christmas, and where it all mostly came from.
The end of the year has always been a celebrated event in most countries around the world. The winter solstice was just arriving, and with that came extended hours of daylight and the harshest colds of winter finally going away.
In Scandinavia, there was Yule which was celebrated on December 21st. Men would bring home large yule logs and set them ablaze. From that point, the yule logs would burn for over twelve days. It was said that the farmers would be blessed with a new cattle or sheep when a spark flicked from the pyre. Alongside this flame would be a grand feast, in which they would engorge upon the last and final harvest before the New Year.
But this time of year was also celebrated for the fact that fresh meat and wine would be produced in large proportions. Cattle was slaughtered because there would be no grain to feed them, and the meat would be put toward the families to ride out and survive the rest of Yule.
In some countries such as Germany, people honoured the pagan god Odin during this holiday. While today we revere and look to Odin as the King of the Vanir, Odin has a terrifying presence and would fear his night flights through the sky. Odin also would then decide who would survive or who would perish.
In Rome, there was Saturnalia, which was celebrated on December 21st as well. This day was a celebration to Saturn—their god of agriculture. During this time from the 21st and for a full month following, Rome turned upside down in class and hierarchical construction. The peasants would become Masters and masters would become slaves. Food, drink, and wine would be celebrated.
Around this time, the Romans would also celebrate a day known as Juvenalia on what we commonly known as Christmas day. This was one of the most sacred days for them as it celebrated the infant god, Mithra—the unconquered sun.
However, by the time Pope Julius I took the throne in 337, most of Saturnalia had begun to become usurped by the Christian faith. Pope Julius split Jesus’ birth into two days Nativity and Epiphany. Nativity, also known as Christmas, is the day that Jesus was slid forth from the womb of Mary while Epiphany takes place twelve days after his birth when the Three Kings found baby Jesus in the manger.
So there we have it as to why the 25th is Christmas, but the parallels between so many different countries is absolutely mind blowing.
The Meaning of Christmas and the Spirit
The meaning of Christmas has often changed through the years because of who got to celebrate it. On facing the factual information that we can concede is that Christmas has always been about feasts. Due to farmers being unable to work in the cold, and agriculture coming to an absolute stand-still provides us with the fact that we would consume as much as possible during the lasting days of the Winter Solstice.
But that has changed as Christmas slowly evolved from different ritual holidays into a symbol of faith.
Nowadays Christmas is widely regarded as a time for all to come together and create a seasonal meaning of peace and prosperity. In the time where all things would hang low, the end of the year rapidly approaching, Christmas was meant to provide a benefit and a happy goodbye before the New Year.
Needing a large enough sample on who enjoys what, I have decided to ask a good bit of my co-workers what Christmas meant to them. As Christmas is attributed to so many different ideals, there couldn’t be an exact logo for what I wanted. So asking around I have found that Christmas has a pretty huge range between people.
So take a moment and watch this video that sums up what Christmas is at Ringer: