Christmas Day falls on December 25, when we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem as it is written in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. After this festive period, Easter is the most important holiday of the church year.
The Gospels do not mention dates, so no one knows for sure when Jesus was born. In fact, Christmas Day was not officially recognized until 345 AD, when St. Louis. John Chrysostom and St. John Gregory Nacianzeno proclaimed the famous date (December 25) as the official Nativity. It was then that the church decided to absorb rather than suppress the pagan rites and customs that, since the early days, celebrated the winter solstice and the arrival of the spring.
The pagan festival most closely associated with the New Christmas was the Roman Saturnalia, December 19, in honor of Saturn, god of agriculture, who considered seven days of entertainment and banquets. At the same time, a similar winter festival known as Yule was held in northern Europe. This festival consisted of burning large logs and branches decorated with ribbons in the honor of the gods, in order to make the sun shine.
Around the Middle Ages, and once all these elements were incorporated into the cultural tradition, the church added birth and Christmas carols to the Nativity. But all of this ended abruptly in Britain when, in 1552, the Puritans condemned the holiday season. Christmas returned to England in 1660 under the reign of Charles II despite all the rituals had disappeared. They would not return before the Victorian era.
Christmas as we know it today was created in the nineteenth century. The famous Christmas tree originates from the Germanic regions, which then spread to other parts of Europe and America. The songs were finally fully recovered and the musicians began to create new compositions, although the custom of singing songs – although of ancient origin – comes mainly from the nineteenth century. Christmas cards did not really exist until the 1870s. The very first was printed in London in 1846.
The well-known image of Santa Claus, the sled, the reindeer and the bags of Toys comes from America and is a relatively new addition to Christmas. The current legend of Santa Claus is very old and complex; and he places the figure of St. Nicholas as a medieval figure who originated in northern Europe and symbolized the spirit of Christmas. The tradition in Russia is that St. Nicholas carries a pink piglet under his arm.
Christmas is considered today as a period of great commercial activity and gift exchange while we gather with our friends and family. In countries with a deep-rooted Catholic tradition, Christmas is especially celebrated on December 24 (Christmas Eve), where people celebrate with a large family dinner that consists of various dishes, desserts and traditional drinks.