Christmas wasn’t a major Christian holiday until the
Roman Empire adopted Christianity. They didn’t know exactly when Jesus Christ was born so they chose December 25 because it was close to the pagan celebration Sol Invictus.
This holiday was to celebrate the Winter Solstice. It was a major holiday, so it was easy to just change its name and keep many of the customs, some of which we have today. In addition, each country or tribes in
Europe contributed something from their own solstice celebration.
Mistletoe was considered sacred by the Druids of Ireland and
. They believed it had magic powers. It was later adopted by the Christian Church, In the York cathedral the minister placed the branch on the High Altar and proclaimed “public and universal liberty, pardon and freedom of all sorts of inferior and wicked people at the minster gates, and the gates of the city, towards the four quarters of heaven.” England
“The Egyptians were part of a long line of cultures that treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrive, they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death.
The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a fest called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life.
Centuries ago in
, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and place evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits.” Great Britain
Santa Claus comes from a variety of persons with different clothing and names from all over
The American Santa is a product of a blend of many different cultures and customs. His earliest ancestors date back to pre-Christian days, when sky-riding gods ruled the earth. The mythological characters Odin, Thor, and Saturn gave us the basis for many of Santa's characteristics.
His suite was not always red. He was not always fat. He had many means of travel.
According to THE MAKING OF SANTA CLAUS;
“After the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, the feasting and veneration of Catholic saints were banned. But people had become accustomed to the annual visit from their gift-giving saint and didn't want to forget the purpose of the holiday. So in some countries, the festivities of St. Nicholas' Day were merged with Christmas celebrations, and although the gift-bearer took on new, non-religious forms, he still reflected the saints generous spirit.
Germany, he appeared as Weihnachtsmann, in England as Father Christmas, and in , as Pèrè Noël, who left small gifts in the children's shoes.” France
Where ever our traditions come from it really does not matter. People can attach Christian meaning to all these symbols if they so desire. Non-Christians can choose to celebrate the Solstice. Either way this is the holiday season and many of us will take part in some of these customs.