Thursday, April 24th, 2014

I Bet You Didn’t Know This about Christmas

Published on December 25, 2011 by   ·   No Comments

1. Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas.

In fact, no one really knows for sure when he was born, but historians believe that evidence points to the month of September.

2. What we know of as Christmas today has its earliest roots in pagan traditions:

➢ In Scandinavia winter solstice was celebrated in a festival called Yuletide. Feasting, singing and burning a log for 12 days were all part of the tradition.

➢ In both Germany and Scandinavia, the pagan god Odin, rode a horse through the sky during winter to decide who would “prosper or parish.” Later this character became entwined with Saint Nicholas and gift giving.

3. Saturnalia

It was believed that many pagan gods were born on December 25th, but the Romans celebrated a festival called Saturnalia in honor of the deity, Saturn. During Saturnalia, social norms were forgotten, slaves and masters traded places, laws disappeared, orgies, public sex, murder, etc., were permissible on the streets.

As Christianity took over the Roman Empire during the 4th century, leaders looked down on these pagan celebrations, but since they couldn’t put an end to them, they reinvented them as a Christian holiday that celebrated the birth Jesus.

4. Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus

As Christmas grew popular throughout Europe, it became linked with Saint Nicholas, a bishop who was born in Turkey around 270 CE and died in December around 343 CE. Saint Nicholas dedicated himself to helping people in his community, disguising himself and delivering food and gifts to the needy. After his death, the practice of secret gift giving spread all over Europe.

“Santa Claus” came from the mispronunciation of “Sinter Klaas,” the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas.

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