Christmas is a Christian and Secular Holiday
Christmas is celebrated annually on December 25 in many countries. Christmas facts show it is celebrated as a public holiday as well as a religious holiday. For Christians, Christmas is believed to be the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.
The Winter Solstice Was Celebrated Before Christmas
Long before Christmas and Christianity, the winter solstice was celebrated on December 25. Pagans and Romans celebrated the darkest day of the year, looking forward to better weather and more light. Many of their customs were adapted into Christmas traditions when some of the pagans became Christian, or when Christians took over pagan lands.
Jesus’ Birthdate is Unknown
Though Christians generally celebrate December 25 as Jesus’ birthday, Christmas facts indicate the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown. One possibility as to why December 25 was chosen as the date to celebrate Christ’s birth is that early Christians wanted to Christianize the Roman pagan festival of the sun. Another possibility is that December 25 was chosen to be the date of Christmas because it is nine months after the date of the supposed conception on March 25.
The Popularization of the Christmas Tree is MurkyChristmas trees are a popular sight during the holiday season. The tradition is believed to have sprung from pagan traditions, during which people decorated with boughs of evergreens. Saint Boniface also served to popularize the fir tree, by noting that its shape naturally pointed towards God. Some believe that the Germans popularized the notion of a Christmas tree in the 1700s, while others pinpoint Martin Luther as a possible origin.
Holly, Garlands and Lights Decorate the HolidayChristmas decorations abound with lights, garlands, and holly. Many of these traditions accumulated over time and have now become laden with different meanings. Though some decorations stemmed from early pagan festivals, others took on a life of their own. The use of green decorations like holly, ivy and evergreen boughs brings the promise of life and upcoming spring season in the darkness of winter. It also can to refer to the coming of Jesus. Lights brighten the darkness of the long winter nights and have come to symbolize the star that supposedly shone over the manger where Jesus was born.
Carols Show Reverence and Merriment
Christmas carols have been sung since the 4th century, when there is evidence of a hymn penned by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan. Carols became more popular under the tutelage of St. Francis of Assisi. Some traditional carols date back to the Middle Ages, while others, like Hark the Herald Angels Sing, were composed in the 1800s. Christmas carols focus on everything from the birth of Jesus, to Christmas food, to Santa Claus.
Charles Dickens Reinvigorated ChristmasCharles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a popular Christmas tale about a miserly old man who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. Their aim is to show him the error of his ways and force him to change his behavior. As a result of their haunting, Scrooge, the main character, becomes more generous. Dickens’ popular Christmas tome set a new notion of Christmas, making it a holiday during which to give back to the community and care for those less fortunate. It was a bestseller from its first printing, and TV and movie adaptations are staple fare during the holiday season.
Gift Giving Dates to Early Roman Traditions
According to Christmas facts, gift giving, though popularly referred to as a tradition started by the Three Wise Men, or Three Magi, at the birth of Jesus, actually dates back to pagan times. Saturnalia was a popular Roman festival that included gift giving in late December. As Christianity became the predominant religion in the region, it began to use parts of other religions in order to grow even larger and make it easier for people to convert. Converts felt more at ease, since their own traditions were being included in the new faith.
Christmas is a Compound Word
The word Christmas was first recorded in 1038 as Cristesmaesse, an Old English word that refers to Christ’s Mass. Christmas is a compound derivation. It is popularly abbreviated as Xmas, which has Greek roots. X is the Greek letter chi, though many Christians disapprove of this shortening.
Kenny G’s Christmas Album Tops the Bestseller ListReleased in 1994, “Miracles: The Holiday Album” dominated the billboard charts. Since Nielsen began tracking in 1991, Kenny G’s holiday album has been the best-selling Christmas album. In the 20 years since its release, only Josh Groban’s Christmas album, Noel, which was released in 2007, has come close to matching its sales figures.
Mariah Carey Has the Best-selling Christmas Single
Though Kenny G’s Christmas album shone bright in 1994, Mariah Carey was not one to be eclipsed. The singer stole the spotlight with her popular Christmas song “All I Want for Christmas is You.” It remains the best-selling Christmas single, according to digital download records. The second most popular single is the Chipmunks’ “The Chipmunk Song,” which has sold half as many downloads as Mariah’s merry jingle.
Jingle Bells Was a Thanksgiving Song
Christmas facts inform us that one of the most popular Christmas carols was actually written as a Thanksgiving song! “Jingle Bells” was composed by James Pierpont in 1857 to celebrate the Thanksgiving season. Its original title was “One Horse Open Sleigh.”
364 Gifts in The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is about a person recounting the gifts they received from their true love. If you were to add up the gifts the lucky person receives from their true love, you’d have 364 presents!
First Christmas Celebrated in 336 AD
The first time Christmas was celebrated was believed to have been in 336 AD in Rome. According to Christmas facts, it was most likely a mixture of pagan traditions with some Christian overtones as early celebrants began to make their own traditions.
Plastic is the New Tree
Decorating a Christmas tree is one of the most popular Christmas traditions. Often, lights, ornaments, tinsel and candy canes deck the evergreen boughs. Presents are frequently placed beneath the branches to be opened on Christmas morning. Many families enjoy picking out a tree at a tree farm, though, perhaps surprisingly, since 1991 sales of artificial Christmas trees have surpassed those of live trees.
Alabama Was the First State To Recognize Christmas as a HolidayChristmas facts tell us that the first state to recognize Christmas as a holiday was Alabama. It was made into an official holiday recognized by the state government in 1836. The United States recognized Christmas as a federal holiday in 1870.
The Brits Outlawed Christmas in 1647
Puritans in England were pleased when Oliver Cromwell prohibited the celebration of Christmas. Christmas facts show they believed that feasting and celebrating were immoral on a holy day. Thankfully, the prohibition was overturned when Cromwell lost his place in office.
The First Saint Nick Lived in Turkey
The Dutch may be responsible for the idea of St. Nicholas as we know him today, but he was originally a bishop in Turkey in the 4th Century. He was made into a gift giver and a new tradition was born. When the Dutch immigrated to America, they brought along their St. Nick, who eventually became the famed Santa Claus.
Christmas Facts – Fun Facts about Christmas Summary
Christmas is a popular Christian and secular holiday celebrated on December 25 in many countries. Its history extends beyond Christianity. Christmas has pagan roots and is often associated with the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. Christmas is the proposed anniversary of the birth of Jesus, though the true date of his birth is unknown. Celebrants decorate trees, sing carols, and exchange gifts. Children await presents from Santa Claus. The notion of giving to charity and volunteering are often promoted during the holiday season and stem from a shift in thinking about Christmas that was begun by Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol.