History of Christmas Everything you wanted to know about Christmas but were afraid to ask! The Assignment: Write a five-paragraph essay which explains how the modern celebration of the Christmas Holiday reflects the notion of the American Melting Pot. Be sure to explain specific examples in your essay.
This will be counted as an extra-credit homework assignment! Be sure to read notes section of each slide to lea more! In the beginning. The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the
world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of
What is Christmas?? Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth, but most Christians observe Christmas on December 25. During the Christmas season, they also exchange gifts and decorate their homes with holly, mistletoe, and Christmas trees. The word Christmas comes from Cristes maesse, an early English phrase that means Mass of Christ. Making the dark light
In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule (from December 21, the winter solstice, through January). It celebrated the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The
Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. Why December??? At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh
meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking. Naughty or Nice??? In Germany, people honored the pagan god Odin during the midwinter holiday. Germans were terrified of Odin, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then
decide who would prosper or perish. (Does this sound familiar?) Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside. Saturnalia in Rome Food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants
were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun. Saturnalia in Rome In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god,
was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra's birthday was the most sacred day of the year. ?what if you change that to sOn? Why December 25? In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday.
Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25. Why would this be a good day to choose??? Christmas replaces Saturnalia By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional
winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. Christmas replaces Saturnalia
On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today's Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the "lord of misrule" and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined "debt" to society
by entertaining less fortunate citizens. Christmas and the Puritans When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II
was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday. Christmas and the Puritans Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.
By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident. Why the difference? Christmas in America After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. Congress was in
session on December 25, 1789! Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870. Why Christmas Trees? Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special
meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness. The German
Christmas Tree 16th century devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Victorian Christmas
Saint Nicholas St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra (Turkey) He was known for his kindness and charity Became the protector of children and sailors St. Nicholas
Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). According to legend, Sinter Klaas makes his rounds on December 5, Saint Nicholas's Eve. He is sometimes said to be accompanied by a figure named Black Peter, who carries a whip for naughty children.
La Befana Italian Santa Portrayed as a witch, she delivers toys to good Italian boys and girls Knecht Ruprecht American Santa
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