Traditions & History
The History of Christmas
By Sarah Lane
Nov 17, 2008, 08:44 PST

The History of Christmas

In the 4th century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Since the date of his birth is not pinpointed in the Bible, Pope Julius I chose December 25th.

A common theory with many of our holidays is that they were originally pagan festivals but were intentionally absorbed by Christianity. With the church celebrating Christmas at the end of December during winter solstice festivals, the chances were great for Christmas to become popular with the public. Christmas was not, however, a holiday in early America because of the strict puritanical beliefs of the settlers. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26th, 1870.

Over the next hundred years, Americans combined world traditions with some of their own to create a celebration unique to their culture. Although it might be different than the original purpose of the day, it still remains a time for families to gather, share a meal, and make merry.

If you would like to know more about the traditions of Christmas, or how the rest of the world celebrates this holiday, check out our articles in the December category of the Monthly Grab Bag.

Source: A & E Television Network, Library of Congress

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