Have you ever wondered how the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of a savior in ancient times warped into a man in a red suit with magical dear? Well here’s a brief explanation.
Centuries before Jesus’s birth Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Makes sense during the coldest months of the year. Not to mention that Biblical accounts of Jesus’s birth strongly indicate he was born in late summer or fall and not December. Baby laying in a manger in the middle of winter? Burrrrr. The theories around the time of his birth is laid out very well here,
http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/articles/when-was-jesus-really-born.aspx, but can be found on many sites around the internet.
The phrase Yule Tidings most likely came from Scandinavia. The Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In Germany people worshiped the God Oden. They believed he made nocturnal flights and would decide who would prosper and who would perish. Sounds a little familiar? It should because the very basics of Santa Clause are based on the God Oden.
In Rome they celebrated Saturnalia, a holiday in honor of the God of agriculture, Saturn. It was also around this time the Roman’s 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. Now, I’ll remind you that all these religious beliefs were BEFORE the birth of Christ.
It was Pope Julius I who chose December 25 as the date of Christ’s birth. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. As mentioned before, no date for Jesus’s birth was ever mentioned in the Bible, so December 25th 100s of years after his death, was a chosen date that made sense to the church. This makes the baby in a freezing cold manger with shepherds out lounging while watching sheep in the freezing cold night much more understandable.
And also, did you know, when Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and cancelled Christmas. The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined. After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact,Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
Santa Clause really came about in the late 18th century and giving gifts came out around the 19th century.
Why does this even matter to writing you ask? Historical accuracy. Having someone in the new world celebrate Christmas in the 1660s wouldn’t be very accurate. While there are many MANY more studies done on the true origins of Christmas we’ll stop here because as for writing, the basic rule is do your research. Make your writing accurate. To lean more you can visit these sites. We really enjoyed reading their articles.