Where Did Christmas Come From?


Quick Answer

Research conducted by Bill Purdue, a scholar at the Open University, found that Christmas has Pagan origins. It began as a festival celebrating the sun, and in the 4th century the English church adopted it as a Christmas celebration.

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Full Answer

After adopting the pagan festival of the sun, the church turned it into "the festival of the son," meaning Jesus Christ. Some Pagan practices remained. For example, lighting candles and using baubles to signify the sun's presence. However, most were removed. Eventually, Pope Julius I marked December 25 as Christmas Day.

The Middle Ages celebrations of Christmas saw the beginning of feasting traditions many still practice today. However, during the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell and his fellow Puritans eliminated the sparkle and feasting, only for these practices to be restored in Europe following the Restoration. However, Christmas was not practiced in the United States during the early Pilgrim period, owing to Puritan beliefs.

Christmas found its roots in North America after Washington Irving wrote "The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon," which featured a series of stories about Christmas in English manor houses. During the Civil War period, Christmas became an important celebration in the South, but many in the north saw it as sinful. By the end of the 19th century, children's books and women's magazines had played an important role in spreading Christmas traditions throughout the country.

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