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History of Christmas

The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years as the various

Custom and tradition associated with the festival of Christmas were celebrated centuries before the birth of Christ. The exact day of the

Christ child's birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it

Has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as a solemn feast.

In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as

The observance of Christmas.

The History Of Christmas can be traced to some of the popular

Festival celebrated by early civilization that gave way to Christmas.

Mesopotamian: New Years

Many of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration

Of New Years. The Mesopotamians believed in many gods, and as their

Chief god - Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that

Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist

Marduk in his struggle the Mesopotamians held a festival for the

New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New Year's festival that lasted

For 12 days.

Persians and Babylonians: Sacaea

The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival

Called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging

Of places, the slaves would become the masters and the masters

Were to obey.

Europeans: Winter Solstice

Early Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls.

As the Winter Solstice approached, with its long cold nights and

Short days, many people feared the sun would not return. Special

Rituals and celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.

Scandinavia: Yuletide

In Scandinavia, during the winter months the sun would disappear

For many days. After thirty-five days scouts would be sent to the

Mountain tops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light

Was seen the scouts would return with the good news. A great festival

Would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served

Around a fire burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be

Lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie

Apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and

Summer would return.

Roman: Saturnalia

The Roman's celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called

Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January

1st.The celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big

Festive Meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts

Called Strenae.

The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians

Whose religion Mithraism was one of Christianity's main rivals at

That time. The Church eventually was successful in taking the

Merriment, lights, and gifts from the Saturanilia festival and

Bringing them to the celebration of Christmas.

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