The Strange History of Christmas

The holiday season is upon us. Christmas is the festival of joy, of gift-giving and of families united. It’s the holiday of love, of friendship, of get together, of gift-taking and gift-giving.

It’s that holiday where you can forget the worries of the turbulent past year and join in the countdown for the next, more exciting year.

But are you aware, that Jesus was not really born on December 25th, as per historical records? Do you know where the traditions around Christmas, like gift giving, come from?

Here are some pretty mind-blowing facts that are sure to give you a new perspective on the holiday:

  1. No one really knows when Jesus Christ was actually born!

The story begins 2000 years ago, during the Roman Empire. In December, the Romans celebrated a holiday called Saturnalia, to mark the end of the harvest. But the Romans mostly followed the religion of Paganism.

When Christianity spread in Europe in the fifth century, some common folk refused to part with these pagan parties. So Christian leaders gradually transformed these popular traditions into the celebration of Jesus’s birth.

Inserting Christ into these winter festivities was basically a civic compromise. It was a brilliant proposal to gain control over their regions without changing the traditions: Make the party about Jesus and you can restore balance to your kingdoms.

  1. Christmas was a violent booze-fest until the 1500s

The nice, happy, family-friendly festival we know and love today, was not always as such. For over a thousand years after its initial conception, Christmas was more like a terrifying Mardi Gras.

In England, plastered crowds would assume control over the roads, and a hobo would be delegated the master of the mismanagement.

The hordes would strike into rich individuals’ entryways and request to be served the best food and beverages they had. If refused, they were threatened with Christmas violence!

  1. America Banned Christmas once!

Well, all that drunken misrule looks kind of fun, but certainly not very Christian. Which is why when the puritans came to America, they decided that Christmas had no place in a Christian Nation and Banned it.

Yes, Christmas was illegal in America. In come communities, if you even displayed signs of ‘Christmas  Spirit’, you were even forced to pay a fine.

Thanks to the legacy of these rules, Christmas remained very unpopular in America.

But all that changed in 19th century, as immigrants flooded America, they brought with them a love of Christmas and their own traditions. Slowly, these seeped into the popular culture, and a new American Christmas began to take hold.

Today, we treat Christmas like its always been a sacred Christian tradition. But the historic truth is:

These winter festivities have Pagan roots, with drunken traditions, that a lot of Christians straight-up hated for around a thousand years.

By Aditya Umale