The Story of Christmas

by Kimberly J Tilley

Thousands of years ago a form of Christmas was celebrated by many around the world.   December and January is a good time to share and be merry as we say good bye to the current year and hello to the new year.

Early celebrations of  Christmas were not always friendly, carefree and colorful.  A chosen man would be dressed as King and treated like royalty for the day; later he would be publicly killed.  In other lands slaves and slave owners would change role for a day.

For the Roman Church, interest in Paganism was not liked.  After a council, the Church took a date after Winter Solstice, to set aside a special church service to celebrate the birth of a child.

Christmas would eventually become banned.  Many in the highest places of the Church did not like such celebration, calling the celebration immoral and the people lazy.  True Christians did not need more reasons to give thanks to their god and savior.

Christmas would come back, and with a change,  feasts would be shared among strangers.  And later, the caring heart of a Turkish man would spread around the world, giving rise to the image of a jolly man in a red suit delivering gifts to good children around the world.  Harper’s Weekly cartoonist, Thomas Nast has created the image of Santa that we know today.

The image of  Santa Claus is given to Bishop Nicholas of  Smyrna in honor of his known habit of helping people.  He would often toss bags of gold through windows of poor people and give children toys. He would also redistribute items such as gently used clothes, from the rich to the poor.  Bishop Nicholas would later become Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children and seafarers.  Many would acquire the practice of giving gifts for Christmas, along with sharing a festive meal.

Christmas in America did not become official until the act was passed in congress on June 26, 1870.  For much of young America the practice was banned due to the fact that America was suppose to be a safe haven for all religions.  And with so many religions in the new land, how could officials set aside one day for one religion.  In Boston people were fined five shillings for practicing Christmas.   But, there were settlements that had no fuss over the celebration,  Jamestown was one of the settlements that practiced Christmas without incident.

Some people think Christmas was invented to get more people to buy products, items that they probably don’t need.  I say, what is the harm of buying a gift for a loved one, especially when prices have dropped on products.  And yes, holiday shopping is the last effort to help the economy, so that the country may not fail.  Christmas is a day set a side to be with family and if you like, to give a gift.  Most people hardly give gifts or buy things for themselves, and barely see family, most people are too busy working and keeping house.  So I like this fact about Christmas being a day off of work for most to spend time together and to give a gift that they may not buy for their self.

However you may celebrate the holidays around the Winter Solstice, I hope you have a merry celebration.