I do realise this is getting REALLY off-topic.. Then again, I figured.. Hey, let's do something for the holidays
Anyone ever wondered what christmas was? I mean, putting a tree in your house and making it pretty, a christian tale of jesus being born, a big fat guy in a sled flying through the air with raindeer.. It hardly makes any sense in itself... When you stop to think about it.. Its a general example of something none of us notice anymore because *it has always been there*.
I just decided to look where it came from, some of you will probably already know (some of) this, but if you don't heres a quick summary..
I was gonna write a big list of all the origins etc, but as I was googling for confirmation, I found some already pretty good explanations of most concepts.. I'll paste some selected quotes here..
The christmas tree:
Decorating evergreen trees and boughs can be found in almost every ancient pagan culture. 'Christmas' trees were introduced to the court of Queen Victoria by her husband, Prince Albert. Although it was the custom to decorate live evergreen trees in honor of the Gods, our modern practice of cutting down a tree to bring indoors is a blasphemous desecration of the original concept. The evergreen is one of few plants to remain green even in winter and it is a symbol of life during the season of death. Decorating these trees and branches is a way of celebrating life. They are adorned with lights to encourage and honour the sun, tinsel to encourage the melting of the snow, and the fruits of the harvest to give thanks and to ensure a bounty for the next planting season.
The story of Santa Claus is mostly attributed to the Turkish Saint Nicholas, which is a holiday still celebrated in the Netherlands, Belgium and NW Germany. The dutch settlers brought this tradition to america, where it transformed to its current form. Other noteworthy influences are Father Christmas from England, Kris Kringle from Germany and Father Winter from Russia, among others..
No one knows what day Jesus Christ was born on. From the biblical description, most historians believe that his birth probably occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover. One thing they agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on that night. This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christís birthday as Christmas, on December the 25th?
In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.
In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christís birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.
Of course there are a lot of other strange traditions involved with christmas, but this post is getting big enough, and I dont want to scare people away from reading it. Im sure those interested can google the rest. It's quite interesting to see how it all got basically thrown together in one holiday.
Remember, never just accept what you know. Look at what you've been told, and decide for yourself what is true and what is not.