A Brief History of Christmas
There is no doubt that Christmas is among the greatest religious holidays in the Western world. Actually the majority of people consider it to be the most highly anticipated and marketed one. As you probably know, the name of the holiday means 'Christ's Mass' and it is surely the most important holiday in Christian's calendar as it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. According to the Hebrew Old Testament Christ was the saviour of the Jews.
All the people around the world celebrate Christmas in different ways. Presumably, the most popular traditions are those coming from Americans and British. They involve gift giving and the figure of Santa Claus which is partly based on historical records of Saint Nicholas, a generous man with round belly and red cheeks.
The holiday of Christmas has a huge economic impact on the countries celebrating it as the Christmas tradition involves gift giving between family members, friends and loved ones. Those countries with a significant Christian population celebrate the holiday in masse, while many other countries pay more attention to the tradition of gift giving and neglect the religious side of the event.
Even though the exact date of the birth of Christ is not known for certain, Christmas is annually celebrated on the 25th of December. It is supposed that during the time of the Roman Empire of the 4th century AD Christmas became an important Christian holiday and in the second half of the century Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire, just before it split into Western and Eastern empires.
It is widely accepted that Christmas was chosen to be celebrated on the 25th of December because this was a way to unite the old Pagan traditions with the new Christian ones. Romans are known to have commemorated the god Saturn with a special holiday which they called Saturnalia. This seven-day holiday began on the 17th of December and ended with the winter solstice which was then celebrated on the 25th of December. This holiday initiated the traditional gift giving on Christmas today.
Another god that the Romans worshipped before they adopted the religion of Christianity was called 'Sol Invictus' or the 'invincible sun god' a deity with Persian origin who was believed to be born on the winter solstice. Having such old beliefs and traditions Romans found it easy to convert to Christianity.