Things have changed

What we know about Christmas today with its decorated trees, bearded guy in a red suit, elves, stockings, and candy canes, was much different than its original conception. Its history often coincides with neighboring festivities like the winter solstice, which had been the center of celebrations far before Christianity made its way across Europe.

Traditional to solstice

Christmas traditions like hanging evergreen, lighting fires, and gift giving originated from winter solstice celebrations.

Trading places

In the Middle Ages, Christmas was a festival filled with trickery and frivolity. With a nod to the Roman holiday Saturnalia, it was a time where peasants could be kings and vice versa. This tradition led to the “King of Misrule” where a beggar would be crowned king for a day, and celebrants would play his subjects.

That’s only 150 years ago

It might surprise you to know that Christmas has not always been a popular holiday in the United States, and it wasn’t until 1870 that it became an official holiday. Due to more puritanical values, Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681 and you could be fined up to five shillings for being caught celebrating, that’s equivalent to $35 today!

Be good for goodness sake

Santa Claus is also known as Saint Nicholas or Sinter Klaas, and has been part of Christmas lore for almost a millennia. He’s been thought of as the patron saint of children, the poor and the sick, because he shared his abundance with others. In that spirit, Santa Claus in the modern era is known for generosity, rewarding those who are charitable, and spreading good to all humankind. 

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