The word “Christmas” means “Mass of Christ,” later shortened to “Christ-Mass.” The even shorter form “Xmas” – first used in Europe in the 1500s – is derived from the Greek alphabet, in which X is the first letter of Christ’s name: Xristos, therefore “X-Mass.”
Today we know that Christ was not born on the 25th of December. The date was chosen to coincide with the pagan Roman celebrations honoring Saturnus (the harvest god) and Mithras (the ancient god of light), a form of sun worship. These celebrations came on or just after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, to announce that winter is not forever, that life continues, and an invitation to stay in good spirit.
But there’s much more to the fascinating history of Christmas! Where did the Christmas tree originate, why are Christmas candles important, etc.? The answers are all here.
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|The history of Christmas
Christmas became popular only fairly recently.
Who is the real Santa Claus?
When was He really born?
|Magi, the gift givers
All kinds of gifts, all kinds of givers. But how many magi were there?
They were hung upside down in the Middle Ages! And when to put up a Christmas tree.
How many versions of Silent Night did you say there are?
They’re quite nice: whose idea was it?
Look a lot like little Christmas cards.
You just have to have some.
It won’t be Christmas without the pudding.
How do they fly and what speed do they reach?
They invented the magic toymaking machine.
It ain’t just for kids, is it?
What really happens when you kiss under the mistletoe?
Why is it called that?
|“Merry Christmas” in different languages||Other festivals over the Christmas season||Solstice: origin of Christmas celebrations.|
The Christmas candy cane, shaped as a shepherds’ crook, represents the humble shepherds who were first to worship the new-born Christ.
Legend has it that the candy cane was invented in 1670 by a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral who handed out the bent sugar sticks among children to keep them quiet during the long Living Crèche ceremony.
AD is short for Anno Domini, or “Year of our Lord,” as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church. Some non-Christians prefer the alternative designation “CE” for “Common Era.”