Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality


Borrowed Christmas Traditions

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Santa Claus is a jolly reminder that many of the traditions engaged in during Christmas time were borrowed, maybe never to be returned. The traditions of gift-giving, tree decorating, feasting, and honoring gods, can be traced back to ancient Scandinavia, Germany, and Rome celebrating the winter solstice or New Year.

Movie, Christmas Unwrapped: A History of Christmas documented how, for more years than not, Christmas was a rowdy event. Drinking, indulgence, and carousing went on for days. It was centuries after Christ Jesus’ birth before churches stepped up as participants in the holiday.

Christmas as we see it today was fine-tuned in the 19th century when children were recognized as important during the festivities. The “family” approach tempered the holiday. Christmas carols, stories, and cards also became popular in the 19th century along with the nativity of Christ Jesus as a focal point.

It’s fair to put in a plug for Saint Nicholas―though exorbitantly marketed today―because the spirit of giving has truly been lived by individuals for centuries in many cultures. For example, in the 4th century A.D. Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna lived in what is known today as Turkey. Bishop Nicholas was a wealthy and generous man who loved and gave gifts to children. He was later given the title of Saint Nicholas.

Keeping Christmas in perspective, I hope you all have a blessed Holiday.



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