When Was Christmas First Celebrated?

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Before Christ

Early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the dark days of winter. People celebrated during the winter solstice - it was a way to look forward to longer days and more hours of sunlight. It was known as "Yule" in Scandinavia. The men of the house would bring home wood and set them on fire - then the community would have a large feast until the fire burned out. It was a good time of year because much of the livestock would be slaughtered in order to not make them suffer throughout winter.

Saturnalia is the Roman holiday in honor of Saturn - the God of agriculture. It was celebrated in the week leading up to winter solstice when food and drink were plentiful and the whole social norm would be turned upside down (slaves would become masters, etc.).

Birth of Jesus

Christmas became a Christian holiday to commemorate the birth and message of Jesus Christ who was immaculately conceived by the Virgin Mary and born on December 25. It has been celebrated since 354 AD to replace the pagan worship common at the same time of year. It represented a time when you can be together with family and friends to share memories.

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When did Christmas begin? Answering that question depends on what one means by the term "Christmas." If one is referring to the general season of celebration and merriment that takes place around the "holiday season," the answer is sometime in ancient history, with the rise of Winter Solstice. Celebrations around the changing of the seasons, such as the Winter Solstice, can be traced back to the ancient cultures, including the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Persians and Druids. Christianity began in the first century. By the middle of the second century, it had spread throughout the known world. By the fourth, it was well established, having overtaken many pagan religions, including the polytheistic traditions of Rome and Greece. Accordingly, the Winter Solstice festival was overtaken by (and, in some ways, incorporated into) Christmas. more
221 AD is believed to be when Christmas was first celebrated on December 25th. Christ's Mass was the original name. more

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