If one researches the origins of the holiday called Christmas, they might be a bit shocked. It will be found that Christmas is much more a part of tradition rather than religion, an outgrowth from a winter celebration where food and drink were plentiful and work was slim, usually because of weather conditions. In some cultures, this holiday lasted a month. People celebrated their health, good fortune, family, friends and the future.
These celebrations have been oriented around the winter solstice for thousands of years. The Mayans, Europeans, Norseman, Germans and Romans all had their winter feasts for rejoicing what they had and what good fortune would come in the new year.
My favorite is the Norse, who celebrated the Yule from the 21st of December, continuing into January. To recognize the returning of the sun and longer days the fathers and sons brought home huge logs and set them on fire. The party would begin and last until the logs burnt out, which could be as long as 12 days. Hmmm… can you see the 12 days of Christmas?
These celebrations, which eventually evolved into Christmas as a religious holiday, happened long before the birth of Jesus. In the beginning of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday. Some evidence exists in early Christian religious writings that Jesus was born in the spring, so Easter as the main holiday, early on, makes perfect sense.
But the Bible has no direct mention of the birth date of Jesus. It was in the 4th century AD that church officials decided to make the birth of Jesus a holiday, with Pope Julius 1st choosing December 25th as the date.
And thus, Christmas was born. The word Christmas comes from “Christ,” as in “Jesus Christ,” and “Mass,” which means to come together and worship in thanks.
But this is not meant as a history lesson but rather a look at our upbringing and what we were taught in our own homes as children regarding the meaning and value of Christmas.
For me it was about giving thanks, helping those less fortunate and spreading good spirits to all. And that is what I continue to do, especially during the holiday season every year.
My holiday wish for you is that you experience the joy and tradition of Christmas by making someone smile, having the family feast, fun times with friends, giving to the less fortunate and sharing your good spirit. The returns are priceless.
Joel and the Staff