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The hidden meaning of Christmas

The hidden meaning of Christmas
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Christmas is many people’s favourite holiday, yet most don’t know exactly why we celebrate the way we do. So many of our Christmas symbols have origins in pagan or other religious traditions; so many of the foods we eat (or have heard of but haven’t actually tried) and the customs we follow have surprising histories as well. Read on to find out the history of favourite Christmas traditions, as well as unexpected Christmas info every holiday enthusiast should know.

Does the Bible state when Jesus was born?

Does the Bible state when Jesus was born?
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The Bible does not actually state when Jesus was born. The Gospels leave specific dates and even seasonal references to Jesus’s birth out, but mention shepherds tending their flocks when Jesus was born. This leads some to believe that he was more likely an Aries (spring) than a Capricorn (winter) baby, as spring is the season when lambs tend to be born. Another Christmas story not in the Bible: that Jesus was visited by three kings. In the original writing, the wise men, or magi, came to see him some time after he was born, but a number or names aren’t specified. The number three probably came from the fact that there were three gifts given: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Why we celebrate Christmas on December 25 then?

Why we celebrate Christmas on December 25 then?
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With no date specified in the Bible, Christians debated the topic of Jesus’s birth date for years. They first thought it was January 6, because April 6 was assumed to be the day Jesus died, and there was a corresponding belief that prophets died on the same day as their conception. But by the fourth century, they changed their minds to December 25. Some sources say this new date was purposely chosen to draw attention away from a pagan winter solstice ritual that fell on the same day. Others say that’s not true. All we know for sure is that regardless of the reason why, that date stuck.

Did Christmas dinner used to be illegal?

Did Christmas dinner used to be illegal?
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Yes, it used to be illegal to have Christmas dinner! Talk about a war on Christmas – the Puritans in England and the United States in the 17th century were not fans of the jolly celebration the holiday had started to become. They believed Christmas was frivolous, so they cancelled it, literally: According to the United Kingdom’s official site Historical England, no one was allowed to go to a special church service or even prepare a holiday feast during this period. In the United States, the pilgrims set up the same rules. A 1659 law from the Massachusetts Bay Colony states, “whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labour, feasting, or any other way…every person so offending shall pay of every such offense five shillings.”

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Who’s idea was it to put up Christmas trees?

Who’s idea was it to put up Christmas trees?
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Luckily those laws didn’t last forever, and people went on their merry way decorating for Christmas. But Christmas trees didn’t make their way into homes until the 19th century, when Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, suggested they have one in Buckingham Palace. Although evergreens had been used for winter solstice celebrations since Roman times, German Christians are said to be the first to use them for Christmas decorations, in the 15th century, says History.com. But when the British people saw a drawing of the beloved royals’ Christmas celebration in the Illustrated London News in 1848, according to the BBC, they decided to adopt the German custom as well.

Here are 12 cool traditional Christmas tree alternatives. 

And here’s why we put lights on it…

And here’s why we put lights on it…
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Martin Luther is said to be the first person to put lights on a Christmas tree. Legend has it that he was walking through a forest one night and was moved by the beautiful stars shining through the trees. When he got went home, he recreated what he saw for his family by putting a tree in their living room and placing lighted candles on its branches.

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Why do we leave milk and cookies for Santa?

Why do we leave milk and cookies for Santa?
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This tradition hasn’t changed all that much since it began in medieval Germany. During Yule season, children left out food at night in hopes of getting presents from a different white-bearded guy – Odin, the all-powerful Norse god who traveled on his eight-legged horse Sleipner. The American custom we know today started during the Great Depression. Parents used it as a way to teach their kids that even when money was tight, they still had to be considerate of others and show gratitude for the blessings in their lives.

Check out these amazing cities around the world to celebrate a winter Christmas.

Why do we kiss under mistletoe?

Why do we kiss under mistletoe?
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Norse mythology creeps into Christmas traditions once again. According to legend, the gods used mistletoe to resurrect Odin’s son Baldur from the dead. So Baldur’s mother Frigg, the goddess of love, made the plant a symbol of love and vowed to kiss anyone who passed under it. In 18th century England, men were allowed to kiss any woman standing under mistletoe, and if the ladies refused, that meant bad luck.

Why do we sing Christmas carols?

Why do we sing Christmas carols?
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When Christians began replacing pagan winter festivals with Christmas, bishops across Europe requested certain hymns to be sung at Christmas services. Many composers wanted to write their own carols, but since they were always in Latin, they weren’t terribly popular. Then in 1233, St. Francis of Assisi started putting on Nativity plays, which included canticles that told the story of Christ’s birth. These were usually all in a language that audience members could understand, so they sang along. Since then, Christmas carols have always put listeners into the cheery holiday spirit.

Do wreaths have secret symbolism?

Do wreaths have secret symbolism?
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Many theories exist as to why we hang wreaths at Christmastime, and all likely have some part to play in the tradition. In ancient Greece and Rome, laurel wreaths were given to victors of athletic competitions, and were also marks of honour, according to TIME. In pagan solstice celebrations, the symbol of the circle may have represented the cycle of life and hopeful rebirth of spring. Christians also associate the wreath with Jesus’s crown of thorns, reports the New York Times; they later adapted the wreath for Advent. “The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful,” wrote the Reverend William Saunders in the Arlington Catholic Herald. “The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life…The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolises the eternity of God.”

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