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Origin Of Christmas Traditions

posted Jan 5, 2017, 4:38 AM by Jeffrey Wolf

By: Katherine Alder, Staff Writer

Posted January 5th, 2017

Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but the way Christmas is celebrated today evolved out of the Russian celebration Saturnalia a festival honoring Saturn the god of agriculture on the winter solstice.

Though Christmas is celebrated as the birth of Jesus Christ, no one knows the date, or even the year of his birth. Gift giving is sometimes said to have been started because of the three wise men giving Jesus gifts, others say that it was started because during Saturnalia children were given wax dolls representing human sacrifices that had been given to Saturn in the past as payment for good harvests.

The abbreviation x-mas comes from the Greek letter chi which is represented by an x which is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ.

Christmas carols grew out of the first Christmas hymns, which developed in 4th century Rome, but the first true carols were developed in France, Germany, and Italy during the 13th century. Later on, the songs would become associated primarily with Christmas and sung in numerous churches.

Christmas trees were originally decorated with apples and various other edible decorations rather than lights and ornaments. The first evidence of decorated Christmas trees comes from German craftsman guilds during the Renaissance.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant which perches on a tree branch and absorbs nutrients from the trunk.  The process by which mistletoe became associated with kissing is unknown, but it was first recorded in 16th century England as a very popular practice.