‘Tis the season to be merry!
hoopla Christmas for Kids collection, where enchanting stories and festive adventures await, creating unforgettable moments of joy and wonder for the whole family to share.
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Learn more about Christmas.
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The origin of celebrating Christmas on December 25th is unknown. However, there are several theories speculating its roots. One explanation ties the celebration to the Roman holiday dies solis invicti nati (the day of the birth of the unconquered sun). This pagan holiday celebrated the winter solstice and the rebirth of spring. Another popular theory identifies March 25th, the spring equinox, as the fourth day of creation and the day of the conception of Jesus – December 25th being nine months later.
The earliest documentation of the celebration of Christmas dates back to the 2nd century, with Christians remembering the birth of the Lord, which was an authentic devotion of ordinary believers. During the Middle Ages, The holiday was celebrated as a public festival that incorporated holly, ivy, and other evergreens. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the celebrations started to include grand dinners and elaborate attire.
Christmas has not always been the popular holiday it is today. Pilgrims who came to America in 1620 had very strict beliefs regarding their faith. For that reason, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. The first Christmas in the New World was spent as a normal working day. From 1659 to 1681, the holiday was outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting “the Christmas spirit” would be fined five shillings.
During the 1680s, Christian Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Lititz, Pennsylvania, were enthusiastic celebrators of the birth of Christ. In fact, the Moravians in Bethlehem owned the first Christmas trees and the first Nativity scene in America. Although the settlers enjoyed their celebrations, Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
The colors associated with Christmas – red, green, and gold – have symbolic meanings.
Red symbolizes the blood shed by Jesus in his crucifixion.
Green, the symbol of the evergreen tree, represents eternal life.
Gold, the first color associated with the holiday, is also associated with the gift of the Magi and symbolizes royalty.
Another Symbol of the Season
While Christmas originated as the celebration of the birth of Jesus, another figure associated with the holiday season can be traced back to Sinterklass (Saint Nicholas), a 4th-century Greek bishop. Saint Nicholas was well-known for caring for children, his generosity, and the giving of gifts. The bishop was the direct inspiration for the famous Santa Claus. The image we know today was created in New York in the 19th century by Washington Irving, Thomas Nast, and other contributors.
Christmas is a religious and cultural celebration for billions of people around the world. Popular customs include:
Advent calendars or wreaths
The exchange of Christmas cards
A special feast
Learn more about the origin of Hanukkah, traditions, and more in our Celebrate Hanukkah blog post!
Learn about the celebration of Kwanzaa, its origins, and more in our Celebrate Kwanzaa blog post!