If you happen to enjoy ripping open presents or gathering around the Christmas tree, you are actually taking part in ancient traditions that date back thousands of years – even before Christianity ever existed! There are many surprising facts about Christmas out there. With everyone’s favorite holiday just around the corner, it’s time to learn more about this merry day!
There are numerous Pagan traditions that we still enact to this day, especially during Christmas. This is normal. It’s a natural consequence of things. Basically, a long time ago church leaders mixed the birth of Jesus with the already existing midwinter festivals. Ever since that moment, Christmas traditions have slowly evolved into their current state today.
Surprising Facts About Christmas
While there are numerous facts out there about Christmas, we’ve decided to focus only on the most relevant ones. We will talk about the pagan origins of Christmas, how the concept of Santa Claus came to be and why we didn’t use to exchange gifts during Christmas until the 1800s. Therefore, if you want to learn more about the most beloved holiday of the year, then keep on reading about the top 4 surprising facts about Christmas below!
Fact No. 1: Christmas has pagan roots
Some people already know that Christmas has pagan roots. While this is true, it would be a mistake to believe that our current Christmas traditions come directly from paganism. However, you would be just as mistaken to say that Christmas is a modern holiday.
What actually happened was Christians spread their religion worldwide. This means that on their path to expansion, they met people living by a variety of creeds. Those were religious and local creeds. Early Christians wanted to kill or convert pagans. They were also fascinated by their traditions. This is why pagan traditions remained despite the expansion of Christianity.
Take, for example, the Christmas tree. This 17th-century invention originated in Germany. Its roots, however, are pagan. They come from the practice of bringing greenery indoors in order to decorate the house during winter.
Santa Claus, on the other hand, is a modern invention. It’s basically a rip off of England’s Father Christmas who did not give gifts originally. However, Father Christmas is a rip off of old pagan ideas about spirits who travel the sky in midwinter.
Fact No. 2: The Church hated Christmas
Most religious people couldn’t imagine Christmas without going to church. So the fact that the Church was slow to embrace this holiday can be quite surprising. Indeed, midwinter festivals did not become Christmas right away. A few centuries would pass until they would become church-approved.
Besides, the bible never gives any references to when Jesus was born. This was never something of interest for early Christians. They never thought they should celebrate his birthday because, in its core, Christianity is a religion of death. What they focused on was his death. This led people to believe that Jesus was a spiritual entity, not a real man. The church considered this belief heretical, so they decided to give Jesus a birthday that the people would celebrate. They decided Christ was born on the same day that the Sun was.
Fact No. 3: Partying away the midwinter blues
A fascinating aspect of humanity is its fixation with partying in midwinter. Historians claim that is a natural time for feasts, especially after the onset of the agricultural society. People would work the fields for almost the whole year. Come fall, they would harvest the fruits of their labor. However, after that, the weather wouldn’t allow them to work or grow new food. And since the harvest was done, there was nothing left to do. As the days grew shorter and the nights longer, people would become depressed and anxious.
This made winter a time when people needed cheering up more than any other time during the year. Especially in the case of people who lived in the parts of the world where winter would have bad weather, snow, and cold temperatures. Midwinter could be a very cold and dark time of the year. In order to avoid negative thoughts, people would celebrate and have feasts. Even nowadays, when we have food, warmth, and electricity, winter holds a lot of power over us. The rate of depression and anxiety grows during the wintertime, putting a lot of people at risk.
Luckily, there are many distractions we can employ nowadays to keep the blues at bay. In the past, however, this wasn’t as easy. So people would gather and feast and party and enjoy each other’s company.
Fact No. 4: Gift-giving is a new tradition
Today, gift-giving is tied to Christmas. So much so that we couldn’t imagine Christmas without it. However, in the past, people would open presents on New Year’s Day. According to historians, people would open them then in order to feel good about as the year would come to an end.
Gift-giving only shifted to Christmas during the 1800s, specifically during the Victorian era. Soon, this gift-giving would lead to excessive consumerism. Today, this excessive consumerism of Christmas shopping has some religious groups frown. They believe it contradicts the goal of Christmas: celebrating Jesus’s birth.
Indeed, the revelry of Christ’s birth was replaced today with excessive spending and gift-giving. It appears Christmas is a phenomenon that is ever-changing!
So there you have it. Our top 4 surprising facts about Christmas. Who knew Christmas, as we know it, is so modern? Yet, at the same time, so ancient, predating Christianity by thousands of years. Human history is certainly interesting and filled with surprises. Regardless of its origins and how it came to be, we hope you will have a wonderful time this year. Happy holidays!