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Merry Christmas

Christmas. The very word brings images of men in red suits, festive decorations, and presents to mind. Christmas alone brings warmth, joy and cheer to millions of people throughout the world. But, as revered as the holiday is, how many people know of its origin. Aside from the birth of Jesus, how much do we really know about Christmas, and it’s story?

Long before the arrival of Jesus, Europeans had celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. People rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them. Finally they could look forward to longer days and a warmer sun. Late December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. During that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered to lower feasting feeding costs throughout the winter. For most farmers, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. Not only that, but most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

The first recorded date of Christmas was celebrated on December 25th, was in 336 AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that, the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December. However, there are many different traditions and theories as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. A very early Christian tradition said that, the day when Mary was told she would have a very special baby, Jesus, was on March 25th – and it’s still celebrated today on the 25th of March. Nine months after the 25th of March is the 25th of December! March 25th was also the day some early Christians thought the world had been made, and also the day that Jesus died, when he was an adult.

The date of March 25th was chosen because people had calculated that it was the day on which Jesus died as an adult and they thought that Jesus was born and also died on the same day of the year. There’s a strong and practical reason why Jesus might not have been born in the winter, but in the spring or the autumn! It can get very cold in the winter and it’s unlikely that the shepherds would have been keeping sheep out on the hills.

While some people also think that December 25th might have been chosen because the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals, called ‘Saturnalia’ and ‘Dies Natalis Solis Invicti’ took place in December around this date – so it was a time when people already celebrated things. The Winter Solstice is the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting. It happens on December 21st or 22nd. To pagans this meant that the winter was over and spring was coming and they had a festival to celebrate it and worshipped the sun for winning over the darkness of winter.

Aside from the birth of Jesus, Christmas has been known to spark up other folk stories. Other tales of a fat rose colored cheek man dressed in all white. A man known as “Santa Claus”. St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. One of the most famous, and most original stories of how Saint Nicholas became Santa Claus goes as follows: There was a poor man who had three daughters. The man was so poor that he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas. Stories spread and eventually evolved to the ones we know now. The one where he sees you when you’re sleeping. And knows when you’re awake. The one where he knows if you’ve been bad or good. So it’s best to be good, for goodness sake.

Christmas is a celebration that has lived on for centuries. It encompasses all of what is meant to be good in the world. Happiness, joy, cheer, charity. It’s been a symbol of hope and of love. A day where we stop thinking about ourselves, and think about the people we care about. A time where we can fill a child’s eyes with happiness and wonder. A day where we as people can truly take in and experience the magic that this wonder filled holiday has to offer. From everyone at the 305. Merry Christmas. And a happy new year.

Written by: Vick Fonseca IG: Flying.graysons

Edited by: Javier Vasallo IG: @Pride55

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