A History of Christmas in America
In the United States of America, Christmas was established as a federal holiday on June 26, 1870. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the man Christians believe is the son of God and the savior of the world. It has its roots in ancient times and is celebrated around the world.
For the first few hundred years after Jesus Christ, his birthday was not celebrated. Instead, Epiphany, when the three kings from separate places of the world visited Christ, was the focus of Christians. The visit of the Magi symbolized that salvation was open to the whole world, not just one select nation. Later, early Church Fathers promoted the idea that the birth of Jesus Christ should be celebrated. December 25, 336, marks the first day Christians officially celebrated the first Christmas on Earth, and it was in the Roman Empire.
The date of Christmas and some American traditions have pagan roots. In the Roman Empire, December 25th was the day of “natalis solis invict” (the Roman birth of the unconquered sun), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness.” Saturnalia, a Roman festival that honored the sun, lasted from December 17th to December 23rd. The winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, also falls a few days before December 25th and had been celebrated by pagans. Early Christian Church leaders believed that days that had been set aside to honor pagan gods could be changed to honor Christianity. It was thought that people would more easily accept Christianity and move away from paganism by replacing pagan celebrations with Christian ones.
The festival of Saturnalia honored the Roman god Saturn. Romans had a public banquet, gifts were exchanged, there was much partying, and servants were served by their masters. Singers performed in streets, and baked cookies shaped like men. While some Christians dislike any association with pagan traditions, Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) wrote, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it."
In Great Britain, Christmas was celebrated until the Puritans, led by Oliver Cromwell, outlawed Christmas in 1645. Puritans believed that celebrating the birth of Christ was a sign of decadence and a disgrace to Christianity. In the English Colonies, the English separatists also believed in worshipping Jesus without ceremonies and made celebrating Christmas a crime.
In the 1800s, Americans' views on Christmas changed a great deal. One author, Washington Irving, wrote fictitious stories of how Christmas had been celebrated in England before the Puritans took over, and some of these stories caught on in American practices. German immigrants brought with them the practice of placing evergreen branches and trees in home during winter as a reminder of life during hard times. And, Catholic immigrants brought the tradition started by Saint Francis of keeping small nativity scenes in their homes. By the late 1800s, most Americans celebrated Christmas. In 1870, President Grant and Congress declared Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, savior of the world, a national holiday.
12/23/2015 03:27:51 pm
I've read numerous articles in recent years that make a good argument against the roman holidays predating the date early Christians chose for Christ's birth. Some early Christians believed that a prophet would die the same day he was born and then it was pointed out that thru should consider conception date rather then birth. Although there isn't enough evidence to know for sure it appears that the early church determined march 25 to be the dates of the crucifixion and then counted forward nine months to determine his birthday.
12/30/2015 07:25:04 am
This was a very interesting article. I always knew WHY we celebrated Christmas but I knew the history behind America's version of this holiday.
6/14/2022 05:30:50 am
As a traditional Catholic, we definitely observe March 25 as the Annunciation ("The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary and she conceived by the Holy Ghost") and as the traditional date of the Crucifixion. March 25 is the earliest or nearly the earliest date that Easter can fall because it is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.
1/4/2016 10:25:18 am
This was a really interesting article. I knew that part of the celebration of Christmas had pagan roots, but I didn't know how we got the tradition of Christmas trees.
12/19/2022 10:39:58 am
why is christmas outlawed
1/6/2016 02:10:51 pm
Interesting history. I never knew that christmas had once been outlawed.
1/6/2016 02:20:13 pm
Christmas has become such an established holiday it's really interesting to hear about it's origins, and to learn that Puritans thought it a disgrace to Christianity.
1/6/2016 02:43:41 pm
Thank you for writing this article it was nice to learn more about the history of Christmas during the holiday season.
1/6/2016 04:21:03 pm
Interesting that Christmas wasn't a huge deal back then compared to what it is now.
12/12/2017 06:24:01 am
the English colonies paragraph mid way down. About ceremonies. sadly we get so taken in by ceremonies that we are focused on those not Christ. I think they are on to something good. drop the ceremonies and worship Jesus, truly worship him deep in your heart. most don't even get past the surface today of what worship is. Maybe Christians are afraid of that depth of love and respect. but they should not be. its what He wants from us.
11/24/2021 10:52:40 am
Jesus said: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matthew 4:10) so we shouldn't infact worship him but Jehovah God. To a Samaritan woman, Jesus described the type of worship that individuals must give to God.
12/23/2022 10:55:43 am
You said, "one early Christian writer commented, 'We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.' Who was it and in what document? I am researching this subject and the people I deal with demand verifiable sources.
12/13/2018 01:09:30 pm
3/4/2021 10:33:53 pm
The Bible Colossians chapter 1:13-18
Desiree Giselle Gonzalez
12/19/2017 08:07:18 pm
I really enjoy reading this amazing article and it was very interesting to me. It was interesting to me because there was a lot of stuff that I did not know about Christmas. This help a lot for my speech that I'm going to do for Christmas . I thought it was very interesting that they did not celebrated Jesus birthday for the first few hundred years.
12/7/2019 10:26:18 am
Any way you spin it, Christmas has nothing factual to do with Christ's birth. If we were told to celebrate it, we would know the actual day of his birth. We do know the actual day of his death according to the Jewish calendar, and we are told to commemorate it. Everything having to do with Christmas is a pagan symbol, and December 25th was a pagan Roman holiday Solstice having to do with the return of the sun. Early Christians did NOT celebrate the birth of Jesus. He lived in heaven with his father, long before coming to Earth.
12/18/2021 05:46:39 am
12/25/2021 01:15:09 pm
Exactly, pagan. Of all days of the year, Yahusha would not have been born on December 25th. The Bible says NOT to worship Yah the way the pagans worship thier god. He takes all those as demon worship. My belief is that he was born on Tabernacles (God dewells with us). Very easy to understand why it was in the late 1800’s before Americans celebrated Christmas.
12/16/2022 07:04:15 am
Couldn't have stated these facts any better myself. I have tried telling people this, but they cling to "Christ Mass" more tightly than allowing the Word, which Yeshua was, AND IS, moreso than allowing the Word to correct them on this, even though all the historical facts are available for us as well. For me, I'll do NOTHING to mix paganism with worship to God. We only need to read Ezekiel 8 to determine just how the Holy God feels about such, and I, for one, am not about to go there!
12/24/2019 04:47:42 am
Jeremiah 10 verse 2 through 4 . This was written long before Jesus came down to Earth to give his life so you may live. It is very plain and undeniable.
12/7/2020 08:14:23 pm
God told the people, ";when you come into this land i give you, dont look around at other countries to see how they worship their gods and do the same things". Well, thats exactly what's happened. That's what the Catholic did and what Christians have done. Exactly what God told them not to do. He gave us his Holy Days and people have ignored them and done what was right in their own eyes.
Tyrone E Delaney
7/19/2021 05:32:39 pm
You are so very correct. To God be the Glory!!!
12/18/2021 05:45:44 am
12/17/2022 05:57:43 pm
The reason why the men of those days could not keep Gods word was why Jesus came. To liberate men from the law and the word is made alive . The word is Christ . Let us do what Christ asked us to do in Matthew 28:19. Leave the rest for the Lord to translate to man. Preach the gospel . We can not win the world by neglecting them. We are in the world to make a difference and still not be of the world, but we cannot win the world if we do t reach out to them where they are. Somebody say Amen!!
12/29/2020 10:11:38 pm
Thank you for writing this article. I’ve read a lot about the origins of Christmas but this clearest and best I’ve read.
1/27/2021 06:55:33 pm
Nearly every denomination of Christianity celebrates the vain and ungodly holidays and traditions but yet still think this is a nation under God. As we can understand how the decoration of the evergreen originated in Babylon as well as December 25 being celebrated as the birthday of pagan deities now we can fully understand why our nation remains corrupt, divided and a warmongering nation. All I can to suggest is stop participating in the occultist holidays and return to what we know as the Jewish holidays because if this nation doesn’t repent and amend with God then it may become the duty of Elias to burn every whorehouse of Baal we call churches to the ground and persecute Christians for their rebellion against God. Yeah they would call such of a person the antichrist but again what would one expect to hear out of a bunch of loons whom are to sorry to research and seek the truth? When Yahshuah warned me about this in 1972 in my second near death experience he stated the duty of every follower is to destroy the churches whom practice these such things therefore at least we can understand why God showed us in the 2020 election that he will not be mocked since Donald Trump didn’t condemn these practices therefore apparently is a sign to our nation.
The Federal Farmer
6/15/2021 03:24:44 pm
12/18/2021 09:09:21 am
Christmas is just a holiday where can Have I be successful
12/18/2021 05:44:00 am
Charles you are so right. Israel tried to worship God the way they wanted. Look what happened to them. Why does the church
What is an insult to God is not celebrating the birth of Jesus but going back into the past and still celebrating Jewish festivals as though Jesus had not fulfilled the old covenant. Jesus is the new covenant we do not need the old Jewish festivals because Jesus completely fulfilled them. Now we rest in him everyday as he is our sabbath. You people worship the sabbath and the old Jewish holidays. Poor Jesus I guess God giving his son on the Cross just was’t enough! Now we have to add to our salvation. I imagine you probably also add water babtism to salvation. That is absolutely ridiculous that Trump lost because he celebrates Xmas. You just keep on keeping your faith in the old Jewish holidays. My faith for my salvation is in Jesus and his death on the Cross. What your doing is spiritual adultery. And yes I do celebrate Xmas and the birth of Jesus.
12/8/2022 01:19:32 pm
God said His holidays belong to Him and that they are to be observed forever. The passover is for the remembrance of the Israelites being Fred from Egypt. Why would the NT nullify that. The apostles still observed God's holidays after the crucification. I agree that sin offerings are no longer necessary but He clearly tells us He hates our holidays. Isaiah 1; Amos 5
12/17/2022 03:20:52 pm
I do not agree with this. Killing and burning churches and Christian’s?! Where do we put” thou shall not kill” Gods law. The world is turning to what we see now, not because people are celebrating the birth of Christ , but because they do not have Christ in their heart. Because they do not have God in their heart and mind, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. That is the Bible . Let us leave the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and preach the gospel. Let us be like Christ . Christ met the woman at the well at the level of her understanding, she became the First Lady evangelist. Jesus met Zacheus at the level where he thinks he is very righteous, Gamaliel was in the temple when the disciples were been punished for preaching the gospel, he said” if this be of God it shall stand”. Let us preach Christ to the people, when the people give their life to Christ, the spirit of God will give them understanding . Many Christian’s never open their mouth to tell of the love of Jesus to the people around them. Many Christian’s want to get to heaven alone. Will you meet your lord empty handed. A soul that is saved will only know the truth and be set free. Let us do the great commission as commanded in the scriptures and leave the inconsequential. If you live righteously whether you rejoice that Christ is born on 25th or not( actually Christian’s should celebrate Christ everyday ) if you are in sin, you are not getting to heaven, because God is too holy to behold iniquity. Use the season to get as many souls as possible into the light of Christ. Condemning the world has not been a solution to the decadence in the world, it has rather allow the devil to get hold of people the more! Preach the gospel of salvation, samctification , deliverance, healing. Spend time in your closet in prayer and worship and let God speak to you . We do not know when the trumpet will sound. Jesus said only his father in heaven knows, not even the Angels knows. Leave the unimportant things and concentrate on how to win these souls to the Lord. God bless.
The Federal Farmer
6/15/2021 03:30:29 pm
"Instead, Epiphany, when the three kings from separate places of the world visited Christ, was the focus of Christians." It always amuses me when layman write of religious texts; it seems they're more likely to cite myth rather than what the text actually says. In this instance, Matthew 2:1 is referenced about the magi visiting the newborn king. Although the Scriptures say they brought as gifts gold, frankincense, and myrrh, it is silent on how many magi in fact greeted the new born Jesus. If they were coming from afar rest assured there more than three.
12/9/2021 06:30:40 am
gghhhhhhhhhhyhyjftiykrsxuiktujl,ykrtidylrhrykyjjhjthgvdfghhhhhhh step bro b
12/18/2021 05:43:38 am
Charles you are so right. We need to do as God instructed. Not as the world wants. God bless
2/10/2022 11:24:24 am
Obama, Do You Want To Join Me At The Party At The White House Tonight?
2/10/2022 11:25:08 am
Yes, Tonight At 7:00 PM.
11/28/2022 08:50:59 am
Christmas is the mass of christ, a roman church tradition from what i, have been told. Christmas, is no where found in the Bible. It is a pagan celebration, as Dec. 25, is the BD of Sol Invictus, the sun. Read Jeremiah 10-1-5, and it tells u not to learn the way of the nations, and tells of the Christmas tree. nearly all pagan gods, claim Dec. 25, as their BD. God tells us to come out of her my children, unless you partake of her sins.
1/2/2023 05:01:58 am
The day or anniversary of one’s birth; in Hebrew, yohm hul·leʹdheth (Ge 40:20) and in Greek, ge·neʹsi·a (Mt 14:6; Mr 6:21).The Hebrews kept records of the year one was born, as the Bible’s genealogical and chronological data reveal. (Nu 1:2, 3; Jos 14:10; 2Ch 31:16, 17) The ages of Levites, priests, and kings were not left to guesswork. (Nu 4:3; 8:23-25; 2Ki 11:21; 15:2; 18:2) This was also true in the case of Jesus.—Lu 2:21, 22, 42; 3:23.According to the Scriptures, the day the baby was born was usually one of rejoicing and thanksgiving on the part of the parents, and rightly so, for “look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.” (Ps 127:3; Jer 20:15; Lu 1:57, 58) However, there is no indication in the Scriptures that faithful worshipers of Jehovah ever indulged in the pagan practice of annually celebrating birthdays
3/1/2023 05:09:47 pm
Thank you for discussing this important topic as more than ever people are struggling with mental health issues, money problems, insecurity, anxiety, various fears, troubled relationship and some sadly are becoming prescription drug addicts as they try to numb and escape the emotional pain within. Meanwhile the unhealthy side effects of drug use are causing many premature deaths. We need the supernatural power of God Almighty more than ever to set the captives free, heal the hurting within and bring total transformation in people's lives. The supernatural power of God with prophetic insight to heal and empower humanity is readily available as I've experienced around the world. Let's join hearts in prayer to believe God to touch, save, change and transform our generation and lift us up to where we belong in Him. ~ Paul F. Davis from https://DreamMakerMinistries.com/
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John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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