Updated December 22nd, 2021 at 21:00 IST

How Christmas started in America? Origin, history and significance of the festival

Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world on December 25 and commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Fengyen Chiu
Image: Unsplash | Image:self

Christmas is an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and is primarily observed on December 25. The festival is celebrated by billions of people around the world and is a public holiday in many countries. The exact origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus Christ is still vague and the New Testament provides no indications in this regard. Also, Christmas was not always celebrated on 25 December in the United States until the late 1800s. 

Origin of Christmas 

As per a blog written by John De Gree, titled A History of Christmas in America, In the United States of America, Christmas was established as a federal holiday on June 26, 1870. The church in the early fourth century fixed the date as December 25 and Church Fathers fostered the idea that the birth of Jesus Christ should be commemorated. 

Although there have been several speculations about Christ's birth, early Christians linked Jesus to the Sun through the use of such phrases as "Sun of righteousness." The Romans marked the winter solstice on December 25 and the first recorded Christmas celebration was in Rome on December 25, AD 336.

History of Christmas

Various elements contributed to the picking of December 25 as the date of celebration, it was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar and it was nine months after March 25, the speculated date of the vernal equinox and a date linked to the conception of Jesus Christ. Christmas was banned in Puritan England as it was associated with drunkenness and other misbehaviour but the festival was restored as a legal holiday in England in 1660. 

In the UK, Christmas Day was recognised as a bank holiday in 1834 and the literary artists of 19th century England popularized the idea of Christmas. In 1843, one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens wrote the novel  A Christmas Carol, Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion.

Currently, Christmas is celebrated almost all over the world and Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led to masses to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations, and Christmas trees. 

Image: Unsplash


Published December 22nd, 2021 at 21:00 IST

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