Christmas is our favorite celebration of the year. And with Christmas around the corner, chances are that you’re going to attend parties, eat a lot of chicken/turkey, shop for gifts, and maybe set up the Christmas tree at home. But, have you ever asked yourself why we do all these things year in year out? Well, ponder no further because today, we will be looking at why we actually engage in some of Christmas rituals like gifts exchange and Christmas tree decoration.
The act of gift-giving is believed to start in ancient Rome as part of the Saturnalia festival, which paid tribute to the Roman god, Saturn. The Romans celebrated the winter solstice on December 17th, although they did more than just exchange gifts. They also celebrated with festivals and partied until December 23rd in an attempt to exert control over the people.
The Roman emperor Domitian changed the celebration date to December 25th sometime between AD 81 and 96. And when Christianity was made legal in Rome, in the first half of the 4th century AD, some practices of the Saturnalia festival like gift-giving eventually became associated with Christmas. Soon after that, Pope Julius decided that Jesus’s birthday would fall on December 25th, although no one knows the exact date of this birth. In any case, that’s why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, and that’s also why we exchange gifts during Christmas.
Christmas Tree Decorating
So why do we put up a Christmas tree at home? The Christmas tree decoration, still has its roots in the Saturnalia festival, when a certain God was associated with every culture, liberation, and time. So the Romans hung leaves and garlands in their homes around their windows, door frames, and their stairs.
During this time, they often believed that the Sun god was sick during winter, and the sight of the green plants at home reminded them that the Sun god would get better soon, and come back during the summer. However, the Christmas tree that we know of today with its lights and decorations is believed to have started in the 16th century Germany. During that time, German monk Martin Luther was said to have been the first person to have lit candles on a tree.
Still, the Christmas tree decorating habit wasn’t yet popular until 1848 when Queen Victoria of England and her husband Prince Albert were shown standing around one.
So in case you’ve never known how the tradition of exchanging gift and making tree decorations during Christmas came about, above lies your answers!
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