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Not long to go now previously a number of us get to spread out some excellent tidings and joy as we commemorate Christmas.
The main methods we understand and mark the event seem to be rather similar throughout the world. It’s about time with community, household, food-sharing, gift-giving and general merry celebrations.
However while Christmas is ostensibly a Christian event of the birth of Jesus, many of the rituals and custom-mades originate from other traditions, both spiritual and nonreligious.
The first Christmas
The journey of Christmas into the celebration we know and acknowledge today is not a straight line.
It is easy to identify the similarities in between our now long-standing Christmas customs and the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, which was also commemorated in December and co-existed with Christian belief for a time period.
Saturnalia placed an emphasis on the sharing of food and drink, and hanging out with enjoyed ones as the colder winter period got here. There is even evidence that the Romans exchanged little presents of food to mark the occasion.
Some individuals still commemorate Saturnalia today with food and drink.Carole Raddato/Flickr, CC BY-SA As Christianity took higher hold in the Roman world and the old polytheistic faith was left, we can see the cultural imprint of Saturnalia customs in the ways in which our popular Christmas events developed themselves throughout the board.
A Yule event
Turning an eye to the Germanic-Scandinavian context also supplies interesting connections. In the Norse faith, Yule was a winter celebration celebrated throughout the period we now approximately associate with December.
The beginning of Yule was marked by the arrival of the Wild Hunt, a spiritual event when the Norse god Odin would ride throughout the sky on his eight-legged white horse.
While the hunt was a frightening sight to behold, it likewise brought excitement for families, and specifically kids, as Odin was known to leave little presents at each home as he rode past.
Like the Roman Saturnalia, Yule was a time of drawing in for the cold weather, during which copious quantities of food and beverage would be consumed.
The Yule celebrations included bringing tree branches inside the home and embellishing them with food and ornaments, likely breaking the ice for the Christmas tree as we know it today.
The embellished Christmas tree can trace its roots back to Northern Europe.Laura LaRose/Flickr, CC BY The influence of Yule on the festive season of Northern European countries is still evident in linguistic expression too, with “Jul” being the word for Christmas in Danish and Norwegian. The English language likewise maintains this connection, by referring to the Christmas period as “Yuletide”.
Here comes Santa
Through the concept of gift-giving, we see the obvious connections in between Odin and Santa Claus, although the latter is somewhat of a popular culture development, as put forward by the well-known poem A Go To from St Nicholas (likewise called The Night Before Christmas), attributed to American poet Clement Clarke Moore in 1837 (although argument continues over who really composed the poem).
The poem was extremely popular and its appeal spread right away, working out beyond the American context and reaching global popularity. The poem provided us much of the staple images we connect with Santa today, including the first ever mention of his reindeer.
But even the figure of Santa Claus is evidence of the constant mix and interacting of traditions, custom-mades and representations.
Santa’s development carries echoes of not only Odin, but also historic figures such as Saint Nicholas of Myra— a fourth-century bishop known for his charitable work– and the legendary Dutch figure of Sinterklaas that stemmed from it.
The Dutch figure Sinterklaas looks a lot like Santa.Hans Splinter/Flickr, CC BY-ND Christmas down under in the summer season The concept of connecting Christmas to winter season celebrations and attracting customs makes one of the most sense in the cooler months of the Northern hemisphere. In the Southern hemisphere, in countries such as New Zealand and Australia, the standard Christmas events have actually evolved into their own specific brand name, which is far more matched to the warmer summertime.
Christmas is an imported event in these areas and functions as a continuous suggestion of the spread of European colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Celebrating Christmas still brings the influence of European contexts, being a time for joviality, gift-giving and neighborhood spirit.
All the exact same, as Christmas falls in the summer season down under, there are likewise various ways to commemorate it in New Zealand and other regions that plainly have nothing to do with winter season celebrations.
Barbecues and beach days are prominent new customs, as obtained practices co-exist with novel methods of adapting the event to a various context.
The wintery Christmas puddings are often exchanged for more summery pavlovas, whose fresh fruit toppings and meringue base certainly befit the warmer season to a higher extent.
The transition to outdoor Christmas events in the Southern hemisphere is undoubtedly locked in good sense because of the warmer weather.
However, it also demonstrates how both cultural and geographical motorists can influence the advancement of celebrating crucial celebrations. And if you really want to experience a cold Christmas down under, there is always a mid-year Christmas in July to look forward to.