History of Christmas & traditions.
The whole of the Western tradition of Christmas is not just a matter
of one or two days of present-giving and family visits, there is a whole
sequence of religious observances, services and so forth which the commercialisation
of Christmas has succeeded in hiding.
As a celebration of some 2000 years of heritage though, of course, it was not really celebrated until some time after the establishment of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism it has picked up a lot of nationalistic and cultural traditions, many of which have been adopted from other local religions and customs.
There is a fairly convincing argument that Christmas itself is based
on the Roman festival of Saturnalia which itself was based on an earlier
Babylonian festival. And that it was a Roman Emperor who decided to mix
the events in order to make it easier for his subjects to call themselves
Christians a kind of spiritual hedging-of-bets.
External cultural influences and the date of the event, being midwinter
in the northern hemisphere, has meant that many of the non-Christian midwinter
traditions have been mixed in. The Father Christmas concept, Christmas
trees in the house, putting objects into Christmas puddings these are
all distinctly non-Christian.
However none of this should be taken as any form of criticism, or even a reason not to celebrate Christmas. The date and traditions are not important; the reason the celebration exists in the first place is.
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