At this special season of the year, I hope you are taking the opportunity to enjoy your families and spend time with loved ones, while remembering the most important things in life.
Fun Facts About Christmas
For the first 300 years after Jesus was born, Christians did not celebrate any birthdays. Birthday festivals were for the gods that were invented by people – or for people who liked to think they were gods, such as the pharaohs or kings.
Christmas Day was observed for the first time in 336 AD. Previously, Christmas celebrations were pretty uncommon and usually took place in January, if at all. Many early Christians actually felt that it was immoral to celebrate Christmas, since it was so similar to many pagan celebrations of the time. It only became popularly celebrated in 336 after the Roman leader Constantine made Christianity the religion of the empire.
By the fourth century, church leaders decided that it was important to rejoice in the miracle of God sending his Son into the world as a baby. They picked December 25 as the day to celebrate because it was the time of year when everyone else was having festivals for their sun gods.
Christians backed up their use of the pagan sun and light festival days with Bible verses. The Messiah is described as “the Sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2), and Jesus calls himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12).
The Bible doesn’t say exactly when Jesus was born. Clues in Luke’s story might actually lead to a different time of year for Jesus’ birth. Luke says the shepherds were in the fields at night, watching over their sheep. That would have been unusual for the wintertime. Normally shepherds only stayed in the fields at night during lambing season. Lambs were born in the springtime.
December 25 was originally called the Feast Day of the Nativity, not Christmas.
Most authorities agree that the birthplace of the Christmas carol is Italy where, in the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi promoted the idea of singing during the Christmas season.
St. Francis of Assisi is also credited with being the originator of the Christmas crèche in 1223. The image of the baby lying in a manger surrounded by animals was promoted by Francis and his followers. St. Francis of Assisi set up the first Nativity scene in the town of Grecchio, Italy. The scene consisted of a donkey and an ox with a straw-filled manger between them. St. Francis also held a Christmas mass using the manger as an altar.
Many Protestant reformers rejected the celebration of Christmas, because it was a holiday invented by man and not prescribed in the Bible. The Pilgrims and the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas. Their dim view of what they regarded as pagan revelry or, alternatively, papist idolatry, was so pervasive that over a hundred years later Christmas in New England was a dull affair compared to the festive holiday of New York and the southern colonies.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony banned the celebration of Christmas in 1659. In Massachusetts, anyone who missed school or work on December 25th was subject to a fine of five shillings. The ban also specifically forbade Christmas-related reveling, card-playing, drinking and mirth. The leaders felt that most people did not celebrate Christmas with the gravity it deserved, which led to the "dishounour of God and offence of others." The Massachusetts Christmas ban stayed on the books for 22 years.
The celebration of Christmas gradually made headway in New England. The Massachusetts legislature finally made Christmas a legal holiday in 1856.
The Victorians invented the concept of the white Christmas while reviving the holiday as a secular festival full of sentimentality, good cheer, Santa Claus, and jingle bells.
"Stars and Stripes Forever" was composed on December 25, 1896. John Philip Sousa composed the patriotic anthem in his head while returning from a vacation to Europe. Sousa claimed that the entire march was composed in his head before he ever wrote down one note of it.
The story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was introduced to the public in 1939, as a gift for a department-store Santa to give to the children. Rudolph was created by Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery-Ward. May's creation was originally a short story written in rhyming verse, which he read to his 4-year-old daughter Barbara. Almost two and a half million copies were distributed the first year alone.
The first trial run of the World Wide Web took place on December 25, 1990. The network consisted of two computers and a single server. The prototype had only been in development for two months before the successful trial run. The creators, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau thought of several possible names, including the "Mine of Information" and the "Information Mesh" before settling on "World Wide Web."