by Jim Kaness
Christmas trees, Santa Claus, presents, stockings by the fireplace, snow, Scrooge, The Nutcracker and Christmas Carols are all part of Christmas in 21st century America. But, where did they come from and what do they all mean?
To begin with, our American Christmas is really two intermingled parallel celebrations: The birth of Jesus Christ and the Winter Solstice.
Some 2,000 years ago the ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia on 17 December in honor of their god Saturn. The partying expanded to a week-long revelry of gift-giving, role-reversals and other merriment.
Until the reign of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, Romans worshipped their emperor as a god and Christianity was illegal. Some have suggested that the early Christians found it safer to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ while all the Roman Empire was celebrating Saturnalia and thus be "under the radar" and safe from persecution.
The Bible does not say just when Jesus was born. By the fourth century the Roman church settled on 25 December to celebrate "Christ's Mass" or Christmas and so it is today.
Our family will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Whatever your family celebrates, do enjoy the holiday.
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