Christmas and Traditions

Christmas Setting in Germany around 1915
Christmas Setting in Germany around 1915

The Roots of the Feast
Christians celebrate on Christmas the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. The joyous event revolves around the Son of God, being born as a man and sent from God as the redeemer of mankind. The date of Jesus’ birth is not historically reported, as there were no church books and registration of birth at that time. In the 4th Century, the Church designated the 25th of December as Jesus Christ’s date of birth. And now, Christmas has become one of the most celebrated religious holidays of the year. The name “Christmas” comes from the English medieval Feast of the Nativity, called “Christes masse.” The gifts we exchange on Christmas remind us of the gifts of the Three Kings. In Christian interpretation, the giving and receiving of gifts demonstrate charity. Until Christmas was accepted as a festivity, it had to stand up against pagan feasts. Around the year 330, the Emperor Konstantin replaced the God of Sun with the God of the Christians, lux mundi, and declared Christian religion Roman State religion. It is said that Pope Liberius (352-366) first celebrated Christmas at the place of Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome in 354. But it was not until 813 that the 25th of December became a Christian holiday in the old Reich.