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Christmas is not new! Celebrating in the United States the day of the birth of Christ, December 25, Christmas has above all a pagan origin!

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Find out how this festival has developed over the centuries to become a must throughout Europe.

A festival with pagan origins

Historians agree that long before Roman times, at the end of December Europe celebrated the long-awaited rebirth of nature and new life expectancy at the winter solstice.

But on the other hand, there is no precision on the ceremonies which took place at that time.

For the Christian religion, the Christmas party did not exist. It is only from the second century that the Church seeks the precise date of the birth of Christ. The date of December 25 was fixed around the year 300 by Rome, in order to Christianize the rites from popular culture. Thus, it was easier to convert the population to Christianity based on secular traditions.

The origins of the word Christmas

The origins of the word Christmas are diverse and controversial. Almost everywhere in Europe, the term has taken on different colours: Christmas in France, Natale in Italy, Natal in Portugal, Navidad in Spain.

Some etymologists claim that this word could come from the Latin natalis dies, which means “day of birth”.

Others claim that the origins of Christmas are Gallic. The term “Christmas” would have as its etymology two Gallic words noio (new) and hel (sun).

In the Middle Ages, Christmas was the cry of joy pushed by the people at the arrival of a happy event.

As always, the major Christian religious festivals and pagan festivals overlap and intertwine, so it is difficult to trace the exact origins of the word Christmas. Especially since the term Christmas is not used in some countries such as Great Britain and Germany which speak of “Christ’s mass” (Christmas) to designate this day. Similarly, in Scandinavian countries, Christmas is translated by the word Jul.

The extension of the Christmas party throughout Europe

With the spread of Christianity, the celebration of Christmas became more and more part of the mores of Europeans. The Christmas holiday spread gradually in Europe and was celebrated from the 5th century in Ireland, in the 7th century in England, and in the 8th century in Germany.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the exchange of gifts became a custom, symbolizing the gifts that the Magi offered to Jesus.

The origin of Santa Claus

Santa Claus is inspired by the character of Saint Nicolas. Moreover, he has the same symbolism as the latter: long white beard, the miter which has become a fur cap… Reindeer hitched to a sled follow him during his travels. Saint Nicolas, he traveled on the back of a donkey.

For Americans, Saint Nicolas is Sinter Klaas who became Santa Claus. In Germany, it is called Santa Claus.

Before spreading to Europe, the character Saint Nicolas was imported to the United States in the 17th century by German or Dutch immigrants, where he would have taken on a commercial scale, undergone clothing and cultural transformations to transform himself into Santa Claus that we currently know. It took on a very convivial and festive image. He then returned to Europe.

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