I just read this Reuters piece about a new book called “Christmas: A Candid History” by Bruce David Forbes to be published by the University of California Press. The book traces the REAL history of Christmas and reveals some interesting facts like:
- “Christians did not start celebrating the birth of Jesus for 300 years.”
- “that birthday wasn’t on December 25. Historians have been unable to establish when Jesus was born.”
- Christmas started as a “Pagan festival designed to brighten up long, dark winters”
- “Puritans in England and the early New England colonies made the celebration of Christmas illegal in the 1600s.”
- “The focus on gifts did not develop until the late 19th and early 20th centuries”
- Our current version of Santa Claus came from “Coca-Cola advertisements in the 1940s and 1950s.”
- “The modern Christmas tree was introduced by Germany and popularized by Britain’s Queen Victoria in the 19th century.”
- The Christmas of past centuries should not be sentimentalized since it was just “a boisterous seasonal party”
- “The two gospels that relate the birth of Jesus make no mention of a bright shining star, Mary riding to Bethlehem on a donkey, or of oxen or sheep in the manger”
But hey- I think we all knew most of that stuff anyway. It doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the holiday!
Here’s a cute trailer for the book …
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