Dec. 25 Origin
That date, however, is within the Roman Saturnalia holiday. This Winter Solstice carnival was wildly popular (emphasis on wild) in ancient Rome, lots of feasting, flirting, and drinking alcohol (your average Christmas party). As the new religion took root in the Roman Empire it made sense to merge the birthday of their God with the birthday of a new year. Early American Puritans were so disgusted by the pagan origins that they banned celebrating Christmas.
tradition comes from Germany but this is another case of Christianity absorbing a much older pagan tradition. It was a common practice during the winter, especially in pre-Christian Northern Europe, to bring evergreen boughs into homes to provide some signs of life in that dead time.
Germans mercenaries brought the Christmas tree to America during the Revolutionary War. The Christmas tree arrived in England in the 19th century, brought in by their Germanic queen, Victoria.
Saint Nikolas was a Greek monk of the Fourth century and is the patron saint of both Greece and Russia. One of his famous acts was uncovering a butcher who was killing children, curing them in a barrel, and selling the meat as pork (think Sweeney Todd). His gift giving occasion was once throwing coin purses through a window so a hungry man wouldn't have to pimp out his daughters.
|Odin, the Traveler|
The Santa Claus we picture was created by American illustrator Thomas Nast in the 19th century.