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Roman Emperor Constantine’s rule celebrated the first recorded Christmas on December 25th in the year 336. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus was on that same day.
See the fact file below for more information on the History of Christmas or alternatively, you can download our 22-page History of Christmas worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
PUTTING A DATE
- The main reason for the Christmas celebration is Jesus Christ and his birth.
- The New Testament Bible does not indicate the specific date of Jesus’ birth, but a very early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby was March 25th.
- This date was chosen because it was calculated that it was the day Jesus died as an adult (the 14th of Nisan in the Jewish calendar) and they thought that Jesus was born and died on the same day of the year.
- As a main celebration in the Christian liturgical calendar, it follows the season of Advent and ushers in Christmastide, or The Twelve Days of Christmas.
- The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, starts on the 25th of Kislev (December). Hanukkah celebrates when the Jewish people were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple in Jerusalem.
- Jesus was a Jew, so this could be another reason that helped the early Church choose December the 25th for the date of Christmas.
- Saturnalia is the Roman celebration that preceded Christmas.
- The Roman Festival of Saturnalia took place between December 17th and 23rd, and honoured the Roman god Saturn.
- Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means ‘birthday of the unconquered sun’ and was held on December 25th and was the ‘birthday’ of the Pagan Sun god Mithra.
- One widespread explanation for making December 25 as Jesus Christ’s birth was as a way to christianize the pagans.
- Christian writers frequently made the connection between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son.
- In the 4th century, Christian leaders were successful at converting many pagans to Christianity by allowing them to also continue the celebration of Saturnalia. This was its first connection to Jesus’ birth.
YULE CELEBRATION – NORSE “CHRISTMAS”
- Yule was the Norse celebration of the winter solstice. For many years Christians in Scandinavia celebrated both Yule on the solstice and Christmas some days later.
- Soon, the Christian King Haakon I (920-961) of Norway decreed that the Yule celebrations should take place on Christmas Day so that the two celebrations were synchronized.
- Yule traditions are still practiced today, such as the drinking of Wassail. It was a popular Yuletide drink of ale mulled with fruit and spices.
- The Celtic druids say that mistletoe sprigs were cut from the oak trees after Yule and distributed as a protective charm to the faithful. Amongst its many powers, it was believed to grant fertility.
- The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe comes from the Norse legend of the death of Balder. He was shot by a mistletoe arrow and when his mother cried over him, her tears became berries. He was restored to life and his mother made the plant a symbol of love in gratitude.
- To celebrate Christmas, modern practices became popular. But how did it all start?
- Having a Mass at Midnight on Christmas dates back to the early church, when it was believed that Jesus was born at midnight, although there has never been any proof.
- In Victorian times, it was very fashionable to go carol singing with small handbells to play the tune of the carol.
- The custom of sending Christmas cards was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole.
- Boxing Day was started in the UK during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people.
- Earliest records of candles state that they were used for Christmas during the middle ages, where a large candle was used to represent the star of Bethlehem.
- St. Nicholas was a bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). Later on, he became known as Santa Claus.
- The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice as it made them think of the spring time to come.
- In Edwardian times, there would be tea in the servants’ hall followed by a children’s Christmas party. Rich people give gifts to children and slaves.
History of Christmas Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about history of Christmas across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use History of Christmas worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the History of Christmas. Roman Emperor Constantine’s rule celebrated the first recorded Christmas on December 25th in the year 336. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus was on that same day.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Timeline to Christmas
- In the Beginning
- He was Born!
- A Merry Viking Christmas
- Nic & Odin
- Twin Holidays
- Celebrating for Ages
- My Christmas
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Link will appear as History of Christmas Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 6, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.