Here you will find some interesting things about Christmas leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Hope you are blessed! I transcribed this from a tape on the History of Christmas from Focus On The Family.
200 AD. Some determined that December 25th was the date of Jesus’ birth because by their calculations March 25th was the date of his conception. This was based on the premise that the Messiah’s conception was to coincide with creation, exactly 5,500 years before. This was also to be the time of the crufixion. All three happening on March 25th. The church needed a December celebration to offer head on competition to the sun worshipper’s feast. The church decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. As was later written, “We do not hold this day as holy as worship of the sun, but in honor of the one who made it.”
Between AD 336-337 Rome celebrated Christmas. The Roman Emperor Constantine was baptized uniting the Emperorship and the Church. Christianity became the official state religion.
In AD 354 Biship Liberias of Rome reiterated the importance of acknowledging not only Christ’s death, but also his birth. Though the nativity celebration had to wait until late in the 4th Century to enter the Christian calendar, certain elements of the Christmas celebration were firmly rooted at least one century before.
In the 700’s the custom of a Christmas tree with decorations is believed to have begun in Germany.
In 1050 the first German Christmas carol was written.
In 1223 in Saint Francis of Assisi recreated the birth of Christ using actors. He used a wax figure for the baby Jesus, and life sized actors and staging.
On the morning of Christmas day 1492, Christopher Columbus’ flag ship… the Santa Maria… ran aground off Espanola. He took this accident as a sign from God that He wanted Spaniards to start a colony on this spot. With wood and timbers from the Santa Maria they built fortifications and christened it as The Town of The Nativity.
In 1561 a forced ordinance in Germany stated that… “No one shall have for Christmas more than one bush of more than eight shoes length.” The decorations of that time were paper roses, apples, wafers, gilts, and sugar. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther first added lighted candles to the tree after being inspired while walking through the woods at night, composing a sermon, and seeing the beauty of stars glittering off the evergreens. He duplicated this for his family by adding candles to the Christmas tree.
On Christmas day 1607 it did not seem like Jamestown would succeed as only 38 were left of the original 100 plus pioneers who settled the town in Virginia the previous May. Death from disease and Indians had decimated their ranks, but they still took time to celebrate the birth of Christ and pray. The town did survive and was the first to do so in the new world.
In 1645 Indians at Macaknack, which is now Mackinaw Michigan, met to sing hymns in honor of the new born child. A missionary of the time composed the first American carol called, “Jesus is born,” written to the tune of an old French folk song.
On December 22, 1657 Christmas was abolished by an order of Cromwell’s Puritan Counsel. Minced pies and plumb porridge were outlawed. Two years later in Connecticut there was a law put on the books that forbade both the keeping of Christmas and the making of minced pies. In Massachusetts a similar law was passed and enforced. But in Virginia, pro-Christmas Church of England parishioners defied Oliver Cromwell and maintained their Christmas worship celebrations throughout the colonial period.
In 1659 a decree was issued that formally banned the observance of Christmas with the penalty of five shillings.
In 1706 a Puritan mob broke windows in the Kings Chapel in Boston because Anglican worshippers were holding Christmas services.
More to come about the History of Christmas next week… God willing.