Updated: May 4, 2021
With the Christmas season in full swing, I wanted to dive into the abyss of the history of this magical holiday. To be honest, I've never educated myself on the subject. But being open minded and accepting of all people, race, and religions has always been important to me and my family...especially nowadays.
We all know the Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a man by the name of Jesus Christ. But how did all of these other traditions become synonymous with the birth of a baby boy around 4 BC? Well through years of celebrations, a mixture of traditions from different parts of the world, and a philanthropic man by the name of Saint Nicholas, here is where these iconic Christmas traditions came from.
Sometime around 280 AD a wealthy man in Turkey named Saint Nicholas decided it was time to help others. He traveled around handing out coins and food to the poor. This idea of charity spread across Europe and it was thousands of years later when Dutch immigrants brought the tradition to America in 1773. By this time the name had also evolved from the Dutch nickname "Sinter Klaas" to an Americanized version "Santa Claus". Parents took a liking to this kind of charity and decided to do the same for their own children. To this day, it is a tradition to give gifts to not only our own family members but to those close to us. From friends and co-workers to people that provide us services year round.
The evergreen tree has been around since the beginning of time. The Romans brought the trees into their homes around the time of the winter solstice as a celebration to Saturn, the god of agriculture. Again this idea continued and evolved for thousands of years. The first decorated Christmas tree came around the time of the 15th century in Germany. The ideas parallel the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. The red ornaments of course are symbolic of the apples that were on the tree. Christmas trees made their way to America by way of Canada in 1781. It was later in 1882 that an employee of the Edison Electric Company, Edward H. Johnson, was the first to put electric lights on the tree. The famous Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting in New York City began in 1931 and was the first public Christmas tree known to date.
The similarities between the basis of Christmas and Hanukkah are eerily similar; to help those less fortunate. Saint Nicholas was on to something and for the most part, has been lost in the commercialization of the modern holiday. We as humans get a sense of joy by simply giving something to someone we love. But we should not stop there, we should give to those whom we have no connection to; have no relationship with. Giving someone the gift of Christmas is as much a gift of hope for a better and brighter future for us all.