We are all used to celebrating Jesus Christ’s birthday on December 25 even though some say that this was not the day of his birth. I have long thought that one of the reasons why there were doubts was that there have been many calendar changes through the ages. Basically the thing was that no one was really sure of the day and year of his birth. There was a Christ’s Nativity Festival led by the Church of Rome in 336 A.D.
The most important holiday for early Christians on their calendar was Easter, commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then in the early fourth-century church leaders had trouble with Roman pagan holidays when the winter solstice came. Every winter, Romans would honor the pagan god Saturn, the god of agriculture and the festival started on December 17 and ended about December 25. The festival included merrymaking and people would exchange gifts. During this same time Mithraism – the worship of the ancient Persian god of light – was popular among soldiers in the Roman army.
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In 312 the Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity. To put an end to pagan festivities the church leaders reasoned that since the world was created on the spring equinox in late March and at about that time the Virgin Mary found herself with a child the baby, in this case, Jesus Christ would have been born on the winter solstice. Then from Rome, the Christ’s Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches and soon there was Christmas Day celebrated on December 25.
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The word Christmas was originally entered in the English language as Christes maesse or “Christ’s mass” or festival of Christ in Old English. At this time there was also a popular medieval feast – St. Nicholas of Myra – a saint who visited children with gifts. A derivative of the Dutch name for St. Nicholas – Sinterklaas became Santa Claus.