By Bruce David Forbes
DID YOU KNOW
For 3 centuries Christians didn't rejoice Christmas?
Puritans in England and New England made Christmas observances illegal?
St. Nicholas is an elf in the recognized poem "The evening sooner than Christmas"?
President Franklin Roosevelt replaced the dateof Thanksgiving so as to extend the Christmas procuring season?
Coca-Cola helped type Santa Claus's glance in an ads campaign?
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Extra info for Christmas: A Candid History
Worship could take on the trappings of royal processions and ceremonies, with vestments and extensive formal liturgies. Christians now had the luxury of publicly debating at length the many intricacies of theology. Christianity was now fully legal, practicing in ∂ the open, and receiving support and encouragement from the government, which hoped that Christianity could help unify the empire. And in its newly public role, Christianity was now in a position to contend openly with its rivals, which included Roman deities and, more important for our story, Roman midwinter parties.
And it happened over and over. The most helpful image for me to represent the process is a snowball. When a family rolls a snowball through the yard, in order to create a snowman or a fort, the growing ball of snow picks up all kinds of things: autumn leaves, a mitten dropped by a child, salt thrown near the sidewalk, and who knows what else. In a similar way, Christmas rolled through Europe and elsewhere in the world, picking up winter customs as it went, incorporating them into Christmas celebrations and also spreading certain customs from one region to another.
In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been. From the beginning, the Church’s hold over Christmas was (and remains still) rather tenuous. There were always people for whom Christmas was a time of pious devotion rather than carnival, but such people were always in the minority. 10 The struggle to keep Christian meanings from being overwhelmed by other elements of winter festivity has continued throughout the entire history of Christmas.
Christmas: A Candid History by Bruce David Forbes