Origins and history of Christmas
The origins of Christmas. From Christianity to Judaism, going through December 25 pagan, here is the story and the true meaning of this feast.
As we all well know, the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated on Christmas day. The one who would then be identified by a large part of the members of the Jewish religion as the Messiah prophesied by the Holy Scriptures. He was born around the years 0-4 in a Bethlehem hut in Judea, now a part of Palestine. Jesus Christ has completely revolutionized the history of humanity and throughout the world. December 25 is celebrated as his coming to Earth. However, for the Eastern Orthodox Churches, this holiday falls on January 6. The day when the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany.
The Jewish origin of Christmas
Christians began to celebrate Christmas Day only around the 4th century AD, relying on already existing traditions and festivities and loading them with a completely new message. Among these, we must certainly mention the Jewish festival of Hannukkah, which commemorates the consecration of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, ordered by Judah Maccabeus after the terrible Hellenic occupation of the IInd century BC who wanted to bring the Jewish people to adopt some practices contrary to their religion. The feast of Hannukkah lasts for 8 days starting from the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev. It usually coincides with the month of December. During these festive days, the Jews usually lit the eight candles of the Chanukiah progressively, to keep faith with the legend that the Maccabees had only one oil flask available to light the Temple candlestick. But, the candles continued to remain lit for 8 days.
Christmas as a pagan feast
In addition to religious ones, Christmas also has pagan and lay origins. The most significant are those related to the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year that the Celts celebrated – erroneously – on December 25th. It is a very important holiday in all those cults in which the adoration of the Sun, called Eliolatria, occupied a position of absolute pre-eminence, and to which Christianity has certainly re-established since the sun can be seen as an emblem of the figure of the Christ.
The Romans instead, in the days just before Christmas, used to celebrate the Saturnalia, dedicated to the settlement in the temple of Saturn, the god of agriculture. To wish for a period of peace and prosperity, it was a custom to exchange gifts.