Christmas is a joyful holiday that is celebrated by millions of people around the world. The highly anticipated holiday has been a tradition for hundreds of years, giving it a rich, deep history.
At Heat Holders, our team loves a good history lesson. That’s why we’ve put together a list of holly-jolly history facts.
For those that aren’t familiar with us, Heat Holders is a thermal clothing company that offers a wide variety of products that can help you stay warm and cozy in your home and on the go.
These products range from high-quality thermal gloves to plush blankets. Our thermal products are made with the highest-quality materials, allowing them to trap in large amounts of warm air for a longer period. Think of them as thermoses for your body!
Not to mention, nothing will keep you warmer on Christmas morning than a pair of Heat Holders thermal socks.
Continue reading to learn more about the history of Christmas.
1 – How Did Christmas Start?
Christmas (as we know it) became a federal holiday shortly after the American Revolution in 1870. However, many people don’t know that past cultures celebrated similar holidays long before the late-1800s.
During the end of winter, early European groups celebrated the arrival of the winter solstice. This celebration signified that the days were going to be longer and that they had overcome the worst of the winter season. In Scandinavia, they called this celebration Yule (which is where the modern term originates from).
Similarly, the Romans celebrated a holiday called Saturnalia. The holiday was meant to honor Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Saturnalia started the week before the winter solstice and continued for an entire month.
There are several similarities between Saturnalia and Christmas, some of the most noticeable being:
- Time off of work
- Homes decorated with festive greenery
2 – Christmas Was Cancelled?!
Yes, it’s true; Christmas was cancelled for over 20 years!
In the mid-1600s, there was a large number of pilgrim separatists living in the early American colonies. These pilgrims were followers of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was a political and military leader who hated decadence and indulgence. One of his primary objectives was to cancel Christmas.
Back in the American colonies, the pilgrim separatists had a large influence over their peers. This led to them eventually cancelling Christmas. The holiday was officially cancelled from 1659 to 1681. Some areas took it a step further and outlawed Christmas celebrations.
However, it is worth noting that the pilgrim separatists didn’t have a problem with families that wanted to celebrate Christmas quietly. But, the separatists did have a problem with people who celebrated Christmas in a rowdy fashion (which was the norm at that time).
3 – Santa Claus
He’s making a list; he’s checking it twice. Yes, everyone loves Santa Claus. The large, old man who slides through chimneys and places presents under your Christmas tree.
Santa Claus is a modern Christmas icon, however, the Santa that we have all come to know and love didn’t get popularized until the 1880s.
Prior to this, Santa was known as Sint Nikolaas or Sinter Klaas. At this point, the holiday icon was based on a real person, a monk named Saint Nicholas. Legend has it that Saint Nicholas gave away his riches to become a wandering Samaritan who helped poor children and sailors.
Today’s Santa Claus has a slightly different story. Many people believe that the first mention of a contemporary Santa is in Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas (more commonly referred to as ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas). This poem also introduced the notion that Santa wears a red suit and fly's in a sled pulled by magic reindeer.
4 – Gifts
There is a long tradition of gift-giving during the Christmas season. This stems from the story of the three wise men, who gifted baby Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
These were gifts that were traditionally given to royalty. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a king or queen to get a gift on Christmas!
Although it may seem unorthodox nowadays, many people used to add a sweet treat to their children’s stockings: oranges. There are several reasons why people would do this.
One of the primary reasons stems from European folklore. According to legend, a man couldn’t find a husband for any of his daughters because he couldn’t afford a dowry.
As a sign of generosity, Santa Claus threw three bags of gold down the man’s chimney. The gold fell into the daughters’ stockings, which were drying by the fire.
To recreate the story (without breaking the bank), some parents will place fresh, tasty oranges in their children’s stockings.
This citrus tradition also stems from the Great Depression (an economic downturn that lasted from 1929 to 1939). During this time, many people couldn’t afford to buy expensive gifts for their children. Instead, parents would give their well-behaved children oranges.
During this time, oranges made great gifts because they were:
- Relatively affordable
- Filled with vitamin D
Nowadays, children tend to expect to find more than a few oranges underneath the tree. If you need some great gift ideas, then you should take a few minutes to scroll through the Heat Holders website. It won’t take long for you to make a huge list of warm socks and thermal products that you want to buy for your friends and family members.
Christmas is a holiday that’s all about giving and sharing; not just with the people that you care about, but also with those who are in need. However, you can’t truly appreciate something if you don’t know about its history! Before you start wrapping your gifts and cooking your turkey, you should take the time to learn about how this holiday came to be.