The Amazing History of Christmas

“‘Twas the night before Christmas and
all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” You probably know what happens next. But do
you know who wrote this poem, and when? Do you know where the tradition of the Christmas
tree comes from? Lights on the Christmas tree? Stockings? Even the idea of gift-giving? No holiday has a richer and more varied tradition
than Christmas. So let’s look into its history and see if we can uncover some of that richness
and tradition. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas—well, at least you’ll have a
better appreciation of why so many people do. Here’s what everybody knows: Christmas is when Christians celebrate the
birthday of Jesus Christ. That in itself is a very big deal. Christianity, in all its
many iterations, remains the most popular religion in the world. Two billion people
follow it. Aside from its obvious religious significance,
the first Christmas stands as the great divide for the recording of human history. Until
recently, history was divided between BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini, which is Latin
for “Year of Our Lord”). Now you’ll often see BCE (Before the Common Era) and
CE (Common Era). No matter. The divide is still Jesus’s birth. The great kings of the first millennium recognized
the significance of the day and attached themselves to it. Charlemagne, Alfred the Great, and
William the Conqueror, among many others, were either baptized or coronated on December
25. The idea of Christmas as a time of gift-giving
also goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. The story is told that a third-century church
bishop, Nicholas, would anonymously throw bags of gold coins into the windows of the
poor. The coins supposedly landed in the shoes or stockings that were drying by the fireplace.
Thus, was the stocking stuffer born. After Nicholas died and was declared a saint, his
popularity and positive Christmas message spread across Europe, each nation adding its
own distinct contribution. In Germany, the winter tradition of placing
evergreens in their homes took on a new significance in the 16th century when Protestant reformer
Martin Luther put candles in the branches. He told his children the lights were like
the sky above Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth. The idea that St. Nicholas would judge whether
you’ve been good or bad during the year stems from the Book of Revelation in the New
Testament, which depicts Christ returning to Earth riding a white horse. In the Middle
Ages, the legend sprang up that Saint Nicholas had been chosen as the Savior’s advance
guard. He wouldn’t come at the end of the world, but every year to check things out
and give a report. When this notion arrived in Norway, it encountered
a problem: there were no horses in Norway. But they did have plenty of reindeer. And,
of course, Norway abuts the Arctic Circle and the North Pole, so St. Nick found himself
with a new domicile. All these various European traditions came
together in the great melting pot of America. In New York in 1823, a professor at the Protestant
Episcopal Seminary, Clement Moore, wrote a poem for his children, ‘Twas the night before
Christmas: “…The stockings were hung by the chimney
with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…” The poem caught on and became a Christmas
staple every school child could recite. The holiday got another push in 1843, when
the great British writer, Charles Dickens, published his short novel, A Christmas Carol.
The redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge perfectly captured what we now refer to as “the Christmas
spirit”: the idea that the holiday brings out the best in all of us. As the new century turned, Hollywood got into
the act. Almost as soon as there were movies, there were movies celebrating Christmas. To
this day, a year doesn’t go by without a new one. Madison Avenue saw a big opportunity, too. 
In 1931, Coca-Cola hired artist Haddon Sundblom to create a Christmas ad of Santa Claus (which
is Dutch for St. Nicholas) drinking Coke. The jolly white-bearded fellow in a bright
red suit remains the personification of Old St. Nick. And, in perfect melting-pot fashion, Irving
Berlin, the son of a rabbi, wrote the definitive yuletide song, “White Christmas.” Many complain today that the religious aspect
of Christmas has been overwhelmed by commerce. Retail sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas
are now $1 trillion. This is not a new complaint. The Puritans refused to celebrate Christmas
because they thought it trivialized the holiday’s religious message. But this remains the minority view. Most people
love Christmas and all the things—the lights, the tree, the songs, the movies, and, yes,
the gifts—that come with it. And who can deny that people tend to act a little nicer,
a little happier, as the special day draws near? In a world that feels so divided, Christmas
still unites us. For that, we should all be grateful. I’m William Federer, author of “There Really
Is a Santa Claus,” for Prager University.

Comments 50


  • love you,bill.

  • Christmas was heavily influenced by Pagans, Romans and others tho.
    Just saying

  • Christmas ads and storefronts are more sterile than ever…forget about the nativity scene…now even santa, reindeer, snowmen,etc are not permitted…only coloured wrapped boxes are allowed…check out Toronto's storefronts…don't want to upset the 3rd world mass migration immigrants.

  • And a lump of coal to YouTube if the restrict access to this video and demonetize it.

  • The Puritans placed a fine on those caught celebrating Christmas because there was no scriptuiral support of the date and of the practice of honoring a birthday and they associated the holiday with its pagan origins and synchronicity religious practices. It was Cartoonis Nast who first claimed the North pole as Santa's base of operation specifically because it was not the property of any one nat9ion but was a point that belonged to all teh people of the world and remained an elusive place to boot. And the Artist behind the Coke add and the coke company has also backed up that the red suite had becpome the standard iconogrophy already and the artistic inspiration fro their santa clause was again Nast HIs interpretation and portrayyaol of Santa as the anti-robber barron who like them was rotund with a bushy beard but instead of making his fortune exploiting otehrs and living in opulance he had a factory that made a product he didnt sell but gives away .And you miss so much that could be said of A Christmas carol that you just leave on the table like the fact that dickens imports some of hhis perfered public policies into the happy traditiona Christmas in LOndon like he supported the markest and bublic ovens remaining open on the holiday so the poor and lower middle classes could still have a warm meal that day without the fuel needed to cook a big meal etc. And he so apreciated the US thanksgiving traditions which where not community and ideosyncratic rituals and mumering nor did it have all the public drunkenness and debauchery but we gathered with family endorsed indulgence of the young and some gift giving and instead of going foor to door extoring drink and sweets we sang around a tabble or a christmas tree at home. The traditional dickens Christmas alos owes a lot to washington Irvings fictional account of spending awinter at an english manor house and describes whjat is supposedly done back in merry old england much of which agaimn liike so much with irving he just invented and we swollowed it hook line and sinker,

  • History of Christmas: winter solstice pagan holiday.

  • Most of the traditions of christmas and even the time frame and Santa come from pagan european religions such as the norse and Celtic religions the Yule for one and Santa is basically Odin or also known as father winter

  • Why yes! Yes, I do know where the Christmas tradition came from. It came from the European Christian movement copying parts of various, already existing pagan winter, and winter solstice traditions, and then rebranding them as their own as a means of making Christianity appear more palatable to those pesky, stubborn pagans, of whom the Christian movement were trying to convert by any means necessary.
    Am I correct, and what's my prize?

  • Ah, the holiday season. A time where liberals get triggered over a single piece of tinsel.

  • How about Christian's stole Dec. 25th from pagan religions just like almost every other religious holiday

  • putting lit candles in dry pine probably wasn't a great idea

  • Norwegians had horses, we even have our own race of horse called fjord horse. So, remember so fact check your stuff lol.

  • old Nick is also another name for satan

  • Santa and satan sound alike

  • It does my heart good to know that it is Christ's birth that inspires the grandest celebration in the American calendar Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

  • Evolutionism is a stupid unscientific religion that ought not to be taught in public schools at taxpayers' expense.

  • Remind your kid to be a good boy in the Christmas so comrade Santa Claus can send you a gift and not a ticket to the Gulag.

  • If you claim to be Christian and believe Christmas is Jesus birthday. Why add Santa Claus to the mix? I've seen Christians put out decorations in their yard with Nativity Scenes and Santa/Reindeer beside it. Seems that Santa is more fun than Jesus.

  • Hi my friends.the day of christmas is a pgan day with pagan traditions.In 25 december it was born, in antik history,the tamuz from idis mother and nimrod.,all they are fals gods,the ball. IT IS WFONG TO CELEBRATE THIS DAY.THE LORD JESUS,IT NOT BORN IN DECEMBER.GOD bless you and yours with wisdom.,but dont forget,the beginning of wisdom is the fear of GOD. I love you all.

  • But christ wasn't born in December.. and you guys forget the holiday of Saturnalia which the Roman celebrated

  • Yeah Jesus wasn’t born at Christmas. It was a way to convert non Christians to Christianity. Christmas was made to replace mid-winter. By not giving up their holidays people were more likely to convert.

  • Ok, so the book of revelations is not the first nor the only literature/legend where people are judged for being good or bad. This tradition stretches back way beyond the middle ages and is common in most folklore, whether christian or not.

    Also, horses have been domesticated in Norway since about 1500-1300 BC, so I'm not quite sure where PU got that part from, but it is definetly incorrect.

  • Alright so let me get this straight:

    Approx 4000 years ago, a tribe of nomads conquered a coastal nation of loosely inter-connected cities, using technology and weapons of war stolen from tombs in Egypt. This new nation later splintered and was destroyed; however, a prophecy stated that the simulacrum of the kingdom's monotheistic god would later incarnate and restore the kingdom's wealth and power.

    2000 years later, an unknown number of occultists, having studied prophecy and legends held at temples across the ancient world, witnessed an unfamiliar star brightly shining in the night sky. Setting out on an epic journey, they sought out the half-man, half-god incarnation, finding him as a child hidden in a barn in a lonely desert province of the Roman empire.

    Meanwhile, far to the north, worship of foreign gods independent of the Greek-based Hellenistic pantheon paid tribute to their gods by sacrificial rites. These rites coincided with the autumn harvests and winter solstice.

    Far to the south in Roman lands, the god of chaos, Saturn, was revered by decorating magical trees in honor of his everlasting power. Worshippers attached golden orbs to evergreen trees to practice this symbolism.

    Thousands of years later, a seemingly insignificant man filled a widow's socks, hung up to dry, with coins as charity for the less fortunate.

    And all this comes together to bring us "Christmas."

    Still not sure where the demonic spirits (elves), fruitcake, or eggnog comes from.

  • No Santa claus is not Dutch for Saint Nic. The Dutch word is Sinterklaas. Get your facts straight Prager U.

  • To the filming director: Please get the speakers to move their head and shoulders. It's hard to tell whether or not this guy was placed on a green screen suit and tie. Some dynamism would feel less staged.

  • Why is there no mention of the Norse and Germanic traditions being incorporated into Christmas? Why does this video not point out how Jesus would have been born any other season besides Winter (Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds residing in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks *BY NIGHT*.) it would have been too cold to do this in the Winter. Evergreens don't grow anywhere near the area Jesus was born. How did the evergreen get associated with Christmas? Why are there so many different holidays centered around the Winter Solstice?

    There's a lot left out in this video,

  • The Dec 25th date was stolen by the pagans, not the other way around. Check out Dr. Michael Heiser’s podcast on the Christmas date. It was Emperor Aurelian who first instituted the Sol Invictus festival, so the pagans took the date from Christians. The church fathers already debated about the Christmas date in the prior centuries. They just back-tracked from Easter to get Christmas around Jan 8, which is Dec 25 in the Gregorian calendar.

  • 4:46 Hey reformed brethren! Do you know what our heroes did?

  • Merry Christmas

  • If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
    2 CHRONICLES 2:14

  • That’s definitely not how Christmas was started, the Catholic’s at the time devised a plan to indoctrinate the pagans to their religion. The holiday actually used to be called Yule, which was a Nordic/ Viking holiday. That is actually why Santa Claus has eight reindeer, to symbolize the eight legged horse Odin rode in their mythology.

  • At about 1:10 the video explains how the calendar marks the birth of Jesus as BC and AD but now we use BCE and CE. This has always seems ridiculous to me. I know it politically correct to discount Christianity's importance in history. The truth is it is entirely nonsensical to not use BC and AD. It is denying reality. If someone has no idea who Jesus was and how important his place in history is, what would they think the is reason that there a point where history is divided? Someone just picked a year arbitrarily for no reason? 'Okay, this is when the Common Era began." Why? People may not believe Jesus was divine or that he even existed, but from a realistic point, his place in human history cannot be denied and to use BCE and CE is just silly.




  • This was the most shallow explanation of Christmas I've ever seen. I'm disappointed. I expect more from this channel.

  • I never regards Christmas as anything amazing but as holiday. Just like other holiday. Especially when parent lied to their children that Santa Claus is real. He's not.

  • Merry Christmas to those who come across this comment in the ocean of comments down here. Have a wonderful rest of the year!

  • It's a Pagan holiday, worshiping a creature instead of the Creator.

  • He really should have went back to the pagen roots of christmas. I am Christian and stopped celebrating after I learned it's TRUE origins. Also read Jeremiah 10:4. Do not learn the way of the nations. Nowhere in our bible does it tell us to celebrate the birth of jesus. It dosent even suggest a season. Scholars have tried to figure it out and cant pin point a season.. I personally will stick to sound doctrine.

  • Let's hope Christianity will die down in the rise of atheism

  • Saint Nicholas was also at the Council of Nicia which was a plan to force all Christians to believe the same things. Anything deviating from it was Heresy and was to be punished swiftly and without mercy. Saint Nicolas was listening to man giving his interpretation of the nature of Christ. One that Nicolas did not agree with and hated…so much so, he got up and punched the speaker. Yep kindly Saint Nick beat up a man he didn't agree with.

  • That's a lie it's a pagan holiday it has nothing to do with Christ!

  • Also Christians hated Christmas at first because of the parties people threw which was considered "Pagan" and in the mind of Church authorities Pagan=Evil. In fact Any belief other than Christianity was "Evil" (sounds like the Left).

  • I was liking this channel until this major lie, this the one lie that this channel has told and since God said nothing about Christmas it's all a lie.


  • Nice story but just not true and missing a lot of important information.
    For further info, read:
    I don't mean to rain on your parade but leaving this story as is, is like keeping the tooth fairy and ah yes Santa Claus lie alive with your children. There is no point.

  • Charles Dickens's a Christmas Carol was actually a social commentary on the common attitude of social darwinism and how it negatively impacted the poor.

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