Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Christmas, the festival commemorating the birth of Christ, seems to have first been of positive observance between 180-190 A.D. Diocletian is reported to have burnt in their church a number of Christians who had assembled to observe Christmas. It has in different times and places been observed at different times of the year; but the actual birth could not have taken place in December, since the rainy season then prevails in Palestine. The feast seems always to have been in greater favour with northern than with southern nations, a fact which may be owing to the wisdom of the Church in fitting its own proper doctrines in with the prevailing worship of the old gods and the powers of nature. The old Yule has come down almost unchanged. The manger songs, dramas and carols which marked the period gradually died away, but the latter have been much revived of late, and in one spot at least the Boar's Head carol with its accompaniments has been handed down in an unbroken line. The old customs of giving presents and of feasting are still in some repute, though the time of the festival is much shortened - it having formerly lasted until Epiphany at least, and sometimes till Candlemas. The Christmas tree is said to have been adopted from the Saturnalia of Pagan Rome, and may have been introduced into Germany by Roman troops. Virgil is said to have alluded to it. The French Noel (natalis) is but the faint shadow of our Christmas. Santa Claus, though associated with Christmas, has his real festival on December 6th. Though much of the Christmas festivities have died out in these gloomy and care-consumed days, the season is generally marked in England by family visits, the exchange of cards, the appearance of magazines, and the production of pantomimes. The Greek, English, and Lutheran Churches mark the day as separate, but in the Presbyterian Church it has little or no place. The Roman Church marks the day by the celebration of three masses, as readers of Alphonse Daudet will remember.