An American Christmas today dramatically different from its origins. As different as day and night.
To understand Christmas as it developed in the United States, one has to understand its European beginnings. Going back many centuries. Even before the birth of Christ.
Christmas is rooted in paganism. Hard to believe. However, true.
Romans were the first to hold a week long party. Involved all kinds of debauchery. Including drinking, sex, and murder.
The Greeks followed with Lucien’s Saturnalia. More despicable. Included human sacrifice. Saturnalia considered the actual predecessor of Christmas.
At some point in time, the Catholic Church desired to increase its numbers. I am not sure of the exact year. Could have been around 1300 A.D.
The Catholic Church negotiated with Saturnalia. An agreement was reached. The pagans joined the Catholic Church based on the Church’s promise the pagans could continue their evil ways. The pagan group that joined became known as the Saturnalia Carnival.
Many Europeans frowned upon Christmas thereafter because of the pagan influence on the holiday.
Which brings us to Christmas on American shores.
The Puritans may be described as America’s earliest Scrooges. They outlawed Christmas because of its pagan base.
Boston outlawed Christmas for the same reason from 1659-1681.
The colonies neither recognized nor practiced Christmas till after the American Revolution.
Whether by the Puritans, Boston, or the colonists, the English influence controlled. Christmas decried in England and on American shores.
Christmas got its first foothold in the Americas following the Revolution. The Americans having won, England’s influence diminished with time.
Acceptance of Christmas from the end of the Revolution to today, a creeping thing growth wise.
Books were a major influence. Washington Irving and Charles Dickens notable authors.
The Civil War exhibited a difference between the North and South not generally known. The South loved and celebrated Christmas. The North paid no attention to Christmas.
Lincoln recognized the difference. He wanted people to know God was on the side of the North also. He had a prominent artist do a painting which became the cover of a national magazine. The picture showed God standing over a Union soldier.
The Sun of New York helped late in the 19th century when it published a response to a letter from a little girl. She had asked if there was a Santa Claus. The response: “Yes. Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Christmas still was not particularly popular in the U.S. Celebrated by some, not by many. World War II was its turning point.
Christmas was celebrated more during the War. However, it took off popularity wise big time following the War. And has continued so since. Victory in war, happiness with no war, whatever. Something ignited America’s enthusiasm for Christmas and it has remained so since.
What I have written this morning is a much shorter version of my blog of December 24, 2015. More detail. Describes pagan activities that are reflected in today’s celebration of Christmas. The Christmas tree and mistletoe being two examples.
The blog is archived by date on my Key West Lou page. www.keywestlou.com. On the right side of the page is the column labeled Archive. Take it from there.
Caution. Two blogs bear the same date 12/24/15. The second is An American Christmas.
Merry Christmas! And if I were Santa Claus on Christmas Eve flying from a rooftop on my reindeer driven sleigh, I shout…..And to all a good night!