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Christmas Past and Present

The traditions and celebrations of Christmas have been around for many millennia. However, it was not to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. People have been celebrating the middle of winter for a very long time. People celebrated during the winter solstice because they knew that the worst of winter was behind them and that spring was just around the corner. It was not until the fourth century that the church instituted the birth of Jesus as a holiday.

In the beginning of Christmas, people would attend church and then go to a large festival, but that all changed in the 17th century. In England, Puritan forces took over the crown and decided to get rid of all of the decadence in Christianity. In the process they banned Christmas. The celebration was soon restored as a new ruler took the throne in England, but the pilgrims had already made their way to America. The Pilgrims carried their beliefs with them to the New World. That is why Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until 1870 in the United States.

Although it started off as a religious holiday, it has now transformed itself into both religious and secular holiday. Christmas is a family oriented holiday and now includes countless traditions that have nothing to do with the original Christmas. We decorate Christmas trees, we exchange gifts, we share a meal with friends and family, and most importantly await Santa Clause. Christmas has been a stable holiday around the world for centuries. As Lakewood resident, Annika Mintzlaff, says, “Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love to spend time with my family and friends.”

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