The History of Christmas


Mikayla Gillum

For years December 25th was and is a day of celebration for people all around the world but how did it start? What made Christmas what it is today? According to Christmas started centuries before the arrival of Jesus and was a day for celebrating the winter solstice. It wasn’t until the fourth century did it start to be known as the day of Jesus’s birth.  

The Bible does not give a precise date for the birth of Jesus. According to Time and Date it’s unclear when December 25 became associated with the birth of Jesus, “although it may have been around two hundred years after his birth. In the early centuries of Christianity, the anniversary of the birth of Jesus was not a cause for celebrations. The idea of turning this day into a celebration started in the early Middle Ages in Europe.” (

Everyone knows the story of Santa Claus but how did he come to be and what does he have to do with Jesus’s birth? Where did the idea of St. Nick begin?  The idea of Santa Claus was inspired by a monk named St. Nicholas who was born in Turkey back in 280 A.D. He gave all of his inherited wealth to the poor and traveled around helping the poor and the sick. When Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of the death of ‘Sint Nikolaas’ (Dutch for Saint Nicholas), or ‘SinterKlaas’ as he was called for short, the idea of ‘Santa Claus’ was born (“History of Christmas”). 

The tradition of christmas trees was started long before it became a Christmas holiday tradition. It was believed that doing this would keep away witches, spirts, and illnesses. Christmas didn’t enter America until the 1830’s with German settlers. Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.  When queen Victoria was illustrated  next to a Christmas tree in 1846 , it led people by the 1890’s to add Christmas trees into their traditions of Christmas. (“History of Christmas”).  

During a religious reform, Christmas was cancelled! In the early 17th century Oliver Cromwell conquered England and vowed to rid England of decadence and that included Christmas. Anyone who celebrated or even mentioned  Christmas was fined five shillings. After the American Revolution English customs fell out of favor and Christmas didn’t become a federal holiday until June 26th, 1870. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas, in which Americans changed Christmas into a family centered day of peace and nostalgia (“History of Christmas”). 

 Christmas really became a commercialized tradition after World War II.  Joanna Hall-Tomkin of the Christian school, Taunton, states, “After World War II, Christmas became a more commercial holiday. A greater number of stores had Christmas decorations and music. Radio and television programmes featured Christmas-themed episodes. People sent Christmas cards to friends and family, and some went door to door carolling.” These are the kind of Christmas traditions most of us are familar with today. Christmas Day is a mix of religious celebration and commercial interests and time together with family.

Many use the Christmas holiday as a time to celebrate family and friends and prepare for the coming year. However, you celebrate or don’t celebrate the coming holiday season we wish everyone good health and happiness this winter season. 



“History of Christmas”. A & E Television Networks. 8 December 2021 updated. Web Accessed 10 December 2021.

Hall-Tomkin, Joanna. “How Christmas has Changed over the Years.” Taunton School. 15 December 2017. Web Accessed 10 December 2021.

“Christmas Day in the United States.” Time and Date. 2021. Web Accessed 10 December 2021.