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How Christmas evolved from raucous carnival to domestic holiday

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Fabelhaft in reply to guest-slwsllj

The story seems to place the Christmas we Christians know today, as a ritual of post-Depression. Yet Dickens wrote about a tradition that would've had to have been steeped already, to be as widely accepted as it was in the mid 19th century. Though I see the picture TE paints, albeit exaggerated to minimize the modern holy stuff about Christmas.


Good article.

The History Channel's "Christmas Unwrapped: A History of Christmas" provides an excellent summary of the history of the holiday symbols, and of the evolution of the season from a Mardi Gras-style atmosphere to a time to be with family and friends. It's a good reminder on how you don't have to be religious to enjoy the season.


Dear Sir or Madam,
just an explanation. The true meaning for us catholics is that the word became flesh and lived among us - but (most) of his people did (do) not recognise Him.
Blessed and merry Christmas to all of us - forget the stress, gifts and give to the poor, next door, next to you. That would be a celebration worthwhile to be remembered. Daniel


Professor Leigh Schmidt some years ago wrote a fine book about the celebration of Christmas.

The Puritans tried to keep Christmas and all of Christian holidays completely in the sado-masochistic realm of early Christianity but human nature prevailed. We now celebrate a holiday which has nothing to do with Jesus, but since our beliefs about Jesus are entirely fictional, based on gentile misunderstanding of Jewish apocalypticism, our way of celebrating Christmas is just as good as any other.

For the most part Christmas is good for business. That's all.

Michael Dunne

Nice, interesting piece to read.
As it was once put by an acquaintance in England: "Christmas was for dads."
Now "particularly nasty Christmas riots" on a regular, large-scale basis, in towns small and large across the land, could raise the need to change practices/customs, to constrain "anti-social behavior."
Any statistics on incidents in England between say 1815 and 1850 (from the end of the Napoleonic Wars, to a period following the first Christmas card)? Like were there a couple of hundred riots involving mobs of more than 50 men every year?


@guest-ajemnise: Good point that you start on. Christmas---as we know it today---is really just an extension of Saturnalia (Feast of Saturn), which is an allegory for the festival, as Rome became increasingly Christian-leaning in the the early 4th century. The majority of Christian festivals are really just amalgamations of various rites and rituals from ancient religions and cultures. Nothing sinister there. That's simply how society evolves over the millennia.

Michael Dunne in reply to GWWT

So which festivals come from which prior rites/rituals, excluding Judaism?
Sunday may have been a tradition of early Christians, and was formalized by Constantine (although the "day of the Sun" was quite un-Christian).
Key festivals/celebrations are around Easter, with Lent/Ash Wednesday, Holy Week/Palm Sunday, Easter, the Pentecost, the Ascension.


Just promote peace and goodwill to all at this time of year. It is basically a pagan celebration with the turning of the winter solstices with the sun headed towards spring which has been assimilated into other belief systems but even that does hold globally as in the southern hemisphere it is the beginning of summer. It is time, no matter what beliefs one may have, to hope for understanding amongst all peoples of earth.