Most people today probably can’t imagine Christmas on any other day than December 25th, however it wasn’t always that way. For the first three centuries , Jesus Christ’s birth wasn’t celebrated at all. The region’s most significant holidays were Epiphany on January 6, which commemorated the arrival of the Magi after Jesus’ birth, and Easter, which celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. The first official mention of December 25 as a holiday honoring Jesus’ birthday appears in an early Roman calendar from 336 A.D. There isn’t any consensus on Jesus’ exact birth date and the Nativity story contains conflicting clues. Church officials decided on December 25, because they wanted the date to coincide with existing pagan festivals honoring Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light). This way Rome’s pagan subjects were more receptive to the idea of accepting Christianity as the empire’s official religion.

Some, including the Puritans of colonial New England, banned the observance of Christmas because they viewed the traditions of offering of gifts and decorating trees as linked to paganism. In the early days of the United States, celebrating of Christmas was considered a British custom and fell out of style following the American Revolution. It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday.

Whatever belief you prescribe to,  these holiday traditionally involve a deep seated meaning to all of us which encompasses giving thanks, sharing, kindness and love. These gifts are free for us all to give as we give thanks to our creator. Please give of yourself this holiday season to those who are less fortunate and above all have a wonderful holiday season.