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The Two Christmases: How Did This Divide Happen?

The Two Christmases: How Did This Divide Happen?

Posted February 10th, 2018 by GingerFur

by sub2pewds
in Ireterra

February 10th, 2018

Hi, so this is an essy I had to write on tracking the evolution of something, and I chose Christmas. I'm not exactly looking for CC, because I already turned this in and stuff, and also I don't need a bunch of people telling me that I got some fact wrong.  But, if in good nature, it's still welcome!

Anyway, there used to be pictures, but I couldn't get the format to work. And, I wanted to research and cover more stuff in this essay ( I COULDA WROTE LIKE 10 MORE PAGES ) but we weren't given that long, sooo.

ALso go read 3Levels for some horrible fiction writing: 3Levels 

The next chapter will most likely come out next week.

The Two Christmases: How Did This Divide Happen?

By ME (GingerFur) (not putting real name)

December 13th, 2017



A holiday that can be dated back many years, Christmas, is now also celebrated secularly by people of all beliefs; this evolution developed from what it once was to how it is celebrated now. The origin can be traced from around the year 0 and has evolved with a few major factors like the legends of Santa Claus and other traditions into the two major versions celebrated today, in modern society.

To understand how the holiday has really changed over many centuries, it is necessary to start from the beginning. It is common knowledge that Christmas is centered around the birth of Jesus Christ and worshipping of him. As the story is told, Mary had Jesus in a stable behind an inn, because the inn was occupied. This tale influences many Christian traditions, as they celebrate and recreate the specific scene of his birth, and not just the date. But, it is also true that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, but rather a different time in late fall. The reasoning behind placing the holiday on the 25th relates to an old Pagan festival. Evidently, Christians did not want to be associated with the Pagans, so they decided to have a holiday honoring and worshipping their God on the same day. They also did this because the wanted to muddle the two holidays together so people would start to forget about the Pagan festival and adopt Christianity. Even if it’s not the exact day of Jesus’s birth, Christmas is still an important holiday for many people, and would not be such a large celebration without the followers.

One of several major factors in the development and secularization of Christmas, is the creation and story of Santa Claus. Although this tale has religious origin, it has shifted into something celebrated non-religiously that is supposed to relate back to “the spirit of giving” or happiness, not the Christian church. If this tradition and the “spirit of giving” idea didn’t exist, Christmas might not be celebrated so widely from people of all religions. But, it does have religious, or specifically Christian, roots. St. Nicholas, the monk the legend of Santa Claus is based off of, was born in Turkey in 270 a.d. He became popular for his generosity and kindness, which comes from tales of him giving away his wealth by putting coins or currency in socks that people hung, and saving 3 sisters from being sold. This is why it is told that modern day Santa shows love of children, puts toys in their stockings, and gives them presents. The Santa Claus legend that is passed down from family to family, Christian or not, stands and represents benevolence because of  the Saint that had the quality. The name Santa Claus comes from Sinter Klaas, the Dutch form of Saint Nicholas. The Saint was very idolized in Dutch culture. One example where this is evident is the fact that the Puritans and other early colonists did not carry St. Nicholas traditions with them, but later the Dutch people came to what is now America and brought the traditions back, reviving them there. These traditions include customs like an annual feast on the anniversary of St. Nick’s death, December 6th, and were introduced to Massachusetts and New York. Once in America, there were many people and affecting aspects that popularized the celebrations of St. Nicholas. For Instance, in 1773, New York patriots founded the Sons of St. Nicholas, mainly to counter the British St. George groups, rather than to honor St. Nicholas. But, nonetheless, it still spread and popularized the idea of Santa Claus/St. Nick. Then, in 1804, a member of the New York Historical Society, John Pintard, passed out woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the group's annual meeting. The background showed common modern day Santa images including stockings filled with toys hung up over a fireplace. Another contributing component was in 1809 when St. Nicholas was referenced as the patron of New York in Washington Irving’s book, The History of New York. More works of literature and illustrations about or refering to Santa Claus. He then started to appear in marketing in the early 1900s, with the mission of “bring toys to all the good children of the globe”, but there were still different depictions of what he looked like. In 1931, a Coca Cola advert came out choosing to show the jolly old man in a red suit people now see today. There is also speculation that company chose that version because it matches the colors of the franchise. As Coca Cola is a very mainstream company, this variant became popular and is what is commonly seen modernly. The Santa Claus figure was used even more in marketing from a variety of companies and the legend of this jolly character evolved into what he is present-day.
Another significant aspect of the evolution of this Christian holiday is the innovation of the Christmas tree, something once religious but is currently a tradition also celebrated secularly. Decorating a tree and watching it light up and dazzle when it’s finished brings joy to people all across the world and symbolizes quality family time and cheerfulness. However, the origin is not secular as both tales have Christian elements to them although the creator of the first Christmas tree is still disputed. One side credits Saint Boniface, who is told to have encountered a few Pagans who were going to sacrifice a young child at the trunk of a large tree. He then chopped down the tree to prevent the child’s death and sacrifice altogether, and a new Fir tree grew at the base of the where the tree was cut down. He then told everyone that this evergreen was a holy tree of the Christ child, and a symbol of his promise of everlasting life. This story takes place in Germany, as well as the other popular belief about the origin, that credits Martin Luther. This says the 16th-century Protestant reformer was walking home one winter night and observed stars twinkling among the evergreens. He set up a tree in the main room and wired lighted candles into the branches to recreate the scene for his family, and and also to honor Christ. This also inspired the small lights that now are intertwined with modern trees. The tradition became popular throughout Germany, then was transferred to other places in Europe. Finally, the Christmas tree was popularized in England by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the 1840s - 1850s. The royals decorated a tree, and because of the English citizens’ love for their Queen, replicated her Christmas customs of the Christmas tree with beautiful ornaments. Back in Germany, where the trees originated, they started to experience deforestation because of how popular the trees were and how many were cut down to be sold. Because of this problem, the Addis Brush company started to develop an artificial tree.  After going through a couple of phases (e.g. there was originally a goose feather tree), they completed their creation and invented something more similar to the modern artificial tree around the late 19th century and early 20th century. Then, the artificial Christmas tree became popular in America in the 1960s, and were mass-produced in the late 1900s and early 2000s.  For the people who missed the scent of a real tree, companies made and sold seperate sprays to recreate the forest-y smell. These evolved into the modern artificial christmas tree is widely used for other reasons than deforestation, like leaves shedding, efficiency, or fire hazards. Though, some people still use real trees too, and there are many other variations of Christmas trees.

The origin and evolution of Christmas has influenced traditions that families celebrate today. Anyone can take modern customs and trace how they relate back to religious or secular beginnings. It extremely simple to compare and contrast the modern traditions of these two separate versions. One religious tradition that is largely participated in is “Midnight Mass”. On Christmas Eve/Early Christmas Morning (i.e. at midnight), Christians attend their local Church to say prayers and do the typical church routine, plus more songs of worship or other customs that celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Even if they don’t go to Midnight Mass, some Christians gathering to saying prayers and sing songs that celebrate Christ. Whether it’s gathering in a church or just a family in a living room, this Christian tradition is to say prayers together, and sing songs and tell tales that celebrate Christ, on or near Christmas Day. Another way to celebrate is setting up a nativity scene. This is a model that recreates the scene of the birth of Jesus Christ, and there is usually one or more in a religious celebrator’s home. The main components include: Baby Jesus, Virgin Mary, Joseph, An Angel, Three Wise men, barn animals and a few shepards. Most Christians also celebrate by less religious traditions, too, that don’t directly relate to the birth of Jesus; which consists of customs like stockings, presents, making cookies, and decorating with Christmas colors. A secular Christmas usually includes the things Christians celebrate, minus the church gatherings and religious traditions. This means secular traditions might relate back to celebrating the “spirit of giving” and Santa Claus, instead of Jesus Christ. The secular counterpart is celebrated by Atheists, non-religious people, Universalists, Hindus, Muslims, and anyone who wants to celebrate. One secular example would be stockings. Although stockings originated from St. Nicholas, the modern version is more about the spirit of giving and the legend of Santa Claus. They typically include “stocking stuffers” like socks, other knick knacks, or small candies. While on the subject of something sweet, baking cookies is also a popular Christmas tradition. Its purpose is to provide a delicious snack for the whole family and Santa Claus, for many people set out cookies and milk for him. This is supposedly a form of giving back for all the gifts children receive from Santa Claus, but is also because “Santa Claus will need his energy to deliver presents to the nice children of the entire world,” as the stories say. Another tradition, something done on other holidays as well, is to exchange gifts between family members. It’s a kind thing to bring smiles to people’s faces and shows that “the spirit of giving is what Christmas is all about,” as it’s told.

These two different Christmases are a result of movement and evolution as well as cultural diffusion. Although they are two very contrasting celebrations of separate ideas, one aspect they have in common is they bond groups of people with similar beliefs together for a common goal.



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Person, A. Personal Interview. December 12th, 2017.  (sorry they don’t want their names on here lol)

Person, A. Personal Interview. December 12th, 2017. (sorry they don’t want their names on here lol)

Person, A. Personal Interview. December 12th, 2017. (sorry they don’t want their names on here lol)


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PDClipart. “Nativity Scene Clipart.” clipartlord.com. Clip Art Lord, 2014. http://www.clipartlord.com/2013/04/21/free-nativity-scene-clip-art-2/.


cheese, why are my author notes at the beginning always so long?

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