What are the origins of Christmas?
Christmas is an ancient tradition, but where does the word originally come from? Christmas as a word originates from Rome and the words Cristes Maesse, which means ‘Christ’s Mass.’ Originally, Christmas was celebrated by Christians, as a celebration of the birth of Jesus. The word changed from Middle English ‘Christemasse.’ Christmas is sometimes shortened to Xmas, because of the Greek letter X (Chi), sometimes used to abbreviate the word Christ.
Where did Christmas start?
Christmas almost certainly began as a pagan holiday, or the merging of several pagan holidays. In pre-Christian times Saturnalia started the tradition of gift giving and culminated on December 25th. Christmas may also have started from a religion called Mithraism, around the time of the Roman Empire. However, as far as a Christian Christmas goes, 220AD is often mentioned as a start date.
The 25th December has long been associated with the birth of Jesus, yet this idea was popularised by Sextus Julius Africanus in his book, Chronographiai, which many Christians used as a reference book. Although this day was not initially associated with merriment, feasting or celebration, these traditions gradually became a part of what we know and love as Christmas.