The holiday season is filled with many traditions and celebrations . . .

The origin of Christmas begins with a miraculous birth in the little town of Bethlehem.  Though the actual date remains an historical mystery, it is celebrated on December 25 thanks to a 4th century pope.

In 350 AD, with Rome slowly converting to Christianity from Paganism, Pope Julius I, declared December 25 the official date of Jesus’ birth. The date was cleverly chosen to coincide with pagan festivals of the winter solstice.

Some pagans, for example, celebrated Yule – a dedication to the Sun God Mithras. Yule, means “wheel” – a pagan symbol for the sun. Today, the word Yule, relates to Christmas, or the Christmas season.

Christmas trees are also rooted in pagan tradition. During the harsh winter live evergreen trees were brought into the home as a reminder that the crops would soon grow again.

Those of the Jewish Faith celebrate Hanukkah during this time of year. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it is an 8 day ritual commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jew’s victory over the Syrians in 165 BC.  In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah means ‘dedication’.

Kwanzaa,  a holiday created in 1966 by Doctor Karenga, a Professor at the California State University, is celebrated by millions of people every year from December 26 to January 1. This non-religious holiday encourages African Americans to remember and embrace their African heritage.

The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, an ancient town in present day Turkey. Known as a kind and generous man dedicated to the welfare of children, his legend grew to mythical proportions after his death. In Holland, he became known as Sinterklass. Every December 5th, Dutch children leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace and Sinterklass fills them with treats. In the 17th century, Dutch immigrants to Amercia brought a variation of the tradition with them and he became known as Santa Claus.

Boxing day, celebrated on December 26, is a holiday only in the Commonwealth Countries. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages when gifts or “Christmas boxes”, were given to less fortunate members of society.

Whatever your beliefs, and however you decide to celebrate, we wish you a happy and safe holiday.

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