Reblogged from Thorne Moore:
I am nicking this post, looking at the history of Christmas, from my business website which won’t be there for much longer (I am officially retired!)
In 350AD the Pope decreed that the feast of Christ’s Nativity should be held on December 25. This was fortunate because in Northern Europe it was essential to find some excuse to celebrate the period of the winter solstice.
Communal feasting, lights, fire, song, dance and traditional ritual helped (and still help) to see people through the depressing time when the days are at their shortest, the nights are at their darkest, and the shadows are at their longest. This is probably why Christmas festivities have survived so strongly in otherwise secular societies, while more significant Christian feasts like Easter have lost their importance in the social calendar.
The Christmas season was a lengthy affair in the Middle Ages, beginning with the festival of St. Nicholas on 6th December and ending with Twelfth Night and the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th). In a time when people relied on good weather and good light to work, there was little to be done except keep warm and make merry. Many animals would have been slaughtered, since little winter fodder was available, and the harvest had been gathered, so food was usually plentiful.
Continue reading at Thorne Moore