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Christmas celebrations in history

By Mavis Brown

Mid-winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the coming of the man called Jesus, the initial Europeans celebrated light and birth in the gloomiest days of winter. Many people expressed joy during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was past them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, throughout the month of January. In acknowledgement of the reappearance of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse thought that each spark from the fire signified a new pig or calf  that would be born during the upcoming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were butchered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a stock of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and complete for drinking.

In Germany, people respected and admired the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were frightened of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to monitor his people, and then chose who would prosper or perish. Because of his existence, many people decided to stay inside.
All information used in this article came from the following website: http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas

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