A very merry Christmas history

By Don Rajael, CCNN Writer

Saint Nicholas
An 1850 illustration of Saint Nicolas with his servant Père Fouettard Zwarte Piet, who was said to deliver coal to naughty children.

Every year on December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, who they believe was the Son of God.

According to the Christian faith, Jesus preached love, performed miracles like healing the sick, and died on the cross to forgive mankind’s sins.

Although historians don’t know Jesus’ exact birthday about 2,000 years ago, the Christmas holiday has evolved to include many traditions since his passing.

For example, the Roman Empire used to hold a festival on December 25 in honor of their sun god Sol Invictus, and scholars believe that Christians merged this feast day into a celebration of Jesus.

The modern custom of decorating Christmas trees first began with 16th century German Christians, but tree worship during the winter season dates back thousands of years to non-religious groups called “pagans”.

Even Santa Claus is over a thousand years old, tracing his origins to the 4th-century Saint Nicholas of Myra, who gave gifts to the poor.

Now, Christmas is a major global holiday, where families exchange presents, attend religious services, and decorate their houses with beautiful lights. Featured image courtesy of Jeff Weese on Flickr.