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Celebrate Traditions For A Merry Christmas, White Plains

The annual Bronxville Christmas Pageant scheduled for Christmas Eve features a Nativity scene with live animals.
The annual Bronxville Christmas Pageant scheduled for Christmas Eve features a Nativity scene with live animals. Photo Credit: Mark Hesseltine at Flickr

Did you know “Jingle Bells” was written originally for a Thanksgiving celebration? Or that 28 percent of Americans regift something they received that they’ll never use or wear? And Santa Claus delivering presents is a tradition that arrived in New York with the Dutch. St. Nicholas’ feast day is celebrated in Holland on Dec. 6.

Christmas fun facts could make nice ice breakers over holiday dinners.

If you’re celebrating Christmas on Friday, you’re like many people in the United States who celebrate Christmas Day on Dec. 25.

The day celebrates Jesus Christ's birth.

Christmas Day is celebrated in many different ways. In the weeks leading up to it, people decorate their homes and put up Christmas trees. They attend church services, exchange presents and celebrate with a family meal to mark the holiday.

It is often combined with customs from pre-Christian winter celebrations.

The original meaning of Christmas is a special church service, or mass, to celebrate the birth of Christ, says timeanddate.com.

And while the Nativity story and the events related to the birth of Jesus are important religious celebrations of Christmas, many traditions that are around today have their roots in pre-Christian winter festivals.

These include the importance of candles and decorations made from evergreen bushes and tree, symbolizing everlasting light and life.

In Roman times, a midwinter festival was held. This was a relaxing time with a lot of parties and merry making.

It was also common to give other people small gifts, such as dolls for children and candles for adults.

This festival culminated with the celebration of the winter solstice, which fell on Dec. 25 in the Roman calendar.

In Scandinavia, a festival called Yule and lasting up to 12 days was held in late December and early January. In this time, people burned logs and held parties. These customs have influenced how Christmas Day is celebrated today in the United States.

Christmas didn’t gain widespread recognition among Christians until quite recently. In some Protestant-dominated areas, such as the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the celebration of Christmas was even legally banned.

As late as the last century, Christmas wasn’t even a legal holiday, according to Warm 106.9 F.M.

This explains why 19th-century readers found it credible that Scrooge could require Cratchit to come to work on Christmas Day and why in the 19th century the U.S. Congress could meet on Christmas Day, the article points out.

Click here for 50 fun facts about Christmas.

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