Why the Puritans Cracked Down on Celebrating Christmas

It was less about their asceticism and more about rejecting the world they had fled. Introduction When winter cold settles in across the U.S., the alleged “War on Christmas” heats up. In recent years, department store greeters and Starbucks cups have sparked furor by wishing customers “happy holidays.” This year, with state officials warning of[…]

Saturnalia: The Wild Holiday that Turned Ancient Rome Upside Down

How the Romans celebrated Saturnalia. Happy Saturnalia! This ancient Roman holiday honors Saturn, the god of seed-sowing, and celebrates the promise of a spring harvest. Originally just one day, over the centuries the festivities grew to last a whole week, starting on December 17 and coinciding with the winter solstice.⁠⠀ In Rome, the holiday was[…]

The Top Five Myths about Christmas

Debunking some long-held false notions of the holiday. #1 Myth Retailers Have Ruined Christmas By Commercializing It Until retailers began to see in Christmas the opportunity to market their merchandise the holiday attracted little of the attention it does now. It was retailers who made Christmas exciting. It was they who turned Santa Claus into[…]

The Real Story of ‘Santa Claus’

Behind today’s mythical Santa Claus from the North Pole, is a real saint – St. Nicholas. How he came to be today’s gift-giving jolly figure from the North Pole is a fascinating story by itself. Santa Claus will soon be coming to town, bringing gifts to children. Santa has several aliases, depending on the part of the world you live in. The English call him[…]

How Charles Dickens Set the American Christmas Dinner Table

How did a religious celebration turn into a holiday that is all about home, family, and Christmas dinner? Turns out Charles Dickens has a lot to do with it. By Ellen C. Caldwell / 12.25.2016 How did a smaller religious celebration—once shunned by many American Christians—turn into a holiday season that is all about home, family,[…]

The Holly and the Ivy: Christmas Traditions that Pre-Date the Christian Story

Christmas trees are fairly moden, but parts of the traditional Christmas pre-date Jesus. By Dr. Peter GlavesEnterprise FellowNorthumbria University, Newcastle Every year, almost without thinking about it, we incorporate certain plant species into out Christmas celebrations. The most obvious is the Christmas tree, linked historically in England to Prince Albert – but its use in British homes goes back to at least[…]

What Hanukkah’s Portrayal in Pop Culture Means to American Jews

Hanukkah demands fewer religious rituals than most other Jewish observances. Golden Pixels LLC Despite the primacy of Christmas in American culture, the visibility of Hanukkah in pop culture reminds Jews that they have their own holiday in which they can take pride. By Dr. Ted Merwin / 12.05.2017 Part-Time Associate Professor of Religion Director, The Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life (2001) Dickinson College When I was[…]

How Hannukah Came to America

In the United States, Hanukkah has gained much significance. Tercer Ojo Photography/Shutterstock.com Hanukkah is ranked one of Judaism’s minor festivals. It’s popularity in the U.S. has a lot to do with the country’s history. By Dr. Dianne Ashton / 12.02.2018 Professor of Religion Rowan University Hanukkah may be the best known Jewish holiday in the United States. But despite[…]