By Bruce David Forbes
DID YOU KNOW
For 3 centuries Christians didn't have a good time Christmas?
Puritans in England and New England made Christmas observances illegal?
St. Nicholas is an elf in the well-known poem "The evening ahead of Christmas"?
President Franklin Roosevelt replaced the dateof Thanksgiving so as to prolong the Christmas purchasing season?
Coca-Cola helped model Santa Claus's glance in an advertisements campaign?
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Additional info for Christmas: A Candid History
An ancient Roman mosaic depicts Dionysius carrying a thin, tapered ﬁr tree, as well as a laurel wreath. The Roman Saturnalia and Kalends both featured greenery, including evergreens. Medieval legends told of magical ﬂowering trees.
The houses were decorated with lights and greenery,” tables overﬂowed with food, and people exchanged gifts. Here is how Libanius, a fourth-century writer, described some features of the celebration: Everywhere may be seen carousals and well-laden tables; luxurious abundance is found in the houses of the rich, but also in the houses of the poor better food than usual is put upon the table. The impulse to spend seizes everyone. He who the whole year through has taken pleasure in saving and piling up his pence, becomes suddenly extravagant.
Thus, when Christians picked up symbols and practices of a newly encountered culture it was not necessarily accidental; as exempliﬁed in Pope Gregory’s letter, it was sometimes a conscious strategy to co-opt local customs and use them ∂ to advance Christian meanings. Whether the Christians knew it or not, they also were inﬂuenced in return. Christianity expanded throughout the world, carrying Christmas with it. In the early medieval period Christianity spread into most of Europe, especially through the inﬂuence of missionary monks and coercion exerted by converted rulers.