It’s common knowledge that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth, but the holiday has evolved over the years. The birth of Christ wasn’t even celebrated until the fourth century, when Pope Julius I designated December 25 as the day to honor Jesus’s birth. Though biblical evidence shows Christ may have been born in the spring since the shepherds were herding, it is believed he chose this date in order to absorb the pagan Saturnalia festival, a holiday that celebrated Saturn, the god of Agriculture. This would allow an easier transition for converting pagans and increased popularity of the holiday.
America has its own unique Christmas history. The first pilgrims were Puritans so Christmas was not very popular. In fact, Boston actually outlawed Christmas from 1651-1681. However that was not true across all colonies, as Jamestown celebrated Christmas openly. After the American Revolution, however, the holiday was seen as a British tradition and declined in popularity. It was not until 1870 that it was named an American federal holiday. This was the result of a change in perception, where Christmas was no longer regarded as rambunctious festival, but instead a time of peace and joy surrounded by family. Over the next century, Americans would create their own Christmas traditions incorporating customs from other cultures such as tree decorating, gift giving and holiday cards. Now Christmas has evolved to be a commercial and religious holiday, where 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold annually in the U.S. and the average American spends an average of $786 on holiday shopping.