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Christian95's avatar

How did Christmas become the main celebration of the world?

Asked by Christian95 (3260points) December 18th, 2009

Why Christmas?
There are a lot of celebration which imply gift sharing,love etc. and there even more lame religious celebrations.
What made Christmas the winner?
Christmas is so popular ,even non christian countries celebrate it?

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39 Answers

Gossamer's avatar

Its not as wide spread as you think…many countrys dont celebrate christmas in the way Christians celebrate this time of year….

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

No other holiday has as many traditions (decorations, songs, movies, food, gifts, parties, etc.), nor are they extended over as long of a time period. The Christmas season basically begins the day after Thanksgiving, and lasts until New Years. By having an entire month, and so many traditions, how could Christmas not become one of the most popular holidays (at least in the countries where it is widely celebrated)? The amount of gifts given at Christmas can’t be overlooked either. We are a materialistic society, and we get more stuff at Christmas than any other time of year. People really like their stuff.

gggritso's avatar

First of all, I’ll agree with @Gossamer and say that Chrismas (in the American sense) is hardly the most popular celebration, since every culture has their own version. In fact I’d argue that New Years is the most popular, since many cultures on the Gregorian (right?) calendar consider this a significant date.

I will, however, make the point that American culture is infectious, and has spread all over the world. You can see it in the clothes and the streets of European cities. Christmas traditions could easily travel as well.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Only in this part of the world (English speaking developed world). Ramadan, the Haj and Diwali are bigger in other cultures.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Wow. When did that happen? It finally passed New Year’s Eve, huh?

Mat74UK's avatar

If Simon Cowell had his way the main celebration of the world would be his X-Factor final!

Cruiser's avatar

I thought pay-day was the most celebrated day in the world?? Who doesn’t whoop it up on pay-day??? Woo Hoo!!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

In Philppines, the Christmas decorations come out in September! They’ve got everyone beat in tackiness.

Qingu's avatar

Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity for political reasons.

The Romans expanded into northern Europe, where they encountered pagan Saturnalia festivals popular among people there.

They repurposed this festival as “Christ’s mass” to woo over those people to the Roman state religion.

Then centuries later this culture manages to be the first to stumble upon the New World, enslaves a bunch of native and foreign workers to better exploit and transform the land, achieves colonial hegemony in most places of the world, spreading their culture and “Christ’s mass” by force… and wa-la, you have a lot of people who celebrate a pagan holiday with a Christian name slapped on.

Tom47's avatar

Except for one thing. Constantine never became a Christian,..though his mother did. She is “sainted” by the church. And it is not celebrated “all over the world”. Only in predominantly Christian parts. I never saw a Christmas tree in Thailand except on the USAF base where I was stationed. And it is not celebrated on the Indian subcontinent nor anywhere in the Middle East or North Africa. Though there are a few Christians scattered about, any public display of their religion or any other is prohibited in the Islamic states. Few Christmas celebrations would be seen in China, or Indonesia either. So we are talking about less than one third of the world’s population openly celebrating Christmas,..Europe and North and South America, Austrailia-New Zealand, and parts of South Africa.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

i would say it’s not the main one .. but if you mean how did the “christian” christmas get so popular .. well… the same way christianity gets everything else .. through murder , cover ups , theft and lies .. ie; killing off the pagans , stealing their rituals and holiday , inventing a new holiday for the same day to overshadow it , and calling it their own , and selling it to you.

Qingu's avatar

@Tom47, what, you don’t believe Constantine really saw a magic floating cross in the sky? His own biographer Eusebius corroborated the story! Seems just as likely as a dude rising from the dead.

MrJosh's avatar

I’ll bet it has something to do with the British Empire more or less conquering the world. Combined with the fact that so many cultures have celebrations on the solstice, it is simple to incorporate different elements into your holiday.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If by world, you mean America..

justmesuzanne's avatar

It’s the most lucrative.

mattbrowne's avatar

Statistics. Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, is number 2.

AstroChuck's avatar

@Qingu- “The Romans expanded into northern Europe, where they encountered pagan Saturnalia festivals popular among people there.”

Saturnalia was a HUGE Roman festival that lasted for days that led up to December 25. It wasn’t a northern European festival.

Qingu's avatar

@AstroChuck, yis, good catch. And there were other solstice festivals (both Roman and non-Roman) that probably got absorbed into Christmas as well.

texasescimo's avatar

I had read that Constantine was baptized as a professor of Christianity just before his death in the year 337 C.E. But he had claimed to be converted to Christianity years earlier, in the year 312 C.E.

mattbrowne's avatar

The whole beginning of Christianity in the Roman Empire was actually more of a merger with what the Romans had believed in before, like the sun being a god. Every Sun_day is a reminder of our pre-Christian roots. We are celebrating the day of the sun.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@mattbrowne, Not in New England! We should rename it to Rainday…

It’s a standing joke sometimes that when the clouds start to roll in low and gray in the afternoon then someone will ask, “Is it Friday already?” whatever day it happens to be.

Tom47's avatar

@Qingu, No, I don’t think Constantine acually saw a cross in the sky, or was told “By this sign shall ye conquer”. I think he was looking for a unifying religion for the empire…and his mother was a converted Christian. He was a fair to middling emperor, though. I also know of the “death-bed” confession and baptism, but it is irrelevant. It gave the Christian faith legitimacy as opposed to the persecution it had suffered under for centuries. There is also the stigma of Constantine’s having made the faith the “official state religion”. I think this was a mistake. It lead to many abuses. It also made the church a “subject” of the emperor. The emperor now reserved the right to approve or disapprove of the election and ordination of church officials, from priests to bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, the “Pope”. Many believe this was apostasy. I am one who does believe this. So, how did Christianity survive? It survived by faith. The believers continued to hold and profess the faith…regardless of any dictates from the “heirarchy”. Martin Luther was not the first to believe the heirarchy had ceased to have any spiritual authority. But he was the first to have the courage to say so.

mattbrowne's avatar

@CyanoticWasp – Well, rain can be nice too. And it makes the landscape very green. In summer after returning from a vacation in southern Europe it’s always nice to see green meadows in Germany.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@mattbrowne, agreed. I (almost) never complain about weather any more. I can enjoy rainstorms, drizzly damp days, snow, sleet, thunderstorms and fog as much as a beautiful spring day. (Not so much, maybe, when the Red Sox are trying to get in a game at Fenway, but still…)

I spent a year in Southern California at the start of this decade and that cured me of wanting nice weather as a routine. Booooorrrrring! Give me New England’s variation, extremes and unpredictability any time.

The funny part of that that, though, was that when I interviewed for this job in Connecticut (coming from SoCal) in February, 2002, the weather here for about three days was like June: temperatures in the 60s and sun every day. Fantastic weather by nearly anyone’s standards—in February. At the end of the three days I flew back to San Diego… and had to drive through a snowstorm to get home to Temecula. It’s a funny world.

mattbrowne's avatar

@CyanoticWasp – I think this saying originated in England:

There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@mattbrowne, LOL thanks. I will remember that one.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

in canada we have a saying… if you dont like the weather… wait 5 mins

Qingu's avatar

@Tom47, it’s kind of weird that you’re explaining how Christianity “survived” 1,000 years of imperial promotion and spread-by-conquering. That’s a bit like explaining how capitalism “survived” the military success of the United States.

justmesuzanne's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch We say that in Texas, too! :)

texasescimo's avatar

justmesuzanne, my thoughts exactly.

Tom47's avatar

@Qingu, I am talking about the real fath and the truely Christianm not the emperor controlled “church”. There is a difference.

Qingu's avatar

@Tom47, that’s a No True Scotsman fallacy.

Also, whatever your feelings are towards Roman Catholicism, it doesn’t really make sense to argue that Catholicism’s spread and conquest didn’t pave the way for whatever sectarian branch of Christianity you like better to also spread throughout the world.

Tom47's avatar

@Quingu. Certainly not. I don’t argue it. But, you must remember that there was not only a “Protestant” Reformation,. but a Catholic Reformation as well. Much changed in the Catholic Church after the Middle Ages….Many leaders, such as Loyola were most responsible for this. And the separation of church and state had really already begun in Europe by this time. It was not as it is today, but state rulers no longer claimed to rule from permission of the church, nor did the church govern all aspects of secular life and law.

Nullo's avatar

I thought that Saturnalia was a Roman holiday.

Tom47's avatar

@Nullo. Yes, it was,.. but the same celebration…at the same time of year..existed among all European people. Among the Germanic people, it was called Weinachten, and Jul by the Norse, and ‘Yuletide’ among the Angles and Saxons. It was simply a celebration of the winter solstice. The evergreen tree and the lighting of candles to decorate it, etc, was a looking forward to Spring…even in the dead of winter. The evergreens, ..pine, fir, and cedar, do not “die” in winter. Many other things involved with that celebration are retained today, though not clearly understood by most.

Nullo's avatar

The Church had to get people away from the damns-you-to-Hell paganism. But you don’t just up and say, “Look, this pagan festival thing’s gotta go. December 25th is just another workday.” So, they (rather cleverly) found an undated major event in the Christian faith and assigned it to the date. Thus people got their soul-saving faith AND got to keep their festivals.

ragingloli's avatar

By the sword and lots of bloodshed.

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