Christmas is probably the most festive time of the year, a season of gift-giving and celebration. We all know that Christmas is a religious holiday which marks the birth of Jesus Christ. But did you also know that some of the traditions are adapted from rituals dating back to a time before Christianity?
Many pagan peoples regarded the winter solstice as a time of celebration. Anticipating the return of spring, people decorated their homes with evergreen plants, a symbol of eternal life. Mistletoe was especially popular, as it was believed to have magic powers. People hung sprigs of mistletoe in their homes and kissed beneath them as a gesture of friendship. At pagan festivals there was also a lot of singing and dancing going on – “dancing in a circle” is the original meaning of the word “carol”.
Still now we keep these traditions up: we sing Christmas carols and dance around in circles, we kiss beneath the mistletoe and we decorate our homes with Christmas trees. By the way, did you know that it was a German who set the trend of decorating Christmas trees in England?