So this is Christmas Day
It is raining. It has been raining most of the day. Still, it is Christmas Day.
About 96 percent of Americans say that they celebrate Christmas in one way or another; but Christians didn't start celebrating Christmas until the fourth century A.D. Apparently, the earliest Christians weren't nearly as interested in Jesus' birth as they were in his resurrection from the dead. Historians believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel to be written about Jesus, around 50 A.D., and it doesn't even mention Jesus' birth. It starts with his adult baptism.
Only the Gospels of Luke and Matthew tell the story of Jesus' birth, and they give slightly different accounts. In the Gospel of Luke, an angel appears to Mary to tell her that she will give birth to the Son of God. In the Gospel of Matthew, it is Joseph who learns in a dream that Mary is pregnant with the Son of God.
The Gospel of Luke tells the story of how Mary and Joseph went to the city of Bethlehem because of the Roman census, and since there was no room at the inn, they were forced to take shelter in the barn, where Jesus was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The Gospel of Matthew tells how a group of wise men go to find the baby that has been prophesized as the future king of the Jews. They follow a bright star in the East until they find Jesus, and they offer him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh....
Unfortunately for the church, Saturnalia was usually celebrated with drunken revelry. And for Christians, for the next thousand years or so, Christmas became the wildest party of the year. There were huge feasts and street parties that often led to riots. It was writers who helped turn Christmas into more of a domestic holiday. The poem "The Night Before Christmas," published in 1823, was one of the first works of literature to suggest that Christmas should be focused more on children than adults. And Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol, in 1843, helped popularize the idea that Christmas should be about family.
--from today's The Writer's Almanac
So it is the writers are to blame for the domestication of Christmas? Whether they are or are not, I posted a Christmas Day piece on Write Stuff: All I want for Christmas. Also, Blue Sky Asheville published a personal Christmas essay that you may read here: The nights and days before and after Christmas.
My sister-in-law needs help finishing a 3L bottle of Blush Chablis and some Dutch apple pie. Meantime check out Listless's two favorite Christmas things and Edgy Mama offers a great Christmas meme.