Christmas (christ + mass), is an annual  worldwide cultural and commercial event and the chief Christian holiday, Celebrating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a deity whose teachings form the basis of their religion. For many centuries, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.  Customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on December 25 comes from the second century. It is thought the first Christmas celebrations arose from the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice—the return of the sun—and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was a rowdy time.  It has not changed much since.

The Saturnalia began in Rome as early as the third century BC. It was a festival in which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and harvest.. As winter approached, they were losing harvest & were in need of the sun in order for their harvest to grow  and bear fruit.  

In the 4th century The Roman Catholic Church adopted the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Catholic leaders succeeded in converting to “Christianity” large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate their Saturnalia as “Christmas”. The problem was that there was nothing in relation to Christianity concerning Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th,  to be Jesus’ birthday.  By 529 AD, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday.

The celebration of Christmas reached its peak in the medieval period when it became a time for conspicuous consumption and unequaled revelry.