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The history of Christmas

Banks, schools, courthouses and other government buildings will be closed today.

December 25 is Christmas. An event that began in a manger in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, is celebrated as a state and federal holiday today.

According to the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem during the reign of Emperor Caesar Augustus. The event was celebrated by angels who spoke to shepherds in the neighboring fields. They then paid their respects to the blessed infant. According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, at some point later (whether that was days, weeks, or years later is still argued by Biblical scholars) three magi, wisemen, or even kings came to pay their respects to the child and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (gifts worthy of royalty).

The Angel Gabriel told Mary: “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

Christians believe that Jesus is their savior and that Jesus is God made flesh.

“For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him.” (John 3:16-17)

There is nothing in the Gospel account that would tell us that Jesus was born on Dec. 25, but over time, that became the day of the year that most Christians celebrate His birth. The Feast of Christmas has been celebrated since at least 200 A.D.

Since the Fourth Century nativity scenes were found in Christian Churches. St. Francis of Assisi made the little nativity scenes so popular in 1223 that many Christians began having them even in their homes over the holiday. Over time, the decorations, gift-giving and feasting became a celebration almost to themselves.

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Alabama was the first state in the nation to make Christmas an official holiday. That has since spread across all fifty states and federally. Banks, schools, courthouses and other government buildings will be closed, as well as many private businesses.

Christmas in contemporary times is partly a religious celebration of a savior born in a manger over 2,000 years ago in Roman-occupied Judea, partly a materialistic American display of wealth and partly a celebration of all things family.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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