HISTORY OF THE HOLIDAYS
Welcome to this year’s edition of the History of the Holidays. I’m Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian. From now through the Spring or vernal equinox, we celebrate most of the major secular and sacred holidays. This series recounts the backstory, the history behind the major American holidays, some of the minor ones, and a few international ones.
There are lots of articles on Christmas and Easter; there are Jewish ones, secular ones, geek ones, and humorous ones.
Sacred and Secular Holidays
Many of the sacred holidays in our American “Judeo-Christian” heritage have secular associations, while some seemingly secular holidays have religious roots.
One example of the mixture of sacred and secular was that in ancient Rome, the death and resurrection of Attis, the god of vegetation, was celebrated on March 24 and 25, corresponding to the vernal equinox.
In his book The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer points out an interesting coincidence. Among certain Christians in places where the worship of Attis was known, the death of Jesus Christ was also celebrated on March 25, though there was little historical evidence supporting that date. A controversy is said to have raged between the pagan and Christian advocates, each attesting that they had the prior claim.
The Backstory of the Holidays
Many Americans, even religious ones, are unaware of the history behind the holidays. If you are interested in Halloween and how trick or treat became involved, you’ll like this series on the history of the holidays.
If you have ever wondered what the historical events are behind Chanukah, stay tuned.
- Was there a Christmas star?
- Were there really three wise men?
- Was there actually a historical Santa Claus?
Yes, Virginia, this series is for you.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
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