History of Epiphany: Ends the 12 Days of Christmas?

HISTORY OF EPIPHANY Epiphany occurs in the Christian calendar on January 6. It signifies the event of the Magi, or Wise Men, visiting the baby Jesus, and is known in some Latin cultures as Three Kings Day. In the Eastern (Orthodox and Oriental) churches, it is known as the Feast of Theophany (God Manifest), commemorating Jesus’ baptism with…

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History of Childermas: Feast of the Holy Innocents

HISTORY OF CHILDERMAS Childermas, from an Old English word meaning the Mass of the Infants, is the festival in the church calendar begun in the fifth century — celebrated in the Western Church on December 28 and in the Eastern Church on December 29. It commemorated the date when King Herod ordered the massacre of the…

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5 Christmas Myths, Not Found in the Nativity Story

5 Christmas Myths

5 CHRISTMAS MYTHS: NOT FOUND IN THE NATIVITY STORY I’m often asked to explain the history behind a holiday or the origin of a popular tradition. Is it based on history, tradition, or legend? The best historical sources we have on the birth of Jesus are found in two of the Gospel accounts in the…

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History of Christmas: Caesar Augustus

augustus caesar

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS: CAESAR AUGUSTUS Perhaps it is fitting that our last historical Nativity character in the History of Christmas series should be the first person mentioned in St. Luke‘s story of the first Christmas. But he was not Jewish, nor a shepherd, nor a Magi. Instead, he was 1500 miles away, the Roman emperor, Caesar…

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Is Die Hard Really A Christmas Movie?

die hard

IS DIE HARD REALLY A CHRISTMAS MOVIE? Scholars and historians have debated the question “Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?” for centuries. Or at least during the last three decades since the movie was released. This is why readers have turned to me, your friendly neighborhood historian, to wrestle with this age-old question and help…

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History of Mistletoe: Why is it the Kissing plant?

Mistletoe

HISTORY OF MISTLETOE We’ve mentioned previously that mistletoe was prominent in the traditions of the Druids and the lore of northern Europe. The Druids used the mistletoe of their sacred oak as part of their ritual five days after the new moon following the Winter Solstice. In the Middle Ages, it was hung from ceilings…

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History of the Christmas Star: Natural or supernatural?

Christmas Star

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR The Star of Bethlehem has puzzled scholars for centuries. Some have skeptically dismissed the phenomenon as a myth, a mere literary device to call attention to the importance of the Nativity. Others have argued that the star was miraculously placed there to guide the Magi and is, therefore, beyond all…

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