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Monday, December 25, 2017

In A.D. 350, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ. Probably to co-opt pagan festivals such as Saturnalia (December 17-December 23) and Deus Sol Invictus or Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun (December 25). There is no evidence Christ was born on that day.

Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday, the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations. Christmas wasn't declared an official holiday in the United States until 1870.

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Today's Random Fact:

The first person to decorate a Christmas tree was reportedly the Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). According to legend, he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree, he brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children.

Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means 'little dung twig' because the plant spreads though bird droppings.

Bonus Fact:

Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra (also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker and Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna), who lived during the fourth century. Born in modern-day Turkey, he is the world's most popular non-Biblical saint, and artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint except Mary. He is the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, butchery, sailing, thievery, orphans, royalty, and New York City.

Christmas stockings allegedly evolved from three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry and were, therefore, doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved, however, when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (the precursor to Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.