Yuletide has Christmas oddities

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Christmas does have a few oddities.
For example, say these words out loud: Jesus. Christ.
OK. Now say, Christmas. What’s that? Did you say Crissmuss?

Well, everybody does, probably because that was the pronunciation of this Old English contraction: Christes Maese. Or mass of Christ.

Now, consider some of these favorite carols. Take the one that begins:

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright …

And where does it go from there? Hmm?
You might be surprised at how much you remember of this carol .

Try another?
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie …

Now try one that crooner Bing Crosby made popular.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know …

Now that you’ve refreshed yourself and you’re in the spirit, back to oddities.
Did you know that the first celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 was in 336 AD?

That was after Emperor Constantine declared Christianity was the Roman Empire’s “most favored” religion.

Hundreds of years later, however, following the Protestant revolt against the Roman Catholic Church, Christmas became a forbidden celebration. The Puritans were against it. And it took a long time in the United States for Christmas to become popular.

Some states made Christmas a holiday, but it wasn’t until 1870 that Congress first made “the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day,” a holiday – but only within the District of Columbia.

Later, in 1885, by a joint resolution of Congress, federal employees were granted the Christmas holiday. And finally in 1894, Christmas became a public holiday, a federal public holiday, not a national public holiday.

The states had preceded the federal government and today, two states,Arkansas and Wisconsin, have made Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, a holiday, and five states, Kentucky, Michigan, North and South Carolina, and Virgin Islands, have made a holiday out of Dec. 26, the day after Christmas.
Of course, the Christmas Holiday isn’t all that solid. It is, after all, a somewhat religious holiday, so it’s been attacked.

However, in 1999, the courts decided that Christmas Day “has a valid secular purpose” and because that decision was upheld by the Supreme Court on Dec. 19, 2000, we are still blessed with the Christmas day holiday.

By the way, it’s not really known why Dec. 25 was selected initially for Christmas day. However, some say it might have been because the winter solstice fell on that day centuries ago.

And on Dec. 21, we will be experiencing another winter solstice – when we have the shortest day of the year and the longest night – that marks the beginning of winter. But I don’t think we have to wait until the 21st or the 25th to say, Merry Christmas.

Chelle Delaney is associate publisher for the Quay County Sun.
Contact her at 461-1952 or by e-mail: chelle_delaney@link.freedom.com