History of Christmas Celebration
The Western Roman church chose December 25 as its primary celebration of the birth of Christ, as documented by the decree of Pope Liberius in 354 A.D. Gradually the Eastern and Western sections of the Church began to merge their celebrations. In a sermon preached in 386 A.D., Chrysostom urged the Eastern church to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25 as other portions of the church had so observed it for at least ten years. The Western church of Rome accepted January 6 as the celebration of Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the Magi on that date. The celebration on December
25 was called Nativitas Domini, the Birth of the Lord, though Gregory of Nazianzen sought to change the name to Theophany (the manifestation of God) to correlate with Epiphany. The twelve days between December 25 and January 6 eventually became the “twelve days of Christmas,” declared as such by the Second Council of Tours in 566 A.D.. Roman Emperor Theodosius was the first to declare Nativitas Domini as an official state holiday in 438 A.D. We observe, therefore, that the birth of Jesus has been
celebrated by Christian people for over sixteen hundred years now.`~Christmas considered celebrationally
Assorted Medieval customs:
- Mince Pies (so called because they contained shredded or minced meat) were baked in oblong casings to represent Jesus’ crib, and it was important to add three spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) for the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi. The pies were not very large, and it was thought lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas (ending with Epiphany, the 6th of January).-About.com
- Humble (or ‘umble) pie was made from the “humbles” of a deer — the heart, liver, brains and so forth. While the lords and ladies ate the choice cuts, the servants baked the humbles into a pie (which of course made them go further as a source of food). This appears to be the origin of the phrase, “to eat humble pie.” By the seventeenth century Humble Pie had become a trademark Christmas food, as evidenced when it was outlawed along with other Christmas traditions by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan government.-About.com
- In Medieval England there were, in fact, three Masses celebrated on Christmas Day. The first and most characteristic was at midnight (the Angel’s Mass), catching up the notion that the light of salvation appeared at the darkest moment of the darkest date in the very depth of winter. The second Christmas Mass came at dawn (the Shepherd’s Mass), and the third during the day (the Mass of the Divine Word). The season of Advent, the forty days of leading up to Christmas, was being observed in the Western Church by the year 500. St. Nicholas was a very popular Medieval saint, and his feast day came in Advent (6 December) ~Godecookery
“Oh Come, O come Emmanuel” is a tune from Medieval times, it is called a “plainsong”.
One of the best for Advent devotions, it expresses the longing for the promised Christ.