When Was Christmas First Celebrated?

On December 25, we celebrate the date of Christ’s birth. But no one knows when Christ was really born.

When the church decided to mark Christ’s birth with a celebration, it chose December 25 as the date because it was already a holiday in most places in Europe, a holiday called the winter solstice.

Since the winter solstice marked the shortest day of the year, people held celebrations because after that, the days would begin to grow longer and longer until spring arrived. The ancient Romans celebrated a feast called Saturnalia around the day of the winter solstice, and exchanged gifts on the holiday.

It wasn’t until the year 440 that December 25 became the official date of Christmas. Christmas no longer falls on the winter solstice because of changes that have been made in the calendar. Now the solstice usually falls around December 22.