Christmas
(1,168 words)

1. Meaning

Christmas, the festival of the “birthday of the Lord” (Latin: nativitatis Domini, natalis Domini), has been celebrated on December 25 since 354, probably in order to suppress the birthday festival of the pagan god Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun). The Christmas liturgy is informed by thanksgiving for the birth of Jesus Christ and the associated Christian hope for redemption. The English designation as “the mass of Christ” is attested since late Middle English (Christes mæsse). The Ger…

Cite this page
Behringer, Wolfgang, “Christmas”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 23 June 2018 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_030162>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160907



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