The history of the Christmas festive times dates back over 4000 years, taking roots from pagan Midwinter festivities, centred on the winter solstice and celebrating the return of the Sun from cold and darkness and marking the turning point between the old and the new year.
The later development of the Christmas festival includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia, in honour of Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December.
Many popular customs, which are today associated with Christmas, developed over time independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth at different parts of the world, to all have one in common – big celebrations.
As Christianity spread, in an attempt to consolidate all different pagan customs, the Church prohibited most of these celebrations to turn them into a religious celebration to honour the Christian Son of God.
The very word celebration derives from Latin and an original meaning of ‘gathering of people – whether at a place of worship, as a family at home, or as a public gathering at an opened space’ – to later, circa 5th century, refer to the action of celebrating the Eucharist.
The word firstly entered the English language as a verb and to particularly refer to the performance of religious ceremonies at the Eucharist rite. Firstly met in print, in the Will of John Beton from 1453: “I bequeath to an honest priest to celebrate for my soul and for soul of my wife”.
30 years later, the French noun celebracion found its way into the English vocabulary, to appear in William Caxton’s translation of The Golden Legend, a medieval collection of hagiographies by Jacobus de Voragine: “If there have been works sacramental, as is the celebracion of the mass”.
The meaning of the noun further developed, to half a century later come to the one that we are familiar with today, ‘an act of celebrating a significant or happy day or event,’ along to its modern spelling. Firstly introduced in 1533, when Baron Berners published his translation of The golden book of Marcus Aurelius: “The day of celebration of the saint feast, all Rome rejoiced, and put on them the best clothes that they had”.
, the Hindi उत्सव and the Traditional Chinese 慶典 – the world loves festive times and the Christmas season, regardless of when exactly hits your country, is all about celebrations!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at EVS Translations.