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Ho! Ho! Ho! The History of Christmas

by Liz Olson

Although in modern times Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, it was not observed by early Christians. Christmas was added to the church calendar as a feast day in the fourth century. Since that time, Christmas has developed into an international holiday celebrated by religious and secular people alike. Follow this slideshow to learn about the origins of many Christmas traditions.

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Santa Claus

The patron saint of children and sailors, Saint Nicholas was a fourth-century bishop from Asia Minor. He was famous for giving gifts to children. His feast day, December 6, became a children's holiday in Holland, where he is known as Sint Nikolaas. English colonists in New York (previously the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam) called him "Santa Claus" because they couldn't pronounce the Dutch name. The English began celebrating the feast day on Christmas.

Fun Fact: In the Netherlands and Germany, the Santa Claus figure often rode through the sky on a horse to deliver presents to children. He often wore a bishop's robes and was sometimes accompanied by Black Peter, an elf who whipped naughty children.

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Next: Christmas Tree

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