Back in the days of sun gods, it was very common to Cat happy Holidays shirt celebrate around the winter solstice. While the solstice occurs on Dec. 21, most cultures in the Northern Hemisphere celebrated around Dec. 25. The evening of Dec. 21 is the longest night of the year, but without precise clocks, it isn’t apparent that the days are getting longer until the 25th. In the later period of the Roman Empire, the solstice was celebrated as the rebirth of the sun god in a festival known as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or “Birthday of Sol Invictus”. Emperor Aurelian, who ruled from 270 to 275 C.E., promoted an almost monotheistic religion focused on Sol. (Incidentally, it was during this same period that Christians switched from celebrating the Sabbath
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on Saturday, as Jews did, to Sunday. Cat happy Holidays shirt The Sun-worshipers did their weekly observances on the Sun’s day, so Constantine pressured the Christians to do the same.) That set the date, but modern Christmas traditions came from a variety of sources. Gift-giving was also a Roman tradition from Saturnalia, a festival that came slightly earlier in December. The origin of the tree is debated, but some scholars think it stems from a European animist tradition of bringing an evergreen tree inside so that the tree’s spirit would protect the home during winter. Alternatively, Druids decorated their temples with evergreens as a symbol of everlasting life during their Alban Arthan festival, which also takes place at the Winter Solstice.