It has been a nice quiet Christmas so far. The shops are overcrowded as usual, but I have managed to stay away for most of that. The rest of the period has been bliss.

There have been a very muted campaign by advertisers this season, TV and radio stations have played a little bit of Christmas stuff, but have not overdone it. But most of all, I have not once yet heard anyone say “I wish people would just remember the true meaning of Christmas”, or “Christmas has become so commercialised”.

That out of everything irritates me the most. So here goes a little history lesson.

First, most people think that the true meaning of Christmas has to do with the birth of Jesus, etc, etc , and not the gift-giving and partying that we tend to focus on these days. History disagrees with this.

The really true meaning of Christmas has a bit more of a pagan feel to it. You see, back in the good old days, when the Roman Empire was still around, they had many gods, and one of them was Saturn. He was the god of agriculture, and his feast day, called Saturnalia, was around the 19th of December, and people used to celebrate it by…..wait for it….gift-giving and partying.

Now, let’s move onto the early church. The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who lived from 272 – 337 AD, was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, and as a result of this, the Roman Empire was converted to Christianity too.

The difficulty is, how do you convince people to change from their usual gods to some new religion, especially when they have been used to having some great parties with Saturnalia and that sort of thing.

Well, the answer to that, is why not keep on partying! You see, before this time, the Christian community were more concerned with celebrating Jesus’ death (ie Easter) than his birth, so the church authorities hit a brainwave. Why not take the old pagan feasts (of which Saturnalia was one) and convert them to Christianity. Strip out the old deity and insert Jesus in its place.

They even kept the date similar. The simple fact of the date is that no-one really knows what day Jesus was born on, and 25 December is really just arbitrary in that respect.

Over the years many other traditions have grown up around Christmas, such as Christmas trees, and Santa, but the true meaning of Christmas…..wait, I should say the original meaning of Christmas had nothing to do with three wise men and mangers, but rather with gift-giving and partying.