Holiday History
By: Leanne A.
Period 4

   Have you ever wondered how some of your favorite holidays started? If you did, this is for you.

   Christmas, coming from humble beginnings, has evolved into arguably the largest celebration in the world. Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25. The familiar Nativity scene seen around town every year refers to the biblical story. According to accounts in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary in the city of Bethlehem, in what is now known as the West Bank. Christians believe Jesus is the son of God, sent to Earth to wipe clean the sins of mankind, and that his birth fulfilled prophecies made hundreds of years earlier. Over time, Christmas celebrations adopted many of the traditions still celebrated today, such as the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, and giving gifts.

Valentine’s Day
  Generally speaking, this feast day of Saint Valentine was not terribly popular for quite some time after its inception.  Eventually though in England in the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand made love notes on Valentine’s Day started to become very popular. This tradition of gift giving and making handmade love notes and exchanging them on Valentine’s Day eventually spread to America.  Esther A. Howland, whose father ran a large book and stationery store, received a Valentine and decided this would be a great way to make money; so was inspired to begin mass producing these formerly hand made cards in the 1850s.

    Halloween is celebrated on the night of October 31. The word Halloween is shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve. Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween.

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