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03-Mar-2019 15:46

Christmas is celebrated in various ways in contemporary Canada.

In particular, it draws form the French, British and American traditions.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, it had become the biggest annual celebration and had begun to take on the form that we recognize today.

Whatever the origins of the festival that is held on the 25th of December, it cannot be the celebration of the actual birth date of Jesus. So while Christmas is the day on which the birth of Jesus is celebrated, the day chosen seems more related to the many festivals that mark the winter solstice, most of which in Roman or Celtic times predate the birth of Jesus.

While it cannot be said that these festivals are the origin of Christmas, they have left their legacy not only in the time of year, but also in many of its symbols and traditions.

Winter solstice festivities of course celebrated renewal and the return of light, a perfect complement to the birth of Christ, which, according to the Christian faith, brought light into the world to dispel the darkness of sin and radiate the love of God.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice occurs everywhere at the same time between 20 and 23 December, based on the Gregorian calendar, but local time may be on 21 December in Western Canada and 22 December in Eastern Canada.

Solstice festivals, marking the low point of the sun, the shortest day of the year, the time from which days will lengthen and hopes for light and warmth will reappear, have been celebrated perhaps for millennia in northern climates, where winters are more severe.

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This solar cult reached its climax under Emperor Aurelian (270-275).Later Christians, eg, Chrysostom in the 4th century, made a connection of this festival with the birth of Jesus: "if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice." Also in Roman times, Saturnus, the god of seed and sowing, was honored with a festival.The was designated a holy day, on which religious rites were performed.But it was also the most popular holiday of the Roman year, an occasion for visits to friends, for drinking, and for the presentation of gifts, particularly wax candles, perhaps to signify the return of light after the solstice.

The continued to be celebrated down to the Christian era, when, by the middle of the fourth century AD, its festivities had become absorbed in the celebration of Christmas.

In North America, some First Nations also held winter ceremonies and festivals as a time for regeneration and introspection.