Christmas originated as a pagan festival, celebrated on the winter solstice when lights were lit throughout the longest winter night (this is still done in Nordic countries on 13th December) to help further the belief that the sun (and spring) would return. |
In the year 137 AD, the Catholic Church set the celebration of the birth of Jesus to the 25th December to unite the various rival pagan light festivals with Christmas. Little by little, the 25th became a Christian festival. It wasn't until the 20th century that Christmas became a commercial event synonymous with the image of Father Christmas bearing gifts, which was popularized by the famous Coca-Cola ads of the 1930s.