Christmas in Ocala is a marvelous time of year. Charles Dickens tells of a man who learns how to celebrate Christmas in his holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Of course we in Ocala also know how to celebrate the holiday and this year’s celebration will be the best ever! But how did the celebration of this holiday begin?
The celebration of holidays in mid winter predates the birth of Christ by two thousand years. Many pagan societies celebrated the winter solstice, the day from which point days would begin to lengthen, bringing us ever closer to spring. The most famous of these celebrations was the Roman month long festival of Saturnalia. It featured a Mardi Gras like atmosphere with drinking, dancing and a focus on pleasing the senses. Additionally, this was a time for societal roles to be abandoned. Slaves joined their masters in the celebration and for thirty days enjoyed being treated as equals. In approximately the same time frame, the Romans also celebrated Juvenalia, the festival of children.
Christmas In Ocala and The Birth of Christ1
Over the centuries, the celebration evolved and as Christianity replaced pagan religions, the Easter holiday became popular. But early Christians did not celebrate the birth of Christ. In fact, there is no clear record of when Jesus of Nazareth was born. Actually, some scholars argue that he must have been born in the spring. After all, the Bible talks of shepherds tending to their flocks at the time of his birth. But traditionally they did not do so in the dead of winter. To the contrary, the celebration of the winter solstice evolved from the practice of slaughtering the herds to avoid having to feed them during the winter months. It was the only time of year when meat was plentiful, and coincidentally, the time when grapes had fermented and wine was ready to drink.
Why The World Celebrates Christmas on December 25th1
As Christianity began to thrive, the Bishop of Rome ascended to become Pope Julius the 1st. While serving as Pope from 537 to 552 A.D., he focused on gaining support for the celebration of Christian holidays. Of course, the Pope reasoned that because of the popularity of Saturnalia, he would be able to more easily gain support for a Christian holiday if he scheduled it to coincide with that celebration. Therefore, he decreed that Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, would take place on December 25th.
Christmas in America1
The first Europeans to arrive in America were Puritans escaping religious intolerance in the old world. Because they believed the celebration of Christmas to be decadent, they banned the holiday in their communities. In fact, for some time celebrating Christmas was a crime in Boston. However, by the early nineteenth century the times, they were achanging, to pilfer a phrase from Bob Dylan. People began to gain awareness of the importance of nurturing children. As a result, they added gift giving to the celebration of Christmas. Then Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, the first work of any kind that linked the holiday with social consciousness and caring about the less privilaged in society. As a result, people came to view the celebration as a time to share with and be kind to everyone, a time to celebrate in the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth.
So lets celebrate Christmas as a time of joy, a time to enjoy the wonder and innocence of children, to be kind and to help the less fortunate. Below are three links to amazing events to share with family. These are a few of the new ways to celebrate Christmas in Ocala. Enjoy reading:
With over one million twinkling lights, the World Equestrian Center Winter Wonderland promises to bring merriment and cheer to all. The halls of the World Equestrian Center Grand Plaza are decked with all of the traditional regalia of the season, accompanied by larger-than-life ornaments. What a celebration of Christmas in Ocala! Continue reading at WEC WINTER WONDERLAND.
Bundle up in the car and tune into K Country 93.7 to enjoy Christmas Music as you travel through the more than 1.8 mile route through the holiday light show! Additionally, ICE SKATING, FOOD TRUCKS, AND WALK-THRU AREAS ARE OPEN EVERY NIGHT!! Read more here!
Kirby Farms welcomes you to the 2022 Christmas Train at the Family Farm! It’s their 11th year of hosting this Holiday fun for the whole family. Proceeds go to charities for at risk and underprivilaged children. Learn more here!
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens
The true value of wealth is that you may use it to the benefit of others. The happiness you will derive in return is priceless!
Andrew Kruglanski, MBA, ABD, Broker
(1) History.com – https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas