I do not think I would count Germany as 'celebrating' this time of year as they were terrified of their god Oden; however he did the same flight through the air as 'Santa' deciding who was naughty and nice however it wasn't coal and toys which were the outcome.
The term Yule is from Scandinavia's tradition of burning a Yule log and celebrating the Winter Solstice believing each spark was representative of the new livestock which would be born the following (calendar) year.
|The gods Osiris, Anubis, and Horus, from a tomb painting
Babylonians celebrated Zagmak and believed that Marduk created the world in peace, beauty, and order. Marduk, the creator was also their sun god and was celebrated at the Winter Solstice.
|Saturnalia, Ernesto Biondi, 1909, Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens
|The Birth of Jesus Our Savior, Kim Chii, Tumblr
|The Lord of Misrule, Ralston, William
So what changed? Why would the position change so that now a holiday so on polar ends of the spectrum become a federal holiday. After New York had to institute a police force to stop rioting in the city during Christmas the upperclass began celebrating the holiday in their own way. America in a bitter class conflict early in the 19th century wanted to portray Christmas as something more than a drunken frat or sorority (ok those are my words, but it is my blog) party to take the attention away from the issues of class at least for a bit and turn attention toward the strength of family. I personally think it was a case of great marketing, advertising and the mentality of 'if you can't beat them, join them'. Americans and English reinvented the notion of Christmas through show and tell. They were experts at this as the Catholic Church and about half the Protestant Churches over the centuries had been using these types of tactics for centuries to sway the crowd to their favor or point of view. (Their congregations were primarily illiterate and visual communication was needed. Now visual communication is used because we are so busy people won't always stop to read so information must be conveyed quickly and instantly with visuals). They of course are no different than any other advertising, marketing, or company today.
Yes there were many other traditions and reasons that Christmas finally took hold in America however being I have a love of art and literature, I focus on that aspect. I also am the daughter of marketing/ad guru and IT guru parents so I see the impact these facets of our life can have on us. Who in America doesn't know the Coca-Cola Polar Bear?? Americans were 'sold' Christmas. Is it wrong? Well yes and no... but I am not debating that, just putting up the parts that I enjoy with the art, history, literature, art history, and some extra marketing/ad because I like it and then you can decide....
Egg nog - American
Poinsettias - Mexican
Rudolph - Marketing/Advertising strategy to get shoppers to Montgomery Ward's 1939
|Modern Day Rockefeller, Jeniffer Sams
A few things that havent' changed... Love, Joy, Light, Hope, and Happiness..... So practice tolerance because it is likely there are many people being tolerant of you, love yourself so much that you are able to love all others, know that with the Winter Solstice new light comes with each day so hope always abounds, and be happy in every part of your life, this isn't a dress rehearsal.
|Georgianna Lane Photography, Valparaiso, Chile