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Fun Ideas: "Holidays" : Christmas History Timeline
Holidays Main

Christmas History Timeline

Major Events in Christmas History
Before and After Christ's Existence

Romans celebrated sun worship and winter festivals. The celebrations included: Saturnalia, Sol Invictus, and Winter Solstice. Each of these celebrations occurred on, or around December 25. (19, 74, & 75)

3 B.C.  Christ born in Bethlehem  (year approximated) (66)
30 A.D. Christ Crucified in Jerusalem (year approximated) (65)
247 A.D.

December 25th is established as the day for the feast of “Sol Invicti”by Roman Emperor Aurelian. This was a winter celebration that likely lead to the celebration of Christ’s birth being held on December 25 when Christianity was accepted. (44)

313 A.D.

The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, allows Christianity to be practiced. (43)

1038 A.D. First reference to Christmas in Old English, “Cristes Maesse” (44)
1223 A.D.

The first recorded nativity scene was created by St. Francis near Assisi, Italy. (64)

1377 A.D.      

King Richard II hosted a Christmas feast.(45)

1645 A.D.

Puritans in England ban Christmas because of pagan traditions associated with it. (50)

1660 A.D. Ban on Christmas ends in Britain. (50)
1670 A.D. Candy canes invented (with the hook) in Germany
(26 &27)
1773 A.D.

First Santa reference in media “St. a Claus” in Riverton Gazetteer (New York, December 23, 1773) (51)

1809 A.D.

The first known mention of hanging of stockings by a fireplace comes from writings of Washington Irving that describe how stockings are miraculously filled in the morning. (51 & 52)

1816 A.D.

The story of “the Nutcracker” by Ernest Theodor Amadeus Hoffman published under the title “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”(11 & 12)

1821 A.D.

William Gilley wote a poem about “Santeclaus” describing him as a man dressed in fur with a sleigh and a reindeer. (53)

1822 A.D.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas was written by Clement Clark Moore
[first released in 1823 as, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”] (38)

1835 A.D. First recorded use of the term “Christmas tree” (19)
1836 A.D. Alabama becomes the first state to make Christmas a legal holiday. (54)
1838 A.D. Louisiana and Arkansas make Christmas a legal holiday. (54)
1843 A.D.

Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was published on December 17, 1843 in London. (55)

1843 A.D.

First professionally created Christmas card painted and printed in England by John Calcott Horsley for Sir Henry Cole. (41 & 42)

1848 A.D.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert display a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in England which makes Christmas trees fashionable in England. (19 & 47)

1856 A.D.       

President Franklin Pierce is the first U.S. president to bring a Christmas tree into the White House. (48)

1857 A.D.

The song “Jingle Bells” as it is now known was published by James Lord Pierpont under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh.” (28)

1863 A.D.

Thomas Nast begins an annual tradition of creating illustrations of Santa. (56)

1864 A.D.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow composed “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” (15 & 16)

1870 A.D.

June 26, 1870, Christmas is declared a federal holiday in USA. (57)

1875 A.D. First Christmas cards printed in America by Louis Prang. (41 & 42)
1882 A.D.

The first Christmas lights invented by Edward H. Johnson (a partner of Thomas Edison). (22)

1892 A.D.

“The Nutcracker,” ballet with Tchaikovsky’s music was performed. (11 & 12)

1897 A.D.

Francis P. Church, of the New York Sun answers a young girl’s letter which asked if there really is a Santa Clause. The article says, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”(58)

1923 A.D.

President Calvin Coolidge begins the “National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony” that is held annually on the White House lawn. (49)

1931 A.D. Coca Cola* begins to create images of Santa Claus for Christmas ads. (59)
1939 A.D. Robert L. May creates “Rudolph” for Montgomery Ward* (30, 31, & 32)
1949 A.D.

Song originally created by Johnny Marks called “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was recorded by Gene Autry. (30, 31, & 32)

1951 A.D.

“A Christmas Carol” film adaptation of the story by Charles Dickens released. (71)

1959 A.D.

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) publishes his book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” (61)

1964 A.D.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated TV special with narration (30)  

1965 A.D. “Charlie Brown Christmas” animated TV special aired.. (60)
1966 A.D.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” animated TV show by Dr. Seuss released. (61)

1983 A.D.

The Christmas movie classic, “A Christmas Story” was released in 1983. (62)

1999 A.D. Ganulin v. United States court decision ruled that Christmas as a federal holiday is not a violation of Church and State (63)

* The Family Fun Shop is not affiliated with Coca Cola or Montgomery Ward which each have registered trademarks for their respective companies.

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The History of Christmas and Christmas Traditions

Holidays Main

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