By Mary Friedel-Hunt
Christmas is now considered by many to be a worldwide commercial and cultural holiday.Those of us who celebrate it primarily as a religious holiday struggle with this reality. To me it feels like reporting that July 4 is now something other than the celebration of the birth of our country. Though most people celebrate Christmas, for many it is about gifts, trees, spending, parties, food, gatherings and traditions of all kinds.
These stories and traditions vary from country to country and across many historical periods. Though we cannot imagine a year without Christmas, before 1894 it was not even a legal holiday and people went to work as usual, putting in a 12-hour day in a six-day week. Looking back in time, December celebrations were originally focused on the celebration of the winter solstice (Dec. 22), on light and dark because that day has the least amount of light in the year.