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The Holly and the Mistletoe: A Historical View of Yuletide Celebrations   

Over the centuries, celebrating the yuletide has morphed from pagan solstice celebrations, to a Roman festival, to a Christian faith celebration, and then into today’s secular event. One interpretation of this morphing starts with the Roman Emperor Aurelian, who placed the pagan winter solstice festival of Saturnalia on the 25th of December to compete with the growing Christian faith within the Empire. In 567 AD, the Christian church, in its desire to be universal, declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be “one unified festal cycle.” How have the celebrations changed over the centuries? And what exactly does a “partridge in a pear tree” mean? And what about the origins of giving gifts, of ol’ St. Nick, of Xmas trees, and mistletoe? This two-part seminar will explain it all!


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