December 25th of 1. C. E. has come to be known as the estimated date of Jesus’ birth.
The year was determined by a Scythian monk, Dionysius Exiguus, through years of tracking the time period of the Bible being that the exact date was not given, and the month and day being December 25th were guesstimated to have followed after the holiday of the Roman pagans, Saturnalia. This holiday was a week-long celebration of lawlessness in which all government authority closed from the 17th through the 25th leaving all crimes done within that time period without punishment.
In 400 C.E., Christians were determined to turn the Roman pagans to Christianity by modifying their pagan holiday and, consequently, making the last day of the week-long celebration Jesus’ birthday, changing the name of the holiday to Christmas and altering singing naked in the streets into caroling. However, their attempts at a revival had little success, and the Saturnalia “traditions” of crime continued long after.
From 1659 through 1681, in Massachusetts, the Puritans even banned all celebration for the holiday because of its pagan origin, yet despite this, most Christians celebrated and still celebrate Christmas for what it was modified to be.
As Christmas carols highlighting the birth of Jesus were derived from singing pagan songs while streaking in the streets, the Christian revision of the Christmas tree being a sign of everlasting life with God was derived from the old pagan rituals of worshiping trees in the forest or bringing a tree into their home to decorate as a symbol of the spring to come.
Kissing under the mistletoe was also derived from an old pagan ritual of using mistletoe to poison their human sacrifices which also changed to a sexual license in Saturnalia.
Santa Claus was previously know as St. Nicholas. He was born in Turkey, and later became a bishop of Myra. In Italy, Nicholas followed after the deity named, The Grandmother, who used to put gifts in children’s stockings. Later, the legend of St. Nicholas was adopted by German and Celtic pagans. They were led by Woden, their chief god, who had a long, white beard and rode on flying horses through the night which is where Santa Claus’ image became derived from. As another effort to revise the pagan practices and beliefs, Christians, then, adopted the legends of St. Nicholas and stated that he did gave out gifts on December 25 to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
Washington Irving, Clement Moore and Thomas Nast all contributed to the current image of St. Nicholas, now known as Santa Claus, using years of history about the holiday and the saint to make the story the most authentic.