The holiday season is just around the corner, so let’s learn about the history and Christmas! Today we’ll be covering some of the interesting origins of various Christmas traditions all throughout history. This lesson about Christmas is perfect whether you’re learning at home or in the classroom!

History for Kids: The History of Christmas close up image of Christmas tree with decorations and holly clip art-Kids Activities Blog
Come learn all about the history of christmas!

Kids who love history or like to learn about ancient culture’s traditions will love reading this article! You can read this at home or in the class room, either way your kids will enjoy learning about the history of Christmas traditions!

The Origins of Christmas

Many of the traditions celebrated during the Christmas season, such as having a large feast or decorating a pine tree, date back to some old, pre-Christian customs from all around Europe! Many of these traditions were kept around when various groups in Europe converted to Christianity and began to celebrate Christmas.

History for Kids: The History of Christmas close up image of Christmas tree with assorted decorations made of different materials-Kids Activities Blog
some fun christmas decorations on a tree!

Let’s learn all about the origin and history of these Christmas traditions!

Roman Saturnalia

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman holiday that celebrated the harvest! To celebrate ancient Romans would engage in feasting and merriment for a whole week! The streets of Rome were filled with all sorts of parties, festivities, and celebration.

When Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, Saturnalia and its celebrations were kept around because of how much the Roman people loved to party. Feasts and gift giving were some of the traditions from Saturnalia that would be practiced by Roman Christians, causing these traditions to carry on into Christmas traditions. The celebration itself would eventually morph into a celebration of Christmas as well.

Want too learn more about Saturnalia? Check out this article about the ancient Roman holiday:

History for Kids: The Roman Holiday Saturnalia

Christmas in the Medieval era

Following in the foot steps of Roman Saturnalia, medieval Christmas was one of the longest and most exciting holidays of the year. The people of medieval Europe would celebrate Christmas for a total of twelve days from December 24th to January 6th! People would stop working during the Christmas celebration and enjoy the celebration.

History for Kids: The History of Christmas image of European castle beside mountainside covered in trees with Christmas light clip art-Kids Activities Blog
Isn’t this castle so cool?

Medieval Europeans would decorate their homes with all sorts of winter foliage like holly and mistletoe, which was believed to bring protection to the home. Yule logs would also be burned during the twelve days to help celebrate the festivities. Many medieval churches also held extravagant church services to celebrate. Everyone would come to enjoy the service, listen to the choir sing, and celebrate Christmas. Gifts were exchanged as well to commemorate the gifts of the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus.

Feasts would be had by all, and the rich members would throw extravagant feasts feating all sorts of fancy and exotic foods. Just like Saturnalia, the feasts were a spectacle to behold. Music was played, acrobats and jesters preformed, and merriment was had.

Origins of Christmas Video

The History of Christmas Through the Ages

Here is a fun and educational video about the history and origins of Christmas by World History Encyclopedia!


Did you enjoy learning about the history of Christmas? Let us know in the comments!


Cartwright, Mark. “Christmas through the Ages.” World History Encyclopedia., December 11, 2023. Last modified December 11, 2023. Accessed December 12, 2023. 

“Christmas.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., December 11, 2023. Last modified December 11, 2023. Accessed December 12, 2023.

Macquire, Kelly. “The Norse Origins of Christmas Traditions.” World History Encyclopedia RSS., December 10, 2023. Last modified December 10, 2023. Accessed December 12, 2023.

World History Encyclopedia. “The History of Christmas through the Ages.” YouTube. YouTube, December 8, 2023. Last modified December 8, 2023. Accessed December 12, 2023.

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