Photo © S. Borisov, licensed from shutterstock.com
In 336 A.D., the decision was made to celebrate Christ’s birth on 25 December each year. In essence, this was a religious policy decision designed to loosen the Church’s links with the old pagan festivals.
The custom of giving presents at Christmas, in celebration of the Three Kings’ gifts to the Infant Jesus, did not start until much later. This too has its roots in paganism. Christmas overlapped with the ancient Roman festivals in honour of Saturn, when gifts were showered on citizens and slaves alike.
People bought their presents at the Christmas markets which originally took place only in the larger cities and commercial centres. The markets in Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden were especially well-known. The first historical record of the Frankfurt Christmas Market dates back to 1393.