There were plenty of books on Christmas written since Christmas Day was first celebrated by early Christians. In fact, we don’t really know whether Jesus was really born on 25th of December of the Year Zero.Historians still argue when it was exactly, and nobody knows, whether they would ever find the true answer to this tough question.
The idea of celebrating Christmas Day on 25th of December, was popularized by Sextus Julius Africanus in ‘Chronographiai’ which was written as a reference book for Christians, in Anno Domini 221. The Christmas Day is preceded by nine months from the date of Incarnation (Christians celebrate this holiday as a Feast of the Annunciation nowadays).
So now we know when Christians agreed that 25th Dec is the date of Jesus’ Birthday, but we still do not know when people started to actually ‘celebrate’ this holiday. Early Christians didn’t connect this day with any feasting – Tertullian, living at the turn of the 2nd century, didn’t mention any special celebrations connected with Christmas Day in his book ‘Church of Roman Africa’. On the other hand, Origen even wrote, that celebrating Jesus’ Birthday should be considered a sin.
The earliest written reference to the Christmas Day as a celebration is included in the ‘Calendar of Filocalus’, a.k.a. The Chronography/Calendar of 354 – for the fact this illuminated manuscript was compiled in Rome in 354. Therefore, it is an evidence that date Christmas started to become a feast.
In Middle Ages, around the twelve century Christmas were even prolonged. The Twelve Days of Christmas (December 26 – January 6) came from the Roman tradition of Saturnalia. It used to end with the festival ‘Twelfth Night’, held in the evening of January 5. ‘Twelfth Night’ is also a name of one of William Shakespeare’s plays.
The Protestant Reformation, started in 1517 by Martin Luther was also afruitful period for writers, but they used to consider celebrating Christmas as a wrong thing – as “trappings of popery”. This was the time the different types of Christians chose their own ways of celebrating Christmas. Most of the times there are differences in details only, but the whole spiritual idea remained unchanged.
Handwritten manuscripts, were very expensive for the time of their writing. As of the time when Johannes Gutenberg invented a new printing method (c. 1439), times chenged for good, so if you ever need a book on Christmas, noone have to hand-write it for you – just visit the nearest bookstore…