Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Christmas Revealed

Why do we prop trees up in our living rooms and exchange gifts every December? What exactly is a Yule log? Where did Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer come from?

From Santa to stockings, many modern Christmas traditions originated in ancient times. In fact, the true story of Christmas in the 21st century bears little resemblance to the holly-jolly tales we cherish today. THE REAL STORY OF CHRISTMAS, a new one-hour special premiering on Tuesday, November 30 (2010) at 9 p.m. on HISTORY, looks across 2,000 years of history to explore the sacred and secular influences that gave rise to the Christmas we know today – and makes sense of the holiday rituals we perform each December.

As THE REAL STORY OF CHRISTMAS shows, many of our seemingly innocent customs evolved from strange, surprising or even disturbing beginnings. With its roots in the Pagan celebration of the winter solstice, early Christmas was both a day of prayer and festival of drunken revelry. Rowdy medieval carolers begged for food and drink, threatening to throw rocks through the windows of those who refuse. Christmas was actually banned for years in America during the 16th and 17th centuries. And the Santa of old world legend was accompanied not by elves but by a devil named Krampus who beat and kidnapped naughty children.

THE REAL STORY OF CHRISTMAS premieres on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 9 pm ET on HISTORY®