Welcome to the Abilene Public Library’s Virtual Classroom.  This space will offer a new place for youth, teens, and adults to learn more about a variety of topics, with new content added regularly.

For each class, we'll share background information, educational videos, lesson plans, resources available for continued learning and more. Plus, we’ll offer a link to a test we’d appreciate if you completed to show what you learned!

Christmas Origins

Information taken from YouTube video notes from creator, Allison Guss.

The Birth of Christ

Although the year of Jesus Christ birth date was estimated by most modern theology scientists and historians somewhere between 7 and 2BC, the debate continues about the exact month and day of Jesus birth. Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk has determined the year of Jesus birth through his own calculation using the foundation of city of Rome “ab urbe condita” thus 1 AUC signifies the birth year of Rome. Dionysius counted the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus to Emperor Tiberius and in the New Testament, the Gospel of Luke 3:1,23, indicates the 15th year of Tiberius reign where Jesus turned 30 years old. Jesus lived 15 years under Augustus in his 28th year of reign as a Roman Emperor. Dionysius concluded that the Christ was born 754 AUC the year Augustus reign started. However, the Gospel of Luke 1:5 placed Jesus birth under Herod and Herod died in 754 AUC, for this reason why most modern biblical scholars discredit Dionysius calculation.

Origins of Christmas

Many traditional elements of Christmas pre-date Christianity. In other words, Christmas was pagan before it was adopted (and renamed) by Christians. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1908 states that "Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts" - those authors lived into the 3rd century. The CE article concludes that when later Christians adopted the date of the 25th of December for Jesus' birth, "the abundance of analogous midwinter festivals may indefinitely have helped the choice of the December date, the same instinct which set Natalis Invicti at the winter solstice will have sufficed, apart from deliberate adaptation or curious calculation, to set the Christian feast there too". Prof. Hutton, a respected and careful primary-sources historian, mentions Christmas in his valuable book on the history of modern Paganism. How December 25 did officially became the world important most grandeur festive day in the calendar? We all know that Christmas is being observed around the world and generally commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ among Christian communities. The word Christmas  is from the old English “Crīstesmæsse”, the pre historic Christian churches referred the meaning to “Christ’s Mass” the Eucharistic feast celebration of Christ birthday.

How did the Twelve Days of Christmas Start?

Other Christian churches celebrate Christmas every 25th of December using the Julian calendar which the festive currently correspond to January 7 in Gregorian calendar, that is the day after the feast of Epiphany concluded. From the Council of Tour of 567, the Christian church declared the 12 days of Christmas as the unifying period of Christmas festival season “Christmastide“, giving the essential importance of Christmas Days between the feast of Christmas and the feast of Epiphany

How Did Christmas Day End Up In December 25th?

Did you know that earlier before Christmas date was established, the ancient Roman feast of Saturnalia called “temple of Saturn“, was first introduced by Roman Pagans. It is an ancient Roman festival, a celebration of Cruelty, lawlessness, adulterous, brutal violence and human sacrifices from 17th to 23th of December. The Roman court is closed in the whole festive season and its early law’s allows anyone to injure any people and damage properties without getting any punishment from the Roman authorities. The Roman Pagans started the Saturnalia festival from dragging the prisoner or the “the enemy of the Roman people” to the center court on the first feast day to represent the “Lord of Misuse”. Every Pagan community choose a victim within their community and forced them to indulge into sexual pleasures and eat festive foods before brutally sacrificing them on the 23th of December as the final festival day concluded. Other regions in the Roman Empire continued the secular celebration in festive atmosphere ’till the end of month of December every year, long after it was officially removed from the official calendar. But this ancient festival has left traces and found numerous signs of medieval and modern customs in occurrence at the time of winter solstice. Some of the practices such as gift-giving and festive food banquet were carried out in the modern age and adopted later in Christmas customs.

From 4th Century CE history, early Western Christians Church adopted and brought the Saturnalia festival into other regions of pagan masses, converted them to Christian faith with the promised to continue the Saturnalia Festival as Christians. Although the early Christian church leaders described Saturnalia Feast as unbiblical and contradict the fundamental belief of Christians at that time, the Christian Leaders managed to changed the pagans cultures by naming the 25th day to be Jesus Christ’s birth day.

Rick Steves' European Christmas
Best Christmas markets in German

Join Rick Steves for a colorful, musical celebration of Christmas across Europe. From England to Wales, France, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, you'll see the bright Christmas markets, hear local choirs, share holiday traditions with families…and even play in the snow.
Read the blog post version of this guide w/ extra locations and tips:
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (45th Anniversary)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Read Aloud Picture Book

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.
Follow along as Ms. Linda reads the ultimate Dr. Seuss Christmas classic — no holiday season is complete without the Grinch, Max, Cindy-Lou, and all the residents of Who-ville!
Frosty the SnowmanRudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Frosty the Snowman is a 1969 animated Christmas television special based on the song "Frosty the Snowman".

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, popularly known as "Santa's ninth reindeer", is a fabled reindeer created by Robert Lewis May. Rudolph is usually depicted as the lead reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve, though he is a young buck who has only adolescent antlers and a glowing red nose.

  1. Resources
  2. Lesson Plans
  3. Test Your Knowledge

Guan, Christina. Happy to Wonder Blog. Best Christmas Markets In Germany. Accessed 12/16/20

Guss, Alison. History TV. A History of Christmas YOUTUBE.  Accessed 12/16/20

Steves, Rick.  Rick Steves' European Christmas YOUTUBE.  Accessed 12/16/20

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, December 14). Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (film). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:50, December 16, 2020, from

Abilene Public Library Resources
Harris, S. G. (2020). Nana's Christmas snowflakes. S.l.: Westbow Press.

Nana uses a snowflake to emphasize that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.
nanas Christmas snoflake
Joy to the worldDePaola, T. (2010). Joy to the world: Christmas stories and songs. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Traditional Christmas carols by various persons plus fiction and folklore about Christmas by Tomie de Paola.
Shannon, D. (1995). The amazing Christmas extravaganza. New York: Blue Sky Press.

Much to the dismay of his neighbors and family, Mr. Merriweather's Christmas display grows from a simple string of white lights into an outrageous spectacle.
amazing christmas extravaganza
adventure of christmas
Whelchel, L., & Mooney, J. (2004). The adventure of Christmas: Helping children find Jesus in our holiday traditions : mom's guide. Sisters, Or: Multnomah Gifts.

For each of the twenty-four days preceding Christmas, The ADVENTure of Christmas serves as a fun and handy guide that describes the significance behind your favorite traditions. Hanging lights on the house, wrapping gifts, and decorating the tree will become opportunities to share how these customs relate to Jesus' birth. The ADVENTure of Christmas recaptures the true meaning of this beloved season, giving reasons to celebrate for years to come.
Moore, C. C., & Long, L. (2020). The night before Christmas.

In Loren Long's touching interpretation of "Twas the night before Christmas," readers are invited to visit the homes of four families-- each on Christmas Eve. What do these four homes share? The excitement and anticipation of the most splendid night of the year. In this reimagined tale, the author and illustrator reminds us that no matter where we live, all children share the same wish for Christmas magic.
night before christmas
o christmas treeRahaman, V., & Lessac, F. (1996). O Christmas tree. Honesdale, Pa: Boyds Mills Press.

A boy wants an evergreen tree for Christmas in this story set in the West Indies.
Henry, O., & Lynch, P. J. (2008). The gift of the Magi. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press.

A husband and wife sacrifice treasured possessions in order to buy each other Christmas presents.
gift of the magi
nochebuena Kanellos, N. (2000). Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories. Oxford University Press.

Christmas is at times a universal story, and many of the images here are recognizable across cultures. We hear and see proud, joyful singing; the adoration of the Infant Jesus; and the peaceful strains of Adeste Fidelis. But here as well are the rich traditions and legends specific to the Hispanic culture, such as the celebration of the posadas for nine nights leading up to Christmas, with candy raining down from colorful swinging pinatas, egg shells filled with confetti, and beautiful paper lanterns crafted to illuminate the town on Christmas Eve.