Briefcase: Christmas as a Holiday

Guest: Dean Leonard Baynes


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In honor of this holiday season, Dean Leonard Baynes with the University of Houston Law Center explains how a Pope, Victorian culture and a President had a hand in shaping the Christmas holiday.

"Christmas dates back to 336 A.D. Pope Julius I is said to have chosen December 25 as a day to celebrate Christ's birth to replace the pagan holiday celebrating the end of the longest day in winter."

“In New England, puritan settlers banned Christmas celebrations through the late 1600s. But by the 19th century, Victorian customs, such as decorating trees and sending Christmas cards, influenced U.S. culture. The first three states to recognize Christmas as a legal state holiday were: Alabama, and Louisiana and Arkansas.”

“In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas Day a federal holiday. Congress made it a legal holiday for all federal employees and all states officially recognized Christmas as a legal holiday by 1907. Merry Christmas!"