Scroll down for Chapter One of a unique approach to the history of Christmas.
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by Judee Shipman
274 – A Roman Emperor named Aurelian, born in the Balkan Peninsula in 214, dedicates a temple to Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun) on the day of the winter solstice, in celebration of the Sun's rebirth. Emperor Aurelian died about a month later.
Above: Aurelian walls in Rome.
352 – In Rome, Christmas is celebrated on December 25 th for the very first time. A mass is conducted by Pope Liberius.
Above: Pope Liberius carved in stone.
379 – Saint Gregory Nazianzus conducts a Christmas sermon in Constantinople.
Above: A colorful depiction of St. Gregory in an ancient mosaic mural.
432 – Egypt holds its first Christmas celebration.
597 – England adopts the Julian calendar.
604 – Burgundy forces defeat Neustriers in the Battle of Etampes.
795 – Pope Adrian I, born in 700, dies on Christmas day this year. 800 – Pope Leo III crowns Charles the Great (Charlemagne) Rome's new Emperor.
820 – This Christmas day sees the death of Leo V the Armenian, a Byzantine Emperor born in 775.
875 – Charles the Bare is crowned Emperor of Rome.
940 – Makan Kaki, an Iranian warlord, is killed in battle against the Samanid army.
967 – Otto II (“The Red”) is crowned Holy Roman Emperor. He is 12 years old. 999 – Saint Heribert, at age 29, is appointed Bishop of Cologne. He dies in 1021, and is canonized in 1074.
1000 – Stephen I (a.k.a. Saint Stephen) establishes Hungary as a Christian kingdom.
1046 – Agnes du Poitou, age 22, marries King Henry III, thus becoming Holy Roman Empress of Aquitaine. She holds the title until her death in 1077.
1066 – William the Conqueror, born in 1028 and descended from Viking raiders, is crowned King of England.
1100 – Baldwin of Boulogne (1058 – 1118), a leader of the First Crusade, is crowned the first King of Jerusalem in the Church of the Nativity.
1130 – Roger II the Norman is crowned King of Sicily. The event is later immortalized in a stunning mosaic mural.
ABOVE: A tile mosaic depicting Roger II being crowned King of Sicily by Christ.
1156 – Death of Peter the Venerable, French Benedictine Abbott of Cluny born in 1092.
ABOVE: Detail of a 12 th century stained glass Incarnation window in Chartres, France.
1223 – Saint Francis of Assisi assembles the first Nativity scene in Greccio, Italy, just three years before his death.
1250 – John IV Laskaris is born on Christmas day this year, soon to become the Byzantine Emperor of Nicaea. He inherits the throne at age seven.
1261 – On his 11 th birthday, John IV Laskaris is left behind on the battlefield and blinded by an enemy attacker. He remains blind until his death in 1305, and is eventually recognized as a Saint.
1299 – The first day of the first Roman Jubilee, when visitors to the Saint Paul and Saint Peter Basilicas will be absolved of all sins.
1300 – The last day of the first Roman Jubilee.
1304 – Sir Robert Corbet (Lord of Moreton) is born in Wattlesboro, Shropshire, England. He eventually has 13 children, and dies just short of his 71 st birthday.
1306 – Renowned Franciscan poet Saint Jacopone of Todi dies at age 78 in Collazzone, as a priest recites the Gloria at midnight mass.
1312 – Anti-Jewish riots take place in different parts of Austria, nearly 600 years prior to Hitler's Third Reich.
1321 – Born on this day is Baron William Zouche II of Heryngworth. He lives to the age of 60.
1322 – Elisenda de Moncada marries James II de Aragon in Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. She becomes his fourth and final wife.
1325 – Lady Margaret Wake marries Edmund Prince Plantagenet, Earl of Kent.
1330 – Death of Princess Verena of Freiburg, born in 1291.
1332 – Battle of Annan.
1337 – An Italian Renaissance poet named Francesco Petrarch composes his greatest work, a collection of poems called Canzoniere (Songbook). The book's central theme is the poet's love for a lady he called Laura.
ABOVE: Image of a page from Canzoniere by Petrarch.
Image credit: alamy.com
1338 – A person named John Sutton is born to an aristocratic family in Dudley Castle, Staffordshire, England. He lives to the age of 48.
1345 – Giovanni di Murta is elected the second ruler of Genoa, following the resignation of Simone Boccanegra.
1347 – The black plague continues claiming victims throughout Europe, and will eventually kill about a third of Europe's population.
1350 – Death of Dame Marguerite de Mello of France.
1352 – The Sansepolcro Earthquake kills about 2,000 people in Italy.
1355 – John of France renews all the restrictions of his predecessors.
1356 – The second half of the “Golden Bull” is created. The Golden Bull is the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire, as decreed by Emperor Charles IV. The tenets of the Golden Bull held strong for about 400 years.
1359 – Death of Beatrice of Bavaria, Queen of Sweden.
1360 – Thomas de Holland, Earl of Kent, dies in Normandy.
1362 – Death of Baroness Christiana de Mowbray of Yorkshire.
1365 – The new University of Vienna celebrates its first Christmas.
ABOVE: The University of Vienna in 2015.
1366 – King Frederick III of Sicily forbids decorations on Sicilian Synagogues, just in time for the Christmas holiday celebrations.
1369 – King Frederich III orders all Jews to wear badges indicating their heritage.
1376 – Heavy rainfall causes severe flooding along the Halil River Basin, an occurrence not unusual for that region.
1383 – Beatrix de Bourbon, Queen of Bohemia, dies in Damvillers, Lorraine, France.
1386 – Death of Lord Roger Scales of Essex at age 43.
1391 – Jean le Maingre is named Marshal of France. He was active in the war against the heathens of Livonia and Prussia.
1399 – The Papal Bull is composed, and mentions an Orthodox place of worship in Bulgaria, suggesting widespread Christianity by this time.
ABOVE: A Christmas holiday market in Munich, surrounded by 14 th century architecture.
image credit: Bavaria.com
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Three
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Four
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Five
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Six
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Seven
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Eight
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Nine
History Of Christmas: Yule Log - Chapter Ten
Here are some Classic Short Stories from the public domain:
Told in the Drooling Ward, by Jack London
The Ransom of Red Chief, by O. Henry
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
Go here for selected Moral Stories.
See this page for Aesop's Fables, other short stories, printable poems, and more.
Click this link to learn Why Reading Is Important.