alright most of these i can answer!
Christmas is indeed a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. However, a great deal of Christmas traditions came from pagan Yule festivals. When Christianity swept Europe, a lot of the people converted from some form of paganism or whatever and they wanted to keep their traditional parties and festivals during winter. Most theologians believe that Jesus’ birth would’ve taken place in April-May, but it’s celebrated in December because that’s when the Yule festivals were. The giving of gifts comes from the Biblical account, where the magi brought gifts to Jesus. It seems strange that we’d therefore give gifts to each other, but when you consider that, from a Christian point of view, Jesus’ birth was essentially a gift to us, it makes more sense. Christmas is still a huge day for attending church, though. Most denominations have services on Christmas Eve, although Catholics have them on Christmas as well. It’s one of the highest days of church attendance, with Easter and I think Mother’s day being the other top 2.
Santa comes from the actual real life Saint Nicholas. “Santa Claus” is I believe German for Saint Nicholas. The “Claus” is like the end of “Nicholas,” at least. And I’m pretty sure the real Saint Nick was German. Or French, I dunno. He was a Catholic saint who was rich, so he would always go around and leave money in poor women’s shoes so they could afford to get married. In those times, people left their shoes outside at night so he just like, slipped some gold coins in for their dowry. I’m pretty sure that’s where the tradition of hanging stockings comes from. I cant explain where they got Santa’s character design from, though. I don’t think the real Saint Nick dressed like that or was fat like that or jolly like that. He was probably a little bit jolly though.
The drummer boy is just a Christmas carol character. He was invented to be a little boy in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. He heard from the shepherds that a King was born in a stable, so he came along with them. He was poor, so he didn’t have any gifts to give, like the magi did. Instead, he offered to play his drum as a gift, since his talent was the only thing he had. Of course, this is entirely fictional. The magi couldn’t have arrived until at least 2 years after Jesus’ birth, and they were present in the song. It’s not based in any fact at all.
Halloween is a more complicated issue. It was an old Catholic belief that on All Saints Day (or All Souls Day, i cant keep them apart and theyre literally 1 day apart), all the souls of the dead would rise from the grave and go to heaven. For whatever reason, these souls were believed to be troublesome and I guess some of them were evil, because the Catholics had a huge thing about avoiding them at all costs. They would wear masks to hide from the spirits, and they carved faces into turnips to scare them away. That’s where the costumes and jack-o-lanterns come from. I don’t know where trick-or-treating comes from, to be honest.
The complications arose when all the Puritans came from England to settle America. The Puritans were a lot stricter than Catholics (and a lot of our current etiquette comes from their beliefs. they liked to send you to hell for chewing your fingernails in public or some such nonsense.) so they pretty much condemned it as witchcraft. Anything to do with departed souls and ghosts or whatever was evil. They spread this belief to the Catholics who came to America later on, which is why a lot of American Catholics don’t celebrate Halloween. A lot of more conservative churches also don’t celebrate it. So basically it’s a Christian holiday that comes from Christian tradition and myth and is condemned by Christians. Go figure.
If you think of any other questions, feel free to hit me up. I’m always willing to discourse at length about stupid stuff.
I find this amusing since our Catholic church hosts a trunk or treat which is basically trick or treating just in the church parking lot and a Halloween party…the term Halloween comes from Hallowed evening which is the day before all saints day in remembrance of all the saints that have past. While all souls day is after that in remembrance of all the dead. Honestly, all the people who don’t like Halloween that I’ve met are usually fundamentalist christians who run around screaming its Satan’s birthday.
The tradition of scary masks come from wanting to scare away the evil spirits and you left out food for the good ones. So you’d either get trick from the spirits or a treat.
How it was explained to me was that Christmas coincided with the Pagan Roman holiday of light. So in order to hide early Christians would “celebrate” with them and it worked with Jesus being the light of the world. Although I’m pretty sure that’s what Yule celebrations were. I don’t know.
Half the time a lot of weird things that American Catholics do was to get the Protestants off our case.
Some more information on the subject, from someone who’s actually Catholic