For as long as I remember, Christmas has been all about candy canes, and Christmas trees, and a jolly Santa Claus who squeezes down our chimneys with his reindeer and leaves gifts for children across the world. But how did this Christian holiday begin to lose its religious significance in favour of a commercialised marketing ploy?

Originally, in the first two centuries of Christianity, many churches were against the idea of celebrating the birthdays of martyrs including Jesus. They believed their deaths should be celebrated instead. It took many more centuries before Jesus' birth was accepted as being on December 25th and honoured. For a lengthy period, festivities consisted of services with hymns and scripture readings, solely focused on its religious roots.

Most of the traditions we take part in nowadays, originate from recent centuries. One of the earliest modern traditions is candy canes which were from Germany to keep children quiet during the Nativity plays. Formerly, they were plain sugar sticks but over time they evolved into a huge business that amasses huge sums of money every winter.

There is debate over whether Christmas should be preserved as a Christian holiday, focused on Jesus and the religious origins. However, it seems impossible, especially now that so many non-Christians have become so invested in the holiday and its more commercial elements. Some suggest its name should be changed to 'Winter Festival' or something similar, to distinguish it from the Christian holiday. I don't believe this is necessary as, for me, Christmas is not just about the Nativity, but also being grateful in a non-religious way for those around us. 

Charlotte Brereton