Its impossible to ignore the imminence of Christmas. From October or September, officially, in the Philippines the organised among us begin to send cards, the smug enclose letters detailing their offsprings glowing successes, and shopping malls everywhere are decked with tinsel and belting out We Wish You a Merry Christmas. All around us, the colourful spectacle that is Christmas begins to unfurl: lights are strung, trees are decorated, and young children belatedly begin to behave. So whats it all about? Even those who understand that Christmas means more than gift-giving and parties might be surprised at the origins of one of the worlds most celebrated dates. It is a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but midwinter festivals, some with similar traditions, were observed thousands of years before that religion even existed. The pagans, Romans, Crusaders, and even King Henry VIII played a part in the Christmas extravaganza we indulge in today. The history of Christmas Ancient midwinter festivities celebrated the lengthening of the day , a turning point between the old and the new year.