Was Christmas celebrated 1000 years ago?
Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus is one of the most important holidays of Christian communities. While it was already celebrated in Rome in the 4th century A.D., in the early Middle Ages it took a step back in favor of the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord. With the coronation of Charlemagne as emperor at Christmas 800, it regained popularity.
But what was the situation like in Carinthia 1000 years ago? What were the secular and ecclesiastical conditions like and what do we know about the language in which any Christian liturgy took place?
Image 1: Since the ninth century a village named Uillac, located at a bridge over the Drau river, was known in the March of Carantania. It belonged to the bishopric of Bamberg since 1007 and formed a part of the East Franconian Empire within the whole Duchy of Carinthia.
Image 2: The Christian faith was spread among the Carantan Slavs by Abraham of Freising (940-993⁄4 AD), among others. Between 972 and 1039, in the course of the missionary work, the Freising monuments, religious texts in the Karantane/slovenian language, were created. The monasteries of St. Georgen (shortly after 1000) and Ossiach (1028) were built during this period.
Image 3: As far as we know Christmas was also celebrated 1000 years ago. But until the 16th century gifts were rather offered on the day of St. Nicholas of Myra. Christmas trees (from the 16th century), Advent wreaths (from 1839) and Advent calendars (from about 1851) are later additions.
About the authors
As an archaeologist Martin Fera has researched pharaonic graves in Sudan, bronze age saltmines in Hallstatt or viking burials in Norway. Currently, his research is focused on using data from landscape scans to better understand early iron age cultures in Europe.
As an architect Ralf Bliem has a special interest in generative planing processes and modular design. He studied architecture at the UT Vienna and TU Berlin, also he worked at renowned architecture offices in Berlin and Vienna. Ralf is a co-founder of Biotop and at the moment he works with Biotop on the modular design of labs and some more interesting tasks.
Historic Tale Construction Kit - Bayeux https://htck.github.io/bayeux/#!/
Claudia Fräss-Ehrfeld, Geschichte Kärntens (Band 1), Das Mittelalter. Klagenfurt, 2005(2). ISBN: 978-3-7084-0111-9
Peter Stih, Begegnung, Akkulturation und Integration am Berührungspunkt der romanischen, germanischen und slawischen Welt, in: R. Härtel (Hg.) Akkulturation im Mittelalter, Vorträge und Forschungen Bd. 78, Konstanz 2014, 235-294. DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/vuf.2014.0.41868
BRIŽINSKI SPOMENIKI/MONUMENTA FRISINGENSIA (Freising Manuscripts). Online at Matija Ogrin (Ed.), eZISS digital critical editions of Slovenian literature. Institute of Slovenian Literature and Literary Studies ZRC SAZU 2007. http://nl.ijs.si/e-zrc/bs/index-en.html
Markus Pohlmeyer, Weihnachten: vom antiken Sonnenkult zum globalen Fest, in B. Schmelz (Hg.): Weihnachten in aller Welt, Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, Hamburg 2016, 12-26.