Bad Nauheim (pts028/12.11.2013/16:30) - 500 years after Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan, the Synod (comparable to a parliament of the church) met in Mainz (Germany) in 813, officially declaring December 25th as "festum navitas Christi". December 25th, the day of the winter solstice, used to be a particularly important day in many cultures. While the Middle East celebrated the birth of the Indian sun god on this day, the Egyptians celebrated the birth of Horus in the Isis cult.
"Germany has a long history of rich Christmas traditions that live on today through its festive holiday markets. The first official mention of December 25 as a holiday honoring Jesus' birthday appears in an early Roman calendar from 336 AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine," says Bjoern Rudek, CEO of Historic Highlights of Germany. The Romans worshiped various gods for more than 1200 years, also foreign deities such as the Egyptian goddess Isis. During excavations in Mainz, remains of an Isis and Magna sacred site were found and can be visited.
Germany's oldest episcopal church, an apostle tomb and the tunic of Christ
The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who reigned in Trier (Germany´s oldest city) in the 4th century, was to bring the big change of Christianity. Emperor Constantine put an end to centuries of brutal persecutions of Christians when he won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge under the sign of Christianity and granted all Christians full religious freedom with the Edict of Milan in 313. Ultimately, he had himself baptized and declared Christianity as the Roman state religion. Trier is the oldest bishopric in Germany, bishops already existed in the city as early as in late antiquity. The "Trierer Dom" (Cathedral of Trier) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its interior holds the robe of Jesus Christ: The Holy Robe. It is assumed that as early as the 4th century AD, a Christian community under episcopal leadership already existed in Mainz. In the 10th century began the construction of today's 1000-year old Mainz Cathedral.
History becomes tradition: Christmas markets
Even though the cathedrals of the former church leaders and sovereigns are no longer centers of power nowadays, what remains is the impressive appearance of the important monuments of Christianity, creating the atmospheric background for unique Christmas markets. The run up to Christmas in Germany starts four Sundays before December 25 and is known as Advent. Many families prepare an Advent wreath with four candles and seasonal greenery. Many Christmas markets are held during this time and many town centers feature special Christmas lights and other decorations. Historic Highlights of Germany has compiled four regional Christmas tours of the country that will allow travellers to experience the best of its Christmas markets, cheerful atmosphere, and unique yuletide traditions.
Further information can be found under http://www.christmasmarkets.travel