I am interested in your comment that the Norse "... got chocolates and coins in return. Both of these traditions predate Christianity, ..."
I am aware that chocolate was known to the South American Indians, but doubt that any could have arrived in Scandinavia at a time predating Christianity. I was given to understand that chocolate was unknown in Europe prior to Christopher Columbus, .....
Is there actually evidence to the contrary ?
I'm not exactly sure, but I do not that the Romans celebrated Saturnalia and gave out gifts and the Norse put out boots filled with hay/carrots etc. for Odin's horse Slepnir and got chocolates and coins in return. Both of these traditions predate Christianity,.
Like pretty well all the Christmas traditions of today, it has its roots in the old Pagan customs.
christs mass is centuries old and ive got a feeling it dates back to roman times.
but im unsure :S
I'm sorry that was suppose to be "do know" , not "do not". I'm half asleep : )