What better way than to record Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela's 12th century observation of a Christmas celebration in Constantinople?
"There is a place of amusement for the king there called Hippodrome. Each year the king makes a great public celebration there on the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. All types of people from all over the world appear before the king and his queen, a spellbinding display. They bring lions, bears, leopards, wild donkeys, which combat each other, and also birds, which fight. Nothing like this show can be seen in all the world."