Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Traditions

Did you ever wonder why certain traditions and customs became associated with Christmas? I did. Below I have listed a few traditions and their origins:

Stockings: According to legend the tradition of putting presents in stocking began in the 12th Century by French nuns. The nuns would go around to the homes of poor people and leave old stockings filled with fruits and nuts.

Gifting Giving: In Roman times gifts were given on New Years Day. Interestedly, today Italians still do not exchange gifts on December 25...rather Italians exchange gifts on January 6, the day the Wise Men arrived in Jerusalem.

Christmas Trees: The tradition of the Christmas Tree began in Germany in the 1500's. One source actually states that Martin Luther was the first person to decorate a fir tree as part of the holiday.

Christmas Cards: Sir Henry Cole, a government worker in England in the 1840's was looking for a way to make more people use the postal service. Cole and his friend, John Horsley designed the first Christmas Cards and sold them for 1 shilling each.

Candy Canes: Again a tradition that originated in Germany...legend has it that a choirmaster passed out sugar-sticks made in the shape of a Shepard's "cane" to children during the concerts to keep them quiet.

Mistletoe: The custom of kissing under Mistletoe began in Norway. In Norway a piece of mistletoe hanging in a house is a sign of love and friendship. This tradition evolved into the kissing custom.

Boxing Day: Boxing Day is celebrated in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It started almost 1000 years ago. Today Boxing Day is a big shopping day in these countries, but originally it was the day the churches opened their collection "boxes" and distributed the contents to the poor.

Santa Claus (modern day): The image of Santa as we knew him...a rotund, jolly man in a red suit with a white beard comes from a Coca-Cola advertising campaign in the 1930's.

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