Origins of Christmas Traditions
There are many traditions and
symbols that we associate with Christmas including the
Christmas tree, leaving cookies out for Santa Claus,
and sending Christmas cards and Christmas presents.
If you're like most, you observe all of the traditions
which are sacred to your family without a thought about
where they originated or why they became so popular
in the first place.
While you don't need to know why you celebrate the Christmas
holiday the way you do, it makes for interesting conversation
when you're sipping egg nog in front of the fireplace.
So, if you're ready to wow your family and friends with
your knowledge of the Christmas holiday, bring up these
interesting facts about the most widely celebrated holiday.
The modern term Christmas originates form the Olde English
"cristes masse," which means "Christ's mass." The name
Christ finds its origins in the Greek tongue, which
was the language spoken by Christ himself. The Greek
form of the work was Khristos, which means "anointed
The origins of the Christmas tree actually predate Christ
and the history of Christianity by thousands of years.
The tree finds its beginning during the time of the
Druids, a society made up of sorcerers, prophets and
priests. During the time of the Druid winter solstice,
which fell on December 21, the Druid priests decorated
outdoor trees with apples and lit candles to show their
appreciation to their god Odin. The candles represented
the eternal light of their sun god Balter. Christians
later adopted the practice widely and decorated their
fir trees with apples to represent Adam and Eve's gall
The first Christmas tree has been credited to a warrior
of the Crusades, Winfried of England, who had traveled
to the Northern forests to covert the Pagans, according
to legend. When Winfried came upon an unruly mob getting
ready to conduct a human sacrifice before the sacred
Oak of Geismar, he chopped down the detestable tree
and a fir tree immediately sprang from where the Oak
tree formerly stood. Winfried claimed the tree was the
three of Christ which represented the love and kindness
that should be in everyone's home.
Santa Claus is a lively, jolly and fat old fellow who
tours the whole world on Christmas Eve delivering presents
to deserving children. The modern-day Santa Claus finds
his origins in Saint Nicholas. This patron saint was
shown in paintings to look like the ordinary person
that he was, but was given a makeover by the Coca-Cola
Company in the 1930's. That's right; our beloved Santa
Claus is nothing more than a clever marketing ploy.
And you thought it was hard when the kids on the playground
told you Santa Claus didn't exist.
Christmas cards were introduced during the 1840s in
Britain with the introduction of the postal service
and the penny stamp. While a penny was a lot of money
during those days, sending Christmas cards still became
very common by the 1860s.
Holly and mistletoe are also attributed to the Druids.
The ancient Druids were the first society known to have
worn sprigs of holly and mistletoe. The druid priests
believed that holly was able to remain green and vibrant
the entire year because it possessed magical properties.
We may have also picked up some other significant traditions
from the Druids. Do you think that it's a coincidence
that the colors of holly, green and red, are the colors
associated with Christmas today? Mistletoe, on the other
hand, represented fertility and was looked down upon
by the Christian church for its association with non-virginity.
Gift giving came to us from the Romans. The Romans exchanged
holly wreaths as gifts during their Saturnalia festival,
which coincided with the Druid's winter solstice. The
wreaths were a symbol of eternal life. Later, many Christians
would take to adorning their homes with holly during
the Saturnalia festival to avoid persecution from the
Romans. Eventually adornment with holly was absorbed
into Christian practices as well.
So, now that you know a little more about why you do
the things you do during the Christmas season, why don't
you see what other tidbits of historical knowledge that
you can uncover to share during your next holiday gathering.
About the author:
By Adam Lenk For more Christmas articles and information