Christmas Day is finally here! Many homes have had Christmas trees and other decorations in the weeks leading up to today. It is a time when children get excited to get presents from Santa and cards are sent prior to Christmas day. It is a day where traditions and customs have been around for centuries.
Here are a few Christmas traditions and customs:
- The Candy Cane – This sweet sugar stick originated in Germany. It originally was straight. There is one story of the candy cane in which a choirmaster, back in 1670, was worried about the children sitting quietly all through the long Christmas nativity service. In order to keep them quiet, he gave all of them all a candy cane and shaped it like a ‘J’ to symbolize the shepherds crook. Of Course, this may just be a fable, but it is cute either way. Sometime around 1900, the red stripes were added, and they were flavored with peppermint or wintergreen.
- Mistletoe – The tradition of hanging Mistletoe in the house goes back to ancient times when it was supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirts. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology and that’s where the custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from. The original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of Mistletoe before the person could be kissed. When all the berries were gone, there could be no more kissing!
- The Christmas Card – The custom of sending Christmas cards started in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He had the idea of Christmas cards with his friend John Horsley who was an artist. They designed the card and sold it for 1 shilling each (8 cents today). The card portrayed people caring for the poor and a family having a large Christmas dinner. Some people didn’t like the card because it showed a child being given a glass of wine. About 1000 of this card was printed and sold.
- Poinsettias – There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas came together. A young, poor Mexican girl was going to the Christmas Eve service and did not have a present for the baby Jesus. As she was walking to the church she picked a pile of weeds and made them into a bouquet. As she laid the bouquet of weeds next to the nativity scene, the weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle.
- The Colors of Christmas – Green: Evergreen plants like Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe have been used for thousands of years to brighten up and decorate buildings. Since Christmas is in the Winter, the green reminds people that Winter will not last forever and Spring is on the way. Red: Red is the color of the Holly berries, which is said to represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross. The Bishops robes are also red. Nicholas would have worn a red robe and hence it became the color of Santa’s uniform!
This year for Christmas, we are going over to my sister’s house for dinner. I will be bringing a bottle of wine and attach a Penless Wine Tag. On the QR code of the wine tag, I am going to upload a family Christmas picture. This is going to be my new tradition!