Christmas traditions: explained

///Christmas traditions: explained

Christmas traditions: explained

Have you ever wondered why we drag a real tree into our living rooms and decorate it with spherical ornaments? Or why we get another public holiday, the day after Christmas? We’re diving into some end-of-year traditions, and their origins might surprise you!

Oh, Christmas tree…

Did you know that the Christmas tree has north-eastern European and German origins, and dates back to Medieval times? Members of Renaissance-era guilds – associations of well-respected artisans who oversaw their respective disciplines or trades – are said to have decorated trees with fruits and sweets for children to eat on Christmas Day. However, some believe that the modern Christmas tree has pagan roots, as the Polish would suspend a branch of fir, spruce or pine and decorate it with nuts, cookies, coloured paper and apples for the ancient, pre-Christian mid-winter festival of Koliada.

Deck the halls…

Ever wondered about the meanings behind some of our most popular Christmas decorations? A star on top of the tree represents the star the Wise Men followed to find the Baby Jesus, while the angel symbolises the angel who told the shepherds about the coming birth of Christ. Back in the day, people would apparently decorate their trees with apples and other fruits. However, one particularly harsh winter meant that there was no fruit to adorn the tree, so one clever French glassblower created fake ones – and the bauble was born. Some believe that the wreath was used in Ancient Rome to symbolise victory, while others say that its circular shape symbolises eternal life.

Jolly old Saint Nick…

Did you know that Santa clause can actually be traced back to a real, living person? Saint Nicholas was a third century monk, who was born and lived in what is now Turkey. It is said that Saint Nicholas gave away all of his wealth to roam the land helping the poor and sick, and over time, his Dutch name ‘Sinter Nikolaas’ became shortened to ‘Sinter Klaas’. In the early 19th century, his image – a man in red with a long white beard, hanging around in shopping centres – became associated with commercial Christmas festivities, and has been ever since.

The Candy Cane…

The candy cane is said to date back 250 years, and was originally a straight, sugary stick that was reportedly used to keep children quiet during the long Christmas nativity services. The red stripes and J-shape were apparently added years later.

Christmas Carols…

Originally, these weren’t Christmas carols at all! Apparently, pagan religions would sing songs during Winter Solstice whilst dancing around stone circles. They would do them all year ‘round, for every season, but the December ones in particular were adopted by Christianity and performed as part of Christmas celebrations, which is why they live on today.

Mince Pie…

Traditionally topping off a Christmas dinner, the mince pie as we know it today actually began as a meat dish. It is said to have originally contained minced meat – hence the name – as well as fruits and spices, but over time it became sweeter, and smaller than the oblong shape it was originally made into. During the English Civil War, the Puritan authorities are said to have detested the mince pie and the ‘idolatry’ it represented. Who knew a dessert could be so political?

Boxing Day…

There is a lot of debate surrounding how Boxing Day got its name, but it could be a reference to the fact that some servants in Britain would get the day after Christmas off, and receive a ‘Christmas Box’ from their masters.

 

Do you have any Christmas traditions of your own? How did they start? Let us know! Get in touch with us on Instagram and Facebook.

By |2018-12-06T16:05:40+00:00December 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments