The Beginning of Our Favorite Christmas Traditions by ella hunley

december 22, 2018

As Christmas Day gets nearer, our families all go up to the attic and lug down the Christmas ornaments, stockings, and advent calendar. We go out to buy a tree, or just grab one out of a box. We all have so many beloved Christmas traditions, but where did they all start? Who had the idea to put a tree in their house and hang stuff on it? Why do we decorate our homes with bright red and green? Where did this all begin?

Christmas Trees

Before Christianity was even fully developed, people thought very highly of plants that stayed green all year. So, these evergreen plants were hung around the home to keep away bad omens like diseases or evil spirits. Long ago, before Christmas was widely celebrated, people would recognize the winter solstice as a main holiday. Solstice was believed to occur because the Sun God was tired and weak. Evergreen plants reminded people that the Sun God was still alive and would return soon. Later, in the 1700s, Germany was credited with the first evergreen Christmas tree. Legend has it that Martin Luther once saw stars shining through the branches of some evergreen trees. He then decorated these kinds of trees with candles to replicate the beauty he had witnessed. Christians followed suit and began bringing them into their homes for Christmas and decorating them with Candles. In the 1840s, Christmas trees were first brought to the United States by German settlers in Pennsylvania but this tradition didn’t really catch on until the 1890s. Then in the early 20th century people began decorating the trees with lights popcorn and ornaments. And so, we had our tradition beautiful Christmas Tree.

Kissing under the Mistletoe

Long ago the Greeks revered mistletoe because it was thought to heal things like spleen disorders and menstrual cramps. The romantic overtones of this plant, however, started with the Celtic Druids during the first century. It was thought that since the plant could grow even throughout the winter, it was powerful. Thus mistletoe became a symbol of hope and fertility. Later on, in 18th century England, it became a tradition with the servants of wealthy households that a man could steal a kiss from a woman if they were under the mistletoe. It was a tradition that for every kiss the couple has to pluck a berry from the plant and once all the berries were gone there would be no more kissing. People began decorating their houses with mistletoe for Christmas as a symbol of love and fertility.

Red and Green

When Santa was first developed for Coca Cola, he was designed wearing bright red robes, thus establishing red as a traditional Christmas color. Green became a  “Christmas Color” because of the evergreen trees and wreaths that are so often decorated with.

Hanging Stockings

Legend has it that long ago there was a very poor man with three daughters who was worried that their financial situation would make it a challenge for his daughters to find husbands. Saint Nick heard about this family’s struggles and so he decided to help them by sliding down the chimney and leaving some gold coins in the house. Then, he spotted the girls stockings by the fireplace and proceeded to put the coins inside of them. Now that Saint Nick has become the character of Santa Claus, it is a tradition for children to hang up their stockings by the fireplace so that “Santa” can fill them up. These stockings used to just be the children’s long socks, but nowadays they are vaguely sock shaped sacks that can fit much more stuff then regular socks. However, the tradition of awaiting gifts in your stockings has been the same since long ago.