It is the day after Thanksgiving! Do you know what that means? It is officially Christmas season! You better believe that I have been celebrating Christmas since after Halloween, but I know that many people still wait to start putting up their Christmas decor until today. While I was putting up the rest of mine (we all know you can never have too much Christmas), I started to wonder where some of our favorite Christmas traditions came from. Well, I did a little digging and wanted to share a few of my favorites with you, plus our family’s favorite holiday tradition as well!
Surprisingly there are many different reasons that Evergreen trees show up in everyone’s homes during the holidays. You can track them back to Roman times where they would place fir branches around their home and cities to honor their god of Agriculture. While later, the pagans would keep Evergreens in their homes at winter solstice to remind themselves that spring would come again. The most widely popularized story of bringing an Evergreen into the house can be found during the Middle Ages when Christians brought Evergreen trees into the home to symbolize everlasting life. It still remains one of the most popularized Christmas traditions.
From what anyone can tell, as long as there has been snow, people have been making art out of it. Back then, art tools were hard to come by, but snow would fall in abundance! Dressing up your Snowmen wasn’t popularized until the 16th century, and it is still a tradition that people carry on today with snowman building contest all over the world!
Christmas Milk and Cookies
While leaving out treats in the hopes of receiving presents is said to have originated in Medieval Germany, the version that we all know and love was actually popularized during the Great Depression. Since money and extravagances, like presents, were limited between the First and Second World War, parents wanted to show their children the importance of thankfulness for even the little things. They did this by leaving out milk and cookies for Santa! When I was growing up, we were always told that we should leave out milk and cookies for Santa because it was a hard and long job to deliver gifts to children all over the world in one night, and he might need a yummy snack along the way!
Here is another one that had become popularized around the time of the Great Depression. While the first candy cane was said to be created by a choir teacher trying to keep his young choir boys occupied, they did not become mass produced until just after the first world war in the 1920s. The shape of the candy cane represents a shepherd’s crook, the white ribbons in the candy canes represent the purity of Jesus, and the red was to symbolize the blood of Christ.
Our Favorite Christmas Tradition
In our family, and I think in many homes around the U.S., our favorite Christmas tradition is our family white elephant/family gift exchange. If you’re not familiar, everyone brings the funniest present, and we go around the room and trade to see who is left with the funniest gifts! We love this tradition because it’s always a lot of fun, it’s something we can do as a family that keeps everyone entertained and talking together, and we have laughs for years to come!
What is your favorite tradition for the holidays?