I love the Christmas season! Have you ever wondered how some of our holiday traditions came about?
1. Santa Claus - This holiday hero had his beginning in the 3rd century with a man named St. Nicholas who lived in Patara (present day Turkey). He made his debut in America in the 18th century. The name Santa Claus came from the Dutch nickname for St. Nicholas, Sinter Klass. There is actually a whole lot to the story of Santa Claus if you'd like to read it at the St. Nicholas Center website.
2. Twas the Night Before Christmas - This poem was written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore as a gift to his three daughters. It was called "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." You can listen to "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on YouTube.
4. Christmas Trees - The Germans get the credit for the modern-day tradition of a decorated Christmas tree. It first became a popular thing to do in the 16th century among Christians.
5. Wreaths - We have an evergreen wreath on our door right now. It provides a festive atmosphere at Christmas time. Long ago, people worshiped evergreen holly as a sign of eternal life.
6. Stockings - In the days of the real St. Nicholas, it was said that he threw three coins down the chimney of three poor sisters. Each coin landed in a separate stocking that was hanging by the hearth to dry. Good fortune for everybody!
8. Christmas Cards - The first Christmas greetings were written by boys who had to practice their writing skills, but Sir Henry Cole, director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, is credited with the first actual Christmas card in 1843.
9. The 12 Days of Christmas song - Apparently, Roman Catholics in England were forbidden from openly practicing their religion during the years 1558 to 1829, so the song was created with hidden meanings in order to teach their faith without being discovered. Go to the Catholic News Agency website for the hidden meanings.
11. Red and Green Christmas Colors - Green symbolizes the hope for eternal life that Jesus brings. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for mankind.
12. Christmas Carols - Victorian England is credited with the revival of caroling which, for a long time, was repressed since Christmas was not a widely accepted holiday in England until Victoria came to the throne.
13. The Nativity Scene - The story of Jesus' birth is recounted in the Bible in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20. But when did people begin creating the visual Nativity Scenes you see during the Christmas holidays? St.Francis of Assisi is credited with creating this scene as a way to share the Christian faith with those who could not read.
This post was originally published on December 9, 2014