by Autumn Marrinan
Another year and Christmas is just around the corner. After Thanksgiving the tree, the decorations, and the lights go up and you can already begin to feel the spirit of Christmas all around. As soon as December is here the countdown begins, 25 days till Christmas! The holiday carols are playing and the letters to Santa are off! Christmas isn’t just about getting the gift you desire, the glistening snow , or the sleigh bells. Christmas is a holiday about giving with an open heart. It’s when you forget about yourself and put others first. Along with Christmas comes many practices and traditions. To truly understand the traditions of Christmas you must first get to know the history of the holiday that most tend to describe as jolly.
Christmas is a Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ. Many customs of Christmas are based on the birth of Jesus Christ. But some of the ways people celebrate Christmas have nothing to do with the birth of Christ. The reason people began to give each other gifts was because of the Three Wise Men whom had brought presents to the baby Jesus. Christmas is both a religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. They gather the family together to unwrap gifts and to spend quality time together. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870 but was known to be celebrated long before.
There are some traditions that everyone seems to do and others that only certain families do every year. The original well known traditions are mostly putting up the Christmas tree, lights, decorations, and giving gifts to others.The tradition of gift giving and hanging up stockings came from St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century, he was a very rich man because the money he had received after his parents died when he was young. He was known to be a very kind man who had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to the people who needed them. One of the most famous stories told by people about St. Nicholas is the one about a poor man who had three daughters. The man didn’t have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters weren’t able to be married. One night,St. Nick secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house of the poor man’s. The bag of gold fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire so that it could dry. He gave them the gold so his daughters could get married. St. Nicholas repeated with the rest of the daughters. Now when you think of Santa Claus don’t forget to remember all the tradition of St. Nicholas because without him there wouldn’t be any Santa or traditions of gift giving and hanging up stockings.
Germany has been known to have started the Christmas tree tradition. A German preacher was known to be the first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house in the 16th century. An evergreen fir tree is traditionally what is used to celebrate winter festivals and has been for years. Christians used the evergreen fir tree as a sign of an everlasting life with God. If people weren’t able to afford a real tree, they made pyramids out of wood and they were decorated to look like they were a tree, they used paper, apples and candles to make it look more realistic.
The tradition of Christmas lights goes back to the custom use of candles that were lit for a few minutes at night, Christian homes used them to decorate their Christmas trees. The candles in the window indicated to other Christians that the house was one of a Christian family and that other Christians were welcome to come worship with the residents of the home.In 1895 Ralph Morris, invented the first electric Christmas lights, which are similar to the ones we use today. He created them because the dangers of fires that came with candles. Christmas lights were expensive and for many people candles were the only option they had because they didn’t have the money to buy lights. In 1895, the White House electrically lit a Christmas tree for the first time, it was sponsored by President Grover Cleveland. This helped bring national attention to the trend. Christmas lights help light up the dark days of December and have come a very long way since they began back in the 17th century when they were just candles. Now a days there are different types of light sizes offered and in different colors with several types of patterns they can do. Outdoor Christmas light displays on houses evolved from decorating the Christmas tree and house with candles during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Following all those original traditions comes traditions that only certain families do each year around Christmas time which are more unique. Junior Shelby Houser said “Every year during December we play elf on the shelf, which is when we move around this little elf we have every night so it seems as though it is watching the kids and reporting back to Santa on how naughty or nice their being every night. On Christmas Eve my family and I go out to my aunt’s house for dinner and to open gifts, then on Christmas Day we go out to my great grandparents house to see the whole family. We eat leftovers from my aunts and sing Christmas carols, and play whip out on the Wii. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without that.” Junior Destiny Hastings said “The one big thing my family did was decorate and personalize our stockings before we hung them up. We also made one ornament to hang on the Christmas tree. Every year for Christmas dinner we go out to my grandma’s for ham dinner along with plenty of goodies. The whole family gathers there and we talk about how our year has been.” These are only a couple of family traditions that are celebrated by certain families but there are many more that get celebrated.
Christmas has been celebrated for many years all around the world and won’t ever stop being celebrated. Many traditions have followed Christmas from long ago and have just evolved as time has passed. It is important to never let these legendary traditions die out. So every December remember to always put up the countdown till Christmas and keep the traditions alive.