THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
By Neel Shah
It’s the beginning of the Christmas season and everyone’s getting ready. The trees are up, presents are being bought and the stockings are hung, yet not many people know when these traditions began:
1) Christmas Trees
Christmas trees were used to decorate homes in the winter, particularly in the German states at the time. In England, German kings such as George III kept evergreen trees in their homes around the Christmas period (in celebration of Adam and Eve’s birthday). However, they sparked popularity when Queen Victoria decorated a tree to respect Prince Albert’s traditions, and soon after the public started to decorate trees during Christmas.
To many people’s surprise, the tradition of carolling form house to house only dates to the 19th century. Although Christmas carols had existed for centuries before, it was only in Victorian England that people decided to go from house to house singing carols. In Victorian England, carolling was part of every holiday, however today we have only held on to carolling at Christmas, a key tradition today.
3) Cookies and Milk
This American tradition dates back to Norse mythology, where children would leave treats for the god Odin’s horse, who in return would leave presents. The tradition was recreated during the Great Depression in America, to teach children the importance of being grateful. However, parents related the tradition to Santa, who was more respected in 20th century America.
Celtic Druids associate mistletoe with fertility and vitality since Ancient times, However, the tradition really started in the 18th century, where it was common for English servants to kiss beneath mistletoe as it was considered lucky (unless the woman refused). The tradition quickly spread to those they served, and has become a symbol of Christmas.
5) Red and Green
Red and green are considered the colours of Christmas today, however there is no official reason for this. It is believed that the green cane from the evergreen trees (also used as Christmas trees), and the red cane from holly berries. The red also has a religious meaning as it could represent the blood of Christ.