Popular Christmas Traditions and Their Origins

Where Did Advent Calendars Originate?

In the mid 1800s, the advent calendars started in Germany, when people marked the countdown to Christmas with chalk marks on doors or by lighting a candle. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that paper calendars were made and the idea spread around the world. Initially, advent calendars were illustrated with images from the Bible. Advent calendars are used from December 1 until Christmas Day.

Did You Know?

Advent is a Latin word meaning “the coming”. It was officially established by the church in the 6th century.

Also Read, Why Do We Have A Christmas Tree?

How Did We Start Singing Christmas Carols?

Carolling is an ancient practice of dancing or singing songs of praise and happiness.

Thousands of years ago in Europe, carols were written and sung during all four seasons. Originally Pagans (non-religious people or those that believe in more than one God) sang carols to celebrate the winter solstice around December 22, but then early Christians took over the practice and began to sing Christian songs at this time of year.

The earliest recorded Christmas hymns can be traced to 4th century Rome. These hymns were in Latin and some of them are still sung in churches. Subsequently, centuries later in the 1800s, carols written in English became popular.

Why Are Stockings Hung In Christmas?

According to legend, St. Nicholas, a bishop known for his kindness and generosity, had discovered a family that was struggling financially and he decided to deliver them an extravagant gift. On Christmas Eve, St. Nicholas tossed three bags of gold coins down the family’s chimney, where they landed in the socks that were hung above the fireplace to dry.

Why Are Bells Associated With Christmas?

Bells, whether sleigh bells, church bells or jingle bells, are a very important part of Christmas. The association of bells with Christmas is both symbolic and practical. Bells in both Pagan and Christian traditions supposedly ward off evil spirits. In addition, church bells are rung to signify an important event, such as Christ’s birthday, or even to let churchgoers know it’s time for service.

Why Are Stars Used As Tree Toppers?

According to legend, stars on the top of the Christmas tree represent the Star of Bethlehem. Christians believe that the Star of Bethlehem guided the Three Wise Men to find baby Jesus.

Why Are Candy Canes Associated With Christmas?

In 1670, a German choirmaster (a person who leads a choir) in Cologne, Germany asked a local sweet shop to make sweets (in the shape of a shepherd’s hook) for the children at his church to keep them quiet during the long Christmas service.

Why Are Christmas Crackers Shaped Like A Giant Sweet?

Taking inspiration from the French bon bon, Tom Smith in 1847 in London, invented the Christmas crackers. His rival confectioners in London started copying his bon bon. This led him to create a bigger packaging and the addition of a message within. Eventually, the bon bon was dropped altogether and a token put in its place, leading to something which seems very much like the Christmas crackers we have today.

Did You Know?

Bon Bon was a sugared almond sweet wrapped in twisted tissue paper.

What Does Holly Symbolise?

There is nothing as Christmassy as a holly! However, long before holly got associated with Christmas, it was considered a lucky charm. Holly was used to ward off witches and bad spirits, especially at farms where there were fears of losing livestock to curses. Eventually, Holly got associated with Christianity. The spiky foliage represents the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ at the Easter crucifixion and the berries of his blood. Although Christ died at Easter, it became a tradition to bring sprigs into the house at Christmas.

How Did Tukey Appear On The Christmas Menu?

Initially, turkey was not a part of the traditional Christmas dinner. Turkey didn’t appear on the Christmas menu until Henry VIll of the UK introduced it in the 1500s.

When Did Kids Start Leaving Milk And Cookies For Santa?

Since mediaeval times in Germany, during the Yule season children left out food at night in hopes of getting presents from a different white-bearded guy: Odin, the all-powerful Norse god who travelled on his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.

Who Started The Tradition Of Sending Christmas Cards?

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole was behind the first printed Christmas card. He asked John Callcott Horsley to design it. It had the words ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year To You’ printed on it. About 1,000 cards were made and it cost a shilling, which was actually a lot of money at the time (5p in today’s money).

How Did The Tradition Of Santa Claus Start?

The tradition of Santa Claus is said to come from St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop living in (what is now Türkiye in the 4th century AD. Nicholas had inherited a great deal of wealth and was known for giving it away to help the needy. When he was sainted, he became the protector of children.

The Dutch figure Sinterklass is also based on St. Nicholas. His legend evolved across northern Europe, and he finally assumed his now-familiar form.

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