The Many Traditions Of Christmas

Along with Christmas comes some age-old traditions. Learn how the world celebrates this holiday.

Christmas is probably the most popular holiday of the calendar year. It is a time to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Along with this holiday comes many age-old traditions and symbols. The following is a list of some of the most popular ones and the stories behind them:

Santa Claus- The story behind Santa Claus is ages old, and it is based on an actual person who was named Saint Nicholas. He lived sometime in the fourth century in Asia Minor. In his lifetime, Nicholas became a bishop at the church of Myra. He was said to be a kind man who helped others whenever he got the opportunity. He was so popular, in fact, that his legend lived on, and was shared by different countries. In Germany, Saint Nicholas was called Kriss Kringle which comes from "Christkindle". This translates into "Christ child". It was there that this saint became associated with Christmas and the tradition of giving. The Dutch called him Sinter Claes. This evolved into the name we know today as being Santa Claus.

Christmas Gifts- This tradition is presumed to have started when the three wise men, or magi, gave gifts to the baby Jesus. And, the story of Saint Nicholas recounts a generous man who gave gifts to many also.

Candy Canes- Over three hundred years ago, candy makers made hard, straight, white tasty sticks of candy. Over the years, this candy evolved into what we know now as candy canes. Legend has it that the shape of the canes was changed to represent the letter "J" which stands for Jesus. The red and white stripes are said to represent the blood and the purity and the sinless nature of Jesus.

Mistletoe- The predecessor of the Christmas tree was a hanging decoration called the Kissing Bough. It was made with evergreens and decorated with ornaments and mistletoe. If a person was caught walking underneath the Kissing Bough, then they were "punished" with a kiss. Mistletoe was also thought to bring the household good luck as long as it did not touch the ground. Sometime during the eighteenth century, the people of England adopted the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. Tradition was, at one time, that any girl who was kissed by a man underneath the mistletoe would marry him the next year.

Christmas Cards- Originally, cards that were given at Christmas time to family and friends, and other loved ones, were handmade. Finally, in the year of 1843, a man by the name of J.C. Horsley designed a Christmas card, and he gave it to his friend. In 1846, one thousand copies of his card were printed up and were sold to the public. Christmas cards have been mass produced ever since by card giants like Hallmark.

Christmas Plum Pudding- The origins of this tradition becoming associated with the Christmas holiday are really unknown. Th e dish probably became popular because it was relatively inexpensive to prepare. It is interesting to note, that, despite its name, it never contained any plums in it. Actually, it started out sometime in the seventeenth century with porridge as its base ingredient. (Porridge was boiled oatmeal.) Sugar, butter, eggs, and maybe dried pieces of fruit and some alcoholic beverage was added to the stiff porridge. Then, it was served as a holiday treat.

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