Christmas Decorations

Christmas History

I love history and I am a huge Christmas fan so this mix of topics was inevitable!

 

See below for fun facts and links to Christmas themed blogs. New topics and themes added annually.

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Santa Claus:

A Quick History

Type: Blog

We all know that the legend of Santa dates back to the story of St. Nicholas from the fourth century (at least that is what we assume in most of our media and pop culture representations), but Father Christmas, who looks a lot more like our modern Santa, dates from England in the 16th century when he came to be the embodiment of the festive season.

To read the blog click here.

Mrs. Claus

Type: Wonder Women Feature

What about Mrs. Claus? Have you noticed that she doesn't appear very often in the history of Christmas or Santa? That is because it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that she began to become a staple of the Santa story.

To read more about Mrs. Claus click here (or see the Santa Blog, link above).

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The celebration of Advent

Type: Christmas Facts

Advent marks the start of the celebration of Christmas and is the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The celebration dates to around the 500-600s AD however the use of an Advent wreath didn’t come into use until the 16th century. Similar to a menorah during Hanukkah the Advent wreath holds candles that are lit throughout the celebration of Advent on each Sunday prior to Christmas (a fifth candle is sometimes lit on Christmas Day).

 

Each candle represents a different theme of the season such as faith, hope, peace, love or joy. These differ depending on various religious belief's and interpretations. 

This tradition originated in Germany, and though it is closely linked to the Lutheran religion it is something that many Eastern European homes still have each Christmas no matter what religion the family belong to.

Yule

Type: Christmas Facts

Yuletide greetings today generally mean “Christmas greetings” but in the past it has meant different things.

Previously, Yule may have meant the 12-day pre-Christmas celebration or the post-Christmas 12-day celebration. From around the 4th century Yule was a winter celebration of the Germanic people that took place around Christmas time.

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Today Yule is often interpreted as taking place on the Winter solstice, 21st December and in many traditions, it marks the official start of Christmas festivities. Despite this the celebration of Yule can often be ignored by mainstream Christmas celebrations as it is thought to be a 'pagan' tradition with no place in the modern world. This view ignores the history of Christmas itself, which Yuletide played a key role in helping develop.Yule isn’t just one day though. Yule starts on the 21st December and last until 1st January.

Candy Canes

Type: Christmas Facts

As a mass-produced Christmas celebratory icon, Candy Canes have existed since the early twentieth century. The first patents for candy cane machines date to the 1920s but the historical existence of candy canes dates much further back.

While we don’t have a clear-cut history of the candy cane there are a few facts that appear to be well accepted.

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Firstly, candy canes originated in Germany and the reason for the cane shape is that they are said to resemble the shepherds stick that is reminiscent of the shepherds who visited the baby Jesus. The story also goes that the canes represent the crosier (the fancy stick) of St. Nicholas.

 

Either way the story behind the cane harks back to earlier Christmas time.

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The 12 Days of Christmas

Type: Christmas Facts

Everyone sings the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas", before Christmas, but did you know that the twelve days of Christmas actually begin on Boxing Day (or Christmas Day) and last until the 5th or 6th January (depending on your beliefs this day may vary slightly)!

This tradition dates back to the fourth century, much like the other pagan traditions of Yule that I've written about before.

One of the things that many people do around this time of year is to countdown to Christmas only to see the day, with the associated spirit, fly away very quickly.

In the old tradition, Christmas Day (or Boxing Day) mark the start of the 12 Day festive period which ends with the Twelfth Night (5th January) and Epiphany on the 6th of Jan.

 

Today however Christmas Day is celebrated as a singular celebration. In the past New Year’s celebrations would have been part of the 12 days of Christmas (aka the longer Christmas celebration) but today it is seen as an entirely separate celebration with no links to Christmas at all. Instead, most people celebrate the 12 days before Christmas and once Christmas Day has passed, they move onto Boxing Day sales and swiftly on with other events and activities. Christmas is well and truly left behind, but it doesn’t have to be!

Consider bringing back a traditional of old and hanging onto the Christmas spirit for at least 12 more days after Christmas! That's what my family created for me this year with 12 books to open, one each day for the 12 days of Christmas (pictured above)!