“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
It’s clear this time of year that Christmas is teeming with smiles and joy! But amidst the crowded stores and holly decked halls, there is so much culture to behold! From Santa Clause, to mistletoes, to the Christmas tree itself, every thing we stuff our homes with has a story to be told! Our entry today will explore some of the most famous Christmas symbols and a short explanation of their origin and history.
Sure, this is not a religious blog, but we cannot talk about Christmas without briefly talking about the nativity. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth is what centers the Christmas tradition. According to the gospel accounts of Christianity, Mary (impregnated as a vigin by the Holy Spirit) and her fiancé, Joseph, are headed from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfil a Roman census. But upon their arrival, there are no rooms left for them at the inn. So, Joseph and his pregnant fiancée are given a humble stable to lodge in for that night, where Mary gives birth to the child, Jesus. It is also written that wise men came from far off lands to Bethlehem where the child was born to give him gifts fit for a king! Hence why we see animals and robed people surrounding a manger bearing gifts for a baby! It is more than likely why we exchange gifts on Christmas also! Jesus is believed by Christians to be the savior of mankind and the fulfilment of thousands of years of prophecy!
Is the Christmas tree Pegan? the answer is, sorta. It all depends on what time in History you are referring to. The Christmas tree as a household tradition did not begin until the 16th century in Freiburg Germany, when Christians began bringing evergreen trees into their homes in celebration of Christ. If we looked as far back as ancient Egypt, Rome, and Celtic cultures, Pegan cultures did hang evergreen wreaths in their home around the winter solstice to symbolize a time of renewal and hope. Christmas tree decorating became more fashionable and attractive when the husband of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, had bejeweled the first tree at Windsor candle with candles, sweets, fruits and gingerbread in 1841. The tradition was followed by many English families later on and has evolved in the way we do it today!
The Yule and Other Traditions
Here’s a neat one for you! Did you know the Yule goes as far back as Medieval Scandinavia! The etymology of yule is also where we get the word for “jolly!” Yule practices involved things such a choosing the log for long celebratory burning, and sacrificing a wild boar; feasting on it in honor of the Scandinavian tale known as the “Wild Hunt!” Which involves a ghostly procession of huntsmen on horses through the winter sky allegedly led by Odin himself. There are many possible traditions we pull from this culture such as burning the burning of the yule log, serving up Christmas ham, and tell the story of a white bearded man riding through the night sky with reindeer! Of course as years have gone on, we have tweaked the narrative, but if history teaches us anything, it’s that is is anything but clean and simple!
These few Christmas traditions we will find everywhere today, we hope that if you are celebrating Christmas this season you will take the time to research and share what is important about it for you and your family and remember that your family traditions might just be traditions that go back centuries upon centuries! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and we hope you spend this Christmas season amazingly! And stay tuned for more Christmas content on the Bel Aire Terrace blog!