Past and PresentAsk any child what their favorite holiday is and you’ll undoubtedly get the same answer,
“CHRISTMAS!”Yes, even Christmas’ today, which are totally geared toward shopping and who has the biggest Christmas tree with the most presents underneath, are still the number one holiday of the year. And yes, it IS a fun and wonderful holiday for children in many ways, but the problem is: It should be a celebration of the One True Child’s birthday we honor on that day, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, not all the festivities and how many gifts we receive.
Now, don’t roll your eyes and fret that this writing is going to be just another chance to preach at you about how far away from Christianity and the bible America has come—we still have over 80 percent of the population claiming to be Christians. That’s a fact, and it personally gives me hope of the future!
Memory Lane:A walk down memory lane at Christmastime most often brings to mind; Snowflakes gently falling on a farmhouse surrounded by towering oaks in a huge yard, a snow-covered red barn, fenced fields, and pine trees in the distance covered in white. And inside—a warm crackling fire, the home and Christmas tree beautifully decorated and glowing with lights inside and out, smells of pies, cakes, and candies baking while stacks of presents wait under the tree to be opened. A Christmas filled with fairytales, Santa Claus, a world at peace, cards and letters from friends and family, and cheery greetings from everyone you meet on the streets of your town. It’s church choirs and people caroling down wintry lanes. And it’s silver bells, eggnog, and apple cider with cinnamon sticks, happy faces on pink-cheeked children anxious and delighted with all the excitement and wonder of the holiday. Who wouldn’t love Christmas?
Traditions:Yes, I’m at that stage in life where remembering and comparing the ‘Good Ol’ Days’ to today just seem always to be better, and this most definitely includes Christmas holidays and how we celebrated them way back when. I also hear from both parents, (still surviving in their mid-eighties) that it was even more wonderful and heartfelt in their day. I do so miss the family closeness and traditions of earlier times; how being without much money jingling in your pocket made very little difference in the excitement of Christmas and the ways families celebrated it. Traditions were a great part of the celebrations then, and it makes me sad to see some of these glorious experiences fading away because of commercialism and political correctness.
But let’s reminisce a while starting with how some of these early traditions of Christmas were started, what immigrants brought to this country in the way of celebrating Christmas in their birth countries, and how the Christmas tree became the center of activity and decoration for the American family.
Immigrants:one hundred years ago didn’t bring only their children, clothing, and personal effects with them when coming to a new nation such as America, Canada, or other lands far from the shores of their homeland. They also brought their heritage and part of their culture into many of the holidays they celebrated. Christmas being the most common holiday throughout the world is the very reason we see so many different family traditions portrayed across the land during this season.
Food is an obvious tradition according to what our ancestors maintained as tradition during the Christmas holiday in their home countries. Sweets, nuts, and fruits, along with the family dinner at Christmas are traditions separating ethnic groups to this very day. If you are Scandinavian, for instance, try visiting an Italian family at Christmastime. You will be amazed at the difference in foods that are eaten only at this special time of year, totally alien to what your family serves. And guess what—Germans are responsible for the original Christmas cookies, decorated with all the designs of the holiday. Hurrah for Germany!
Italians immigrating to America because of poverty and social unrest in their land brought with them this tradition in the 1700 and 1800’s. While it is a pivotal religious symbol at Christmastime throughout the world, the Italians were the originators. It seems St. Francis of Assisi commissioned a Nativity Scene to be built and displayed in front of the catholic cathedral in Italy where he was priest. During that Christmas holiday these centuries ago, this scene was to represent the birth of Christ throughout the season and for several days after.
Today it would take more than a week and over an hour each to visit and tour all the Nativity Scenes in Naples and Rome alone.
Nativity Scenes being used as a religious symbol on public property in America today is being argued and ridiculed in our congress as having no place in modern day history. My opinion on that is: Bunk!
And this Christmas when you bite into that sugar cookie or carve that ham, turkey, or roast at the family holiday dinner surrounded by decorations and poinsettia flowers, think about the people who brought these traditions to this great nation from many, many countries all over the world, centuries ago—our ancestors.
Merry Christmas Traditions