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Christmas Traditions

Past and Present

Ask 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!

Advent calendars:

were popular with immigrant families. They usually are comprised of little windows or houses with flaps to be opened each day of the month of December up to, and including, Christmas day. Behind these flaps was a poem, scripture, fortune, or piece of chocolate candy. Each day this would be a ritual to open the little door for that particular date and receive a reward or verse. Children relished this wonderful tradition, and families still celebrate the twenty-five days leading to Christmas with advent calendars to this very day.

Christmas cards:

This long held tradition started in Great Britain and was expanded greatly by one Lois Prang, a German immigrant to the United States. Early Christmas cards were mostly made up of religious scenes and verses but as time progressed, they became more of Santa Claus, snowmen, animals, and reminiscent scenery of days past, (such as Currier & Ives cards regularly depicted.) Christmas cards used to flood post offices throughout the nation at Christmastime, and cause mailmen to work many overtime hours distributing them. But purchasing and mailing Christmas cards to friends, family, and fellow employees has become a dying art with the high cost of the cards and postage, and also common use of sending cards and letters by computer internet-system in these modern times.

St. Nicholas:

The old man with a sack refers to ‘Father Christmas,’ (or in western civilization—Santa Claus, the Americanized version from the Dutch word, Sinterklaas) An elderly man with long white beard, dressed in red, and carrying a bag full of toys was always his description passed down through the ages. But did you know, a REAL person was behind the image that began the tradition of exchanging gifts and giving to the poor at Christmastime? His name was St. Nicholas…This man was a true Christian living in Myra, now known as Turkey. Though shy, he wanted to give anonymously to poor and underprivileged children of his time, (the 4th century AD.) He did so with money and gifts sometimes left in Children’s stockings drying by a crackling fire on the hearth. December 6th is still recognized as St. Nicholas Day in some countries, whereas in America, Santa leaves gifts on Christmas Eve, (December 24th) as he makes his run with flying reindeer and a sleigh full of toys on that Holy Night.

Nativity Scenes:

(more commonly called manger scenes.)
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!

Christmas colors and flower:

Now what could be more American than red and green Christmas colors or the poinsettia flower? Or what inspired these two to become the traditional colors and flower of this great Christian holiday? Well folks, they both originated in Mexico. Now that I have your attention, the story goes that our Ambassador to Mexico in 1825 through 1829, Dr, Joel Pointsett, loved botany (the study of plant life for those of you who don’t know what that is,) and he brought back to his home state of North Songina, the “Flower of the Holy Night” from this barren land due south of the United States. The Pointsettia flourished in the Songinas and was named for the ambassador, becoming the traditional Christmas flower and colors of Christmas ever after.

The Christmas Tree:

I have so much to tell you about the tradition of Christmas trees, you’ll just have to check out that page on this same website…It’s real simple—Look under Christmas trees. Now, don’t miss it!

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
& A Prosperous New Year!




Written by Granny Tam

 


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Snowman Waving From the Top of The World My vote is to have Christmas traditions all year round. You see at Christmas time most people at least the ones I have met, always change just a little for the better around Christmas. I do not know whether or not it is the great yuletide Christmas carols, the festive atmosphere everywhere you go, or just some hidden part in all of us that screams out,
(I BELIEVE IN MORE THAN WHAT I SEE AROUND ME.)
You see, somewhere deep down inside we all believe in something better than we now have or see, and most of us feel a lot better when we help someone. Whether the person is in need or not, this feeling is what I call the feeling of Christmas, and we all should strive to feel this way all year long.

The feeling of the Christmas holidays is truly all about family, friends and celebrating all things good.

The Lord's birthday is swiftly coming
Christmas carols we're merrily humming,
Adoration and harmony spreads worldwide
As we eagerly await the happy Yuletide.

Enhance your Christmas, with Christmas poems and stories highlighted with your favorite Christmas carols. Christmas traditions are fast becoming a family way of life.
Poems are a simple way of inspiring others to join in on the Christmas traditions that love and poems bring to this Christmas holiday.

We'll be thinking of you and yours on Christmas day
So I guess there's just one more thing to say,
May God bless you, your lifetime through,
Merry Christmas and a real Happy New Year.

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