Christmas Traditions At Home and Around The World
My family has a number of Christmas traditions. My favorite involves a family "heirloom" My grandfather's family was from Holland. When my great grandmother passed away, when I was a child, I received my great - great grandmothers diamond ring & jewelry. I love those, but I also received an old pair of child's wooden shoes. My children many years later received a Tasha Tudor book that mentioned different traditions from countries around the world. The book said that in Holland the children would set their wooden shoes outside the door, and Sinter Klass would fill them with treats. From that time on that became a tradition for my family. I only have a 15 year old still at home, but we continue the tradition. As each of my older children started their own families I purchased them a pair of wooden shoes, right here on EBAY!
THE ORIGINAL SHOES
Many Christmas items that you use year after year do have special meaning to them:
Did you know that wreaths are one of the oldest symbols to gree visitors into someone's home? Before the birth of Jesus, the Romans placed wreaths outside their doors as a sign that joy & happiness could be found inside. After Jesus was born different traditions evolved on what materials could be used to make wreaths. Holly was initially used since some believed the crown Jesus wore on the cross was made from holly. Soon others made wreaths of straw to symbolize the hay found in the baby's manger. Sprigs of mistletoe were added to ward off evil spirits, some added apples as a reminder of the fall of man. Most were made of boughs of evergreens which were thought to represent eternal life.
THE CHRISTMAS STAR
Many people put a star on top of their Christmas trees, but do you know why the tradition was started? The stars appearance of course can be found in the Christmas story presented in the Bible. The Christmas star served as a beacon of light to lead the wisemen from the East to the Christ child.
Candy canes have been around since the 1600's & were introduced to America in the 1800's. At that time they were still all white. It was not until the 1800's that they gained their red stripes which we are so familiar with today. It is said by some that its shape is like the letter “J” in Jesus’ name. It is also in the shape of the shepherds’ crook. Tradition says that the white of the candy cane represents the purity of Jesus and his virgin birth. The bold red stripe represents God’s love. The three fine stripes are said by some to represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Others say they represent the blood spilled at the beating Jesus received at the hands of the Roman soldiers.
"And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...." We are all familiar with that line from the poem The Night Before Christmas. Now some say the Christmas stocking idea came from the Dutch shoe tradition mentioned above. The wood shoes eventually became stockings in America. Others tell the story of the despair of a poor father who could not afford a dowry for his unmarried daughters. One night after the daughters had washed out their clothing, they hung their stockings over the fireplace to dry. That night Saint Nicholas, knowing the despair of the father, stopped by the house after the family had gone to bed. He peeked in the window and saw the daughters' stockings hanging by the fire. St. Nicholas took three small bags of gold from his pouch and threw them carefully, one by one, down the chimney into the stockings. The next morning when the daughters awoke, they found their stockings contained enough gold for them to get married. The poor man was able to see his three daughters marry, and he lived a long and happy life.
Yule logs are most often known today as a log shaped chocolate covered cake. Traditionally a huge log was brought in on Christmas Eve for the fireplace. Prayers would be said & the family
would light the log, which would protect the family from evil for the year.
This tradition gradually disappeared with the "modernization" of the wood stoves
TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD
There are a wide variety of Christmas traditions from all over he globe. Maybe you know some of these, maybe they are new to you:
- Australia: Small favors are baked into plum pudding. The person finding the favor will enjoy good luck thru the year. Denmark has a similar tradition with an almond hidden in rice pudding. Yugoslavia has a similar tradition baking a silver or gold coin into their Christmas cake.
Tradition says Silent Night was first sung in the village of Oberndorf in Austria.
- Bethlehem: The site of the birth of Christ is the home to the Church of the Nativity. Each year there is a large procession to the church with visitors from around the world. Deep winding stairs inside lead to a grotto where visitors find a silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus.
Nativity scenes or Prespio are set up all across the country in homes, churches & businesses.
The word Prespio originates from the Hebrew word "presepium" which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem.
Crackers have been a traditional part of British Christmas festivities and other celebrations since Victorian times
and are enjoyed by children and adults alike.A cracker is a fancy wrapped cardboard tube normally filled with tissue paper party hat, a fortune or motto & a small charm or prize. They make a popping sound when you pull them open.
The Christmas Pickle has become a widely popular tradition. A pretty glass pickle is carefully hidden on the Christmas Tree.
Come Christmas morning the first child to find the pickle receives a special gift.
In almost every home the main symbol of the season is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim; from that hangs a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. A small amount of water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, a family member, usually the mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house.
Christmas is most often celebrated on Christmas Eve culminating with the celebration of Midnight Mass.
The main exchange of gifts takes place on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany,
the celebration in remembrance of the Magi's visit to the Christ Child.
- Latvia, which used to be a part of the Soviet Union:
Father Christmas brings gifts for 12 days beginning on Christmas Eve.
In Mexico they celebrate The Posada. Children & adults re-enact Joseph & Mary's search for shelter on the first Christmas. They will have a procession or parade of sorts that goes house to house in neighborhoods & villages "looking" for shelter for the Holy couple. For fun on Christmas Day the children are often treated to breaking a pinata. The beautiful Christmas Poinsettia flowers are native to Mexico.
- Norway & Sweden celebrate Santa Lucia, the queen of lights on December 13th each year. The youngest girl in the family will
dress all in white (representing the Saint), with a crown of candles on her head.
She bring a tray of saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake the family.
Christmas celebrations start nine days before Christmas with a mass known as Misa de Gallo. The story of the birth of Jesus is read at the mass.
In some homes in Poland a bit of hay is hidden under the tablecloth for Christmas dinner. This represents the straw from
manger at the birth of Jesus
The Spanish especially honor the cow at Christmas because it is thought that
when Mary gave birth to Jesus the cow in the stable breathed on the Baby Jesus to keep him warm.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about Christmas Traditions both here & around the world! Thanks for taking a look!
Be Sure To SEE MY LATEST AUCTIONS
Read My Reviews & Guides
Click on my ME PAGE to find a link to my website.Nanalulus Linens and Handkerchiefs. I am sure you will find treasures there you will love. Monogrammed, wedding, & embroidered handkerchiefs, bed and table linens, tea accoutrements and tea party accessories. Beautiful Gifts, lace parasols and fans. Thanks for looking & enjoy your collecting!
© 2006 Nanalulu ♥