Tag Archives: Christmas Tree

A Tree in the House

Well, it is that time of year when we begin to decorate for the Christmas season. A tree in the house, decorations inside and out, kids all a buzz with the thought of presents and sugar from cane candy  running through their veins. Have you ever thought why we do what we do? Well, let’s take a look.

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition, as we now know it, in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. (History.com)

Traditional holiday decor is all about the red and green. As it turns out, these colors are steeped in religious context. The color green is associated with the continuation of life through the winter, as well as, in the belief of the eternal life of Jesus. Meanwhile, red was traditionally used to symbolize the blood of Jesus. (christmasdecorottawa.com)

Here is one of several legends explaining the birth of candy canes. In Indiana, a candy maker wanted to make a candy that could be a reminder of Jesus Christ. Thus was born the Christmas candy cane. He started off with a stick of pure white hard candy. The white color symbolized the virgin birth and the sinless nature of Jesus. The hard candy symbolized the solid rock which was the foundation of the church and firmness of the promises of God. The candy maker made the candy in the form of a J, which represented the name of Jesus and the staff of the Good Shepherds. He then stained it with three stripes which showed the scourging Jesus received and symbolized the blood shed by Christ on the cross. When you break the cane, it reminds us that Jesus’ body was broken for us. (spanglercandy.com)

So now you have it, up ’til now, the whole story . . . kinda sorta . . . at least, I think so. The important thing being to have a wonderful Christmas and remember the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ!

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Ho Ho Ho!

English: Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, &q...

Thomas Nast’s most famous drawing, “Merry Old Santa Claus”, 1881

I’d like to start by saying happy birthday to Jesus, merry Christmas, and may we all have a happy new year. Secondly, I thought that since we’re in the midst of the holidays, we could illuminate a few Christmas traditions.

Let’s begin with Santa. The physical appearance of the modern day Santa was created by artist Thomas Nast in 1881, based on the famous poem “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” The image of Santa is said to have also been influenced by the Norse God Odin, a large, bearded man who rode Sleipner, an eight-legged horse. The historical Santa, on the other hand,  is actually based on Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Greek saint who was known for distributing small gifts to the people he encountered.

The reindeer don’t appear in any historical texts until the aforementioned poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Many people don’t know (actually, only I do) that the back-up reindeer are named Marvin, Bob, Zippy, Dave and Ajax. True story.

Next we’ll discuss the Christmas Tree. Evergreen trees have been important to many cultures, including the Chinese and the Hebrews. The tree as we know it today originated in Northern Germany. The tree was decorated with fruits and other foods, including dates and pretzels. Many times, these trees would be erected in the town square in order to provide the frigid folk something to dance around.

Finally, there’s the stocking. This originated when children filled their boots with straw and sugar and placed them near the chimney for Sleipner to eat (Remember Odin’s ride?). To reward their kindness, Odin would replace the contents of the boot with gifts. Soon, this tradition merged with that of Saint Nicholas.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this excursion through a few our most familiar Christmas traditions. I can hardly wait for Christmas Day. This year, Santa’s gonna bring me some new ideas to replace my worn-out old ones.

Merry Christmas!

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