We all have them at our houses: the green Christmas trees that are decorated perfectly with coloured lights and ornaments. However, none of us knows why this is a tradition or how it started.
Why the 25th of December
Even though it’s not definite that Jesus was born on the 25th of December, the first celebrated Christmas was on the 25th when Pope Julius officially confirmed it to be Jesus’s birthday. Some early Christians also believed that the 25th of December was the start of life on Earth.
The evergreen fir tree has been used to celebrate winter festivals in the past and was traditionally decorated during the winter solstice. This was initially done because it made people excited about spring coming. Christians used it because, to them, it was a symbol of everlasting life with God.
Before lights were invented, they were decorated with candles. This caused a massive fire at a hospital in Chicago in 1885, so in 1895, Ralph Morris invented the first electric Christmas lights to decorate trees.
Carols were first introduced in Europe as pagan songs sung during winter solstice celebrations. They usually took place on the 22nd of December, and represented joy and dance. Early Christians then took over the pagan songs and replaced them with Christmas songs. With the spread of this tradition across Europe, composers started to write Christmas carols.
Mistletoe tradition stems from its perception as a plant that has mystical powers that bring good luck and prevent evil spirits. It also represents friendship and love, making it a tradition to kiss under the mistletoe.
Christmas gifts were passed down as a tradition to remind us of the presents received by Jesus from the Wise Men. Also, Christmas presents are exchanged as God gave us the greatest gift of all about 2000 years ago on the same day. Families and friends bring gifts to each other to carry on the traditions of a gift bringer.
Traditional Christmas colours are red, green, gold, white and sometimes blue. Each of these has a specific reason for being part of that tradition, and the reason why we wear ugly sweaters with all of these colours combined, even though they don’t always match.
Red: The colour of the red apples that during ancient times were used to decorate the paradise tree. It is also the colour of bishops’ robes, which later on became Santa’s uniform colour.
Green: All plants associated with Christmas are green.
Gold: Gold symbolises light and sun, which brighten up dark winters. It is put together with red because these are the colours that keep you warm. It is also the colour of the star that Wise Men followed.
White: Snow, of course! It is also the colour associated with purity and peace.
Blue: Associated with Mary, mother of Jesus. She used to be painted blue to show how important she was. It also represents the colour of the sky and heaven.
Originally from Germany (250 years old), they used to be plain white and the stripes were added around 1900 along with peppermint flavors. Candy canes were said to be curved in order to resemble the letter ‘J’ (Jesus). The white represents Jesus Christ’s purity, whereas the red stripes represent blood he shed before he died.
Also known as Saint Nicholas, Santa was a figure created to bring gifts to children’s homes. Saint Nicholas was known for his kindness; he used to travel around the countryside helping the poor and sick, and eventually became known as a protector of children. Now, Santa Claus is known as the man who delivers gifts to children who are well-behaved on Christmas.