History of Christmas Traditions
Throughout the holiday season, there are many traditions that emphasize time with family, gift- giving, and good tidings. While some traditions have more simple origins, like hanging stockings by the fire or caroling, others are not so easily explained.
One tradition that has always been puzzling is why we put trees inside our homes for the Christmas season. Back in ancient times, people would use evergreen boughs to put in their homes for the winter, usually as a reminder of the plants and greenery that would soon return in the Spring. As time went on and Christianity spread, the tradition became more popular across Europe and changed from evergreen boughs to full size trees. Many Christians even decorated their trees with apples to symbolize the Garden of Eden. The Christmas tree tradition continued to spread, and in the 1930’s Addis Company even used the machines in their toilet brush factory to manufacture artificial trees!
The yule log is another Christmas tradition that dates back to ancient times. The Yule log gets its name from the old winter solstice celebrations, known as Yule. The Yule log was originally an entire tree, and as time went on Gaels and Celts burned just logs to cleanse themselves of the past year. They would decorate the logs with holly, ivy and pinecones, and believed that the ashes would help to protect them against evil spirits. As time went on, the practice changed into something even better- cake! French bakers started to make yule log- shaped desserts in the 19th century and prided themselves on the elaborate designs. If you want to skip the calories but keep the tradition, you can always watch the yule log burn on your TV at home.
Christmas cards are one of the more recent traditions, with the first Christmas card being available for sale in 1843. An Englishman named J.C. Horsley designed the first Christmas card, and one thousand of them were printed in the first year. Since it was so cheap to purchase and send a holiday greeting to loved ones (cards only cost about one shilling), the tradition took off and the rest is history! Today there are over 2 billion Christmas cards sold each year.