The history of Christmas can be divided into two major sections, modern and ancient. The origins of Christmas involve many different pagan holidays, festivals and events. The modern history of Christmas didn’t start until the 19th Century, with the help of Washington Irving’s book The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon and Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. [Read more…]
The history is rooted in Norse Mythology. The god balder had a recurring dream of his own death and became very depressed. This caused his mother Frigga to worry about her son. As a solution she went around to each item on the Earth and made them swear never to harm her son Balder. They all agreed except for the mistletoe plant. Being a small and insignificant plant she wasn’t worried, and her son was relieved and happy again. With his new found invincibility the other gods playing a game throwing objects at Balder who was unable to be harmed by them. The chief protagonist of Norse mythology, Loki learned of Balder’s weakness for mistletoe and began to construct a magical spear made from the plant. He then tricked Baldar’s brother into hurling the spear at him and killing him. His dream had come true and his mother wept tears of white berries. To bring her son back to life she vowed that she would kiss anyone who stood
The origins of Christmas date back to the ancient world, and pagan festivals. Before the birth of Jesus ancient people celebrated the passing of darkest days of winter, with a winter solstice festival. [Read more…]
Christmas Gift Baskets are one of the more popular items to give during the holiday season. The gift baskets range in size from small handheld baskets to large overflowing corporate gift. Traditionally the baskets were filled with fruits and nuts and decorated with bow. Today however the choices are endless. Many women give beauty or self pampering gift baskets filled with lotions, creams, perfumes and other related products. Another popular basket is the gourmet basket filled with specialty foods like pasta, hot peppers and sauces or chocolates. Gift baskets have also entered into the corporate world with golf or exotic coffee themes. Don’t forget gift baskets also make perfect gifts for children as well, you can build them around a favorite sports team, or toy like Barbie. If you are considering giving a Christmas gift basket the only limitation is your own imagination.
The Christmas tree traces it origins back to the early Romans, who used them in the winter festival of Saturnalia, a feast that honored the god Saturn. During the middle ages evergreen trees known as the paradise trees were decorated with apples. Most historians believe that the apples were actually a symbol of Christianity to remind people of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Today Alsace is located in France, but in the 1500’s it was located in Germany, and records have been found indicating trees were sold placed inside homes. There were even regulations declaring no one could have more than one tree per household and trees weren’t allowed to be more then 8 shoe lengths in height.
The founder of the Lutheran Church, Martin Luther is credited with being the first to decorate a Christmas Tree in the sixteenth century. He was walking through the forest at night and saw the twinkling of stars through the trees branches. He later tried to describer the scene to others and used candles to simulate the effect. There are written records confirming trees were decorated with other items like roses and candy in 1605.
Photo credit: Lida Rose
The origins of the Christmas tree lie in ancient times however a more modern history of the Christmas tree comes from Germany in the 17th century. German families cut the tops off of evergreen trees and placed them upside down in their houses where they were decorated with apples, nuts, and red ribbon or paper. German immigrants to the United States are also said to have brought some of these traditions from their homeland. They built wooden pyramids and decorated them with evergreen branches. The first full tress didn’t appear until the early 1800’s.
IN 1834 Queen Victoria of England married Prince Albert of Germany, and later that year the first Christmas Tree made an appearance at Windsor Castle. This tradition became more popular and spread to the United States in the 1840’s. In the 1850’s an enterprising farmer chopped down some evergreen trees and drove two ox carts to New York City and set up the first Christmas Tree lot to sell trees. In 1856 the first Christmas tree was introduced to the White House by Franklin Pierce.
Christmas Wreaths were in use long before people began to celebrate Christmas. The wreath or circle has long been a symbol of eternity or the circle of life. In early pagan days wreaths were used as decorations to celebrate military victories, sporting contests or other important events. During pagan rituals of Saturnalia the wreath was made out of evergreen branches to symbolize the return of life and spring that would occur in a few months. [Read more…]
During the earliest times Christmas tress were left bare or decorated with natural items such as apples, pears or other fruits, nuts, or candies. Eventually as society began to advance other items such as candles, ribbons, and decorated paper were used.
One the most famous first decororated Christmas Trees was the one brought by Prince Albert to Windsor Castle after he married Queen Victoria. The tree was decorated with glass ornaments made by the finest craftsman of day. The next year hand blown glass ornaments were the most sought after ornament. The fondness for German made glass Christmas ornaments made its way across the pond to the United States, some of the most sought after ornaments were imported by the F.W Woolworth Company. This lasted until the start of World War I.
In the 1960’s with the space race was in full swing it was very trendy to have aluminum Christmas Trees with aluminum Christmas ornaments all over the tree. With the boom stock market in the 1980’s it became fashionable to have expensive finely crafted ornaments made of glass, ceramic or other materials. Additionally novelty ornaments became extremely popular with companies like Hallmark starting multi year collector series.
The earliest artificial Christmas trees can be traced back to Germany around the 1800’s. The trees were made from feathers, of geese, swans, turkey’s and even ostriches. The feathers were removed and dyed green to look like traditional evergreen trees. In the early 1900’s artificial tress took a leap forward and were made of other man made materials. Some companies even produced artificial novelty trees made form a variety of products. One of the most famous being the Addis brush company’s tree made from toilet bowl brushes.
With the development of plastics in the 1950’s and 1960’s the next generation of artificial trees was born. The tree limbs were made of lightweight aluminum and had plastic needles to simulate pine needles. While many of the early trees look somewhat primitive by today’s standards they were quite revolutionary at the time. Design and improvements in materials science have continued to produce more lifelike and natural looking trees. Today you can artificial trees with a host of other options such as built in lighting, motorized turntable bases and special effects lighting. While some trees are made less than 6 feet in height the vast majority of trees sold today are in the six to eight foot range, however specialty trees exist up to 14 feet in height. Another option is color, while natural green is the most popular color trees also come in white, blue, pink and several other colors.
While most people prefer a real Christmas tree there are some places where an artificial tree is more desirable, such as warm climates, where natural trees would dry and become a fire hazard quickly. Additionally some people prefer the convenience of natural trees, assembly, storage and cleanup.
Photo credit: trekkyandy
Christmas Decorations have evolved over the years and are constantly changing. Many traditions for Christmas Decorations come from different cultures and are mixed together and changed along the way. Decorations of Christmas Trees changed from the days of the Middle Ages where trees were decorated with fruits, nuts and berries to glass ornaments in the 1800’s. Modern Christmas Tree Decorations come in a wide range of materials from Bavarian crystal, to dolls wearing silk dresses to injection molded plastic ornaments featuring this years most popular children’s character.
People have also decorated with items other than Christmas trees, ivy, holly and mistletoe. In the 1950’s electric lights used both on the tree and exterior of the house became popular, trend that continues to this day. Many exterior decorations become so large and extravagant that they cause traffic jams in local communities.