Christmas: A Holiday Rooted in Tradition

Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, is approaching! Over the years, Christmas has become a holiday of giving and receiving presents, however, it is important that we remember the roots of this beloved holiday. Christmas is a Christian festival held on December 25 to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The month of December in the Catholic Church is called Advent, a four-week-long time of preparation for the coming of Jesus. During Advent, Christians light a new candle around a wreath for the four Sundays leading up to December 25. The last and most important candle is lit the Sunday before Christmas Day, when Jesus was born.

The tradition of giving gifts to loved ones began in the third century with Saint Nicholas, who gave poor people money despite having very little himself. Over the centuries, this developed into the tradition of gift-giving. Although gift-giving is probably the most well-known tradition, countries around the world celebrate the season in different ways. For example, the Christmas Pickle is believed to be a German tradition. Families will scour the Christmas tree trying to find a pickle ornament, and the first one to find it receives an extra present. Many European countries celebrate Saint Nicholas Day on December 6 by having children place a shoe by their fireplace for Saint Nicholas to fill with treats and small presents. Originating from Pagan songs, people sing Christmas carols, songs of praise and joy. Traditions from around the world are what make the season so special to everyone.

While keeping our older traditions alive, we also celebrate more modern traditions as well. Just a few of these traditions are Hallmark movies, tree decorating, and candy canes. Hallmark movies have been an iconic part of the Christmas season for years. Starting before Thanksgiving, the Hallmark Channel runs a Christmas movie countdown, marking the beginning of the holiday season. Tree decorating is a tradition dating back centuries, but has been modernized quite a bit since its introduction. For example, Christmas trees used to be hung upside down from the ceiling as a sign of Christianity. While that tradition has mostly passed, some have remained, such as placing a star on top of the tree, symbolizing the star the Wise Men saw that led them to the Baby Jesus. Candy Canes originated about 250 years ago in Germany. Just about everything about this iconic Christmas treat is symbolic of Christianity. The classic red and white stripes, for example, symbolize Jesus’ blood and his purity. In addition, the J shape can be represented both as the first letter in Jesus’ name and a shepherd’s crook. Changing the color and flavor is one way the classic candy cane has been updated over the years. Whether your Christmas traditions are old or new, they are guaranteed to put you in a jolly mood for the season.

An interesting origin along with timeless traditions makes Christmas such a special holiday. Even though the Christmas season is hectic, it is important to remember to incorporate and appreciate the Christian meaning behind the holiday, the birth of Jesus.