The Art of the Ugly Christmas Sweater

The Art of the Ugly Christmas Sweater

Dressing in something unusual for Christmas is certainly nothing new. Anciently part of Christmas celebrations meant wearing something silly or out of character. That notion continues today with Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. There is nothing meaningful behind this tradition other than fun. It is universal – meaning anyone can do it – and the only rules are that there are no rules. In fact, the more insane your sweater the better you are celebrating the day. What makes the ugly Christmas sweater so fun is that many of the great Christmas sweaters of the past are considered better ugly sweatersRead more

The Real History of Christmas Ornaments

The Real History of Christmas Ornaments

The humble Christmas ornament rarely gets much thought for its significance and purpose. For many the Christmas ornament is merely decorative, a simple environmental adornment of the season. Most can look at an ornament and see it as nothing really special. Like nearly all things Christmas the history of Christmas ornaments is glossed over by historians and peddlers of merchandise. At Hallmark, who makes millions from sales of specialty ornaments annually, they can only say “For many people, decorating their home and Christmas trees with ornaments is one of the most enjoyable ways to capture the magic and excitement ofRead more

History of Christmas in July

History of Christmas in July

The modern image of Christmas is locked in as a season covered in snow, ice and frosty images of evergreens. Ironically, the actual setting for Christmas should take place in the dry desert heat. Christ, after all, was not born on December 25th. Historians usually place His birth in the Spring. The seasonality of St. Nicholas bears explaining as well. Historically Nicholas of Myra was a year-round figure, placed in not-so-frosty like places in the Middle East. How he came to wear red is easily explained but how he took to sleighs and snowmen is a bit more complicated. ButRead more

My Private Christmas

My Private Christmas

The presents are all unwrapped. Santa’s stockings are emptied. Signs of yet another great Christmas celebration are everywhere. And my husband and children are asleep. The lights on the tree still shine and this is my time for my private Christmas. It is private because most don’t understand it. I didn’t understand it at first. Like everyone else I grew up with the traditions of Christmas. The mistletoe, the concerts, the decorations, the bustle of gifting and fixing foods and enjoying gatherings. Those things are still a part of it. But Christmas isn’t Christmas for me until my private Christmas.Read more

History of the Tradition of Elves

History of the Tradition of Elves

Lost in the romance, fantasy and some would say mystery and myth of Christmas is the concept of elves. Most folks today think of Santa’s helpers, often in the form of little people, who work at the North Pole busily making toys for good children everywhere. But elves in that vein are a relative recent invention, stemming from 19th century minds full of fantasy as the modern character of Santa Claus was developed in the Americas. Elves have their origins deeply staked in ancient mythology and their history, unlike St. Nicholas, is completely lacking any relation to deity or theRead more

10 Ways to Make Your Christmas Card Unique This Year

10 Ways to Make Your Christmas Card Unique This Year

We all tend to see the same Christmas cards year after year — a Christmas greeting in traditional red and green, perhaps with a festive family photo. But what if you tried something new and different this year? From cheap Christmas cards with funny wording to more elaborate cards that shimmer and shine, we’ve got some fresh ideas for putting a new spin on your annual Christmas cards. Let’s take a look! 1. Include Your Family Pet Let’s face it — our furry friends are 10 times more photogenic than we are. Why not let them hog the limelight thisRead more

The History and the Mystery of Santa’s Wink

The History and the Mystery of Santa’s Wink

Santa’s wink is missing. British fans of Christmas are taking to social media to vent over a change in Coca Cola’s traditional Christmas commercial that shows Santa handing a bottle of Coke to a little boy and then winking at him. That wink from Santa is meaningful. It has been around for a long, long time both as a gimmick in holiday advertising and as yet another means of imaging the legendary gift bringer. But what most do not know is that Santa’s wink goes back much, much further than that. One of the many ancient figures that make upRead more

History of Christmas Greetings

History of Christmas Greetings

Lazy historians typically date the advent of Christmas cards to the 1840s, a time when postal services in modern western societies were well established and became more affordable. The truth is that the sending of holiday greetings is centuries old. Commercial Christmas cards got their start in the UK in the 1840s, suspiciously around the same time as the explosion in popularity of all things Christmas — from trees to holly, as spurred by popular Christmas-themed works such as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The tradition of holiday greetings, however, dates back centuries, most famously noted in the Bible when angelsRead more

The Christmas Tradition of Ghost Stories

The Christmas Tradition of Ghost Stories

The “spooky season” of Halloween has more connection to Christmas than many people realize. It comes in the form of the Christmas ghost story. In the end, both holidays at their core are a celebration of life over death, of explorations into themes of light and dark. Even the Nativity Story, innocently told through the tale of the birth of a Baby, has elements of the supernatural. Gabriel’s visit to Mary – and later to Joseph – is one that many imagine as filled first with fear and then with wonder. Gabriel, though describe as an angel, is a visitorRead more

History of the Christmas Countdown

History of the Christmas Countdown

The anticipation of Christmas is considered by many one of the great joys of the season. These days there are websites and social media groups dedicated to counting down days to Christmas and cable television channels have adopted a countdown to Christmas as a way to get all their new holiday content shown during the course of a season. Counting down to Christmas is a time-honored tradition. It is older than you might suppose. Some draw it back to advent calendars crafted by mid-19th centuries German carpenters who constructed delicately decorated wooden calendars that featured a treat for each day’sRead more