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. But even more complex is the advent of Christmas in July, an odd seasonal celebration of what is typically associated withRead 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. I credit three very separate and different events for teaching this to me over the years. The first happened whenRead 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 the divine. In fact, most elves with ancient pedigrees in Scandinavian folklore are downright naughty, if not outright evil and nasty.Read 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 this year? Use your pet’s favorite treat to bribe them to sit still for a shot in a Santa hat orRead 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 up the modern legendary character of Santa Claus is the Norse mythological figure of Odin. Odin carries several striking similarities toRead 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 angels conveyed “glad tidings of great joy” to the shepherds abiding their flocks by night. Christmas greetings have been conveyed inRead 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 visitor from another sphere – a ghost by any other definition. But if you escape the scary elements of apparitions andRead 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’s door that is opened leading up to Christmas. Those early advent calendars have given way to a wide variety ofRead more

Christmas Trains

Christmas Trains

For more than a century trains were the center piece of mass transportation. This time in culture also saw the rise of the industrial revolution and, as well, the media-driven mass popularity of the secular Christmas. The real connection of trains to Christmas was born of the fact that going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for the holidays was best accomplished by trains and it happened every Christmas. In fact, more people moved by train in November and December over the course of those 100 years than by any other method. If you wanted to be home for Christmas, you very simply had to take the train. But the real kicker for when it comesRead more

Five Weird American Christmas Traditions the World Misunderstands

Five Weird American Christmas Traditions the World Misunderstands

There is plenty to Christmas around the world that people consider weird. Krampus, for example, is strange. The popularity of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan on Christmas Eve is another weird one. But when it comes to Christmas no place is known for weird better than America. While Christmas wasn’t born in the United States it sure has taken it over. And that dismays much of the world that still considers Christmas a sacred and religious festival. The secular growth of Christmas in America is what lends the odd elements of it that people around the world consider so strange. Americans who read this might not think a thing of these items below. But to the world these five thingsRead more

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