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

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 toRead 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.Read more

Tips to Prepare for Christmas Card Sending

Tips to Prepare for Christmas Card Sending

It is our tradition to announce and open our annual Christmas card exchange during our Christmas-in-July festivities each year. In advance of that we thought it best to share with you some tips for preparing for the sending and receiving of approximately 100 cards from around the world as part of the exchange. Many of us have done this now for over a decade. In a time where the world has seen a decline in the practice of sending cards we have merrily clung to the tradition for many reasons. For many of us the joy of receiving this mailRead more

Top Five New Christmas Traditions of the 21st Century

Top Five New Christmas Traditions of the 21st Century

We had a big response to our recent post about dying Christmas traditions. But if Christmas has proven one thing over the centuries it has been a resilient ability to constantly evolve into ever creative new levels of celebration. For example, the Christmas tree wasn’t always a part of Christmas. While historians lay claim to the idea that pagans gave rise to the tradition long before Christianity, as this video points out the celebration of the tree as a religious symbol really pre-dates it all. Regardless, the modern Christmas tree didn’t really get its start until the mid-19th century. AndRead more

Five Dying Christmas Traditions

Five Dying Christmas Traditions

Once upon a time Christmas was celebrated with tinsel on trees. Tinsel is an ancient product with roots more than 400 years old where it was crafted to represent ice. Originally placed on statues and made from actual silver, tinsel has morphed over the ages to be made from other, cheaper materials. Once quite popular during the 20th century it hasn’t found a lot of love in the 21st century. In fact, it is a Christmas tradition that is dying. And the reason seems to be nothing more or less than convenience. There are so many other choices in ChristmasRead more

Christmas in Ireland

Christmas in Ireland

The Irish get more than their share of love every St. Patrick’s Day but they feel a little left out when it comes to Christmas. That is unfortunate because many of the ancient elements of Christmas have Irish roots. The most Irish of Christmas songs, Christmas in Killarney, briefly references some of the ancient Irish tie-ins to Christmas: The holly green, the ivy green The prettiest picture you’ve ever seen The holly and the ivy – long sung at Christmas and long associated with the color green – is both highly symbolic and meaningful to the Irish. Ever green plantsRead more

Frankincense

Frankincense

They came from distant lands, these kings and wanderers following a star. With them they packed precious gifts fit for a King: gold, myrrh and frankincense. We know what gold is and we know that myrrh was considered then to be an ointment of great value in the lands of the desert. But what is frankincense? Frankincense is the sap of the Frankincense tree, found these days in the lands of Arabia, Ethiopia, Somalia and India. It is used now much as it was then – as incense. When the sap dries and becomes hard the yellow lumps of resinRead more