I was Internet surfing the other day and I ran across several sites that explain the meanings behind many of our Christmas holiday traditions. I thought I would share a few abbreviated traditions with you this month.
Wreaths-were made of woven branches and twigs. They are now used as a symbol of the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus’ head before the crucifixion. The use of wreaths dates back to Greek and Roman times. They were a symbol of victory.
Bells-were used in pagan traditions to scare away evil spirits. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow originally composed the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day in 1864.
Stockings-there are two possible stories about stockings. The oldest reference to the use of stockings is found among in the writings of Washington Irving in New York in the year 1809.His story described how Santa leaves gifts in stockings that children hang by the chimney. Another tale talks about a father who didn’t have any money to give his daughters’ to get married. The daughters left their stockings on the mantle to dry by the fire on Christmas Eve. They were surprised to find in the morning that Santa had filled their stockings with gold coins, and they could afford to be married after all.
Christmas Lights-Edward H. Johnson (a partner of Thomas Edison) introduced Christmas lights in 1882. He hand made a strand of 80 lights, and put them on his own Christmas tree.
Poinsettias-the Christmas legend of the poinsettia comes from Mexico. It is said that a child who could not afford to buy a gift for Christ, instead picked weeds on the roadside while on her way to church. As she entered the church the weeds were miraculously transformed into poinsettias.
Christmas Cards-the first professionally created Christmas card was painted and printed in England by John Calcott Horsley in 1843. He produced the cards for a man named Sir Henry Cole. The first printed Christmas cards in the United States were created by a German immigrant named Louis Prang in 1875.