This Christmas season, I observed wreathes on the doors, Christmas trees in all the squares and people wearing Santa Claus’s hats. I wanted to know the stories behind these traditions.
Why do people hang wreaths in front of their doors?
Wreaths are circular in shape and made of flowers, leaves, fruits and twigs.
The wreath is a symbol of Christian immortality. The circular shape of the wreath is the symbol of eternal life, because the shape has no beginning or end. The wreath also symbolizes strength of life. It is made with evergreens, which can withstand the harshest winters. Wreaths are made with materials that look attractive, so that they spread cheer in the bleak winter.
In Ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths to show their rank, achievements or status. The custom of hanging the wreath in front of the door probably originated from this practice and continues to this day.
Why people have Christmas trees in their homes?
The evergreen fir tree was used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands of years. The branches of fir tree were used as decorations during winter solstice to remind people about the arrival of spring.
The first person who may have brought Christmas tree into home could be a 16th century German preacher named Martin Luther. On Christmas eve Martin ventured into the forest and looked at the bright stars through the branches of a fir tree and was mesmerized by the beauty of the moment. The tree reminded him of Jesus Christ who gave up the stars of heaven to come to Earth. To recapture the scene for his family, he cut the tree, brought it to his home and decorated with lighted candles.
The Christmas tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or cookies (yummy!). The present Christmas trees can be found adorned non-edible ornaments and twinkling lights.
Who is Santa Claus and why does he give gifts?
The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back to a monk named Saint Nicholas. St. Nicholas was born around 280 A.D, in modern-day Turkey. St. Nicholas was a generous person who donated all his inherited wealth and devoted his life to helping the poor and needy. Over time, St. Nicholas’s popularity spread and he was known as the protector of children and sailors.
The modern portrayal of Santa Claus is created by Clement Clarke Moore, a New York Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature. In 1822 he wrote a 56 lined poem named as ‘Visit from St. Nicholas’, also known as ‘The Night before Christmas’.
Moore gave new characteristics to St. Nicholas in the poem. He portrayed Santa Claus as a jolly, dimpled elf, who gave gifts to children and rode on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Another New York illustrator, Thomas Nast, changed Moore’s jolly old elf into a taller, grander and a portly Santa Claus that we know today.
Enjoy the pics …
Quote for this post: The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. – Burton Hillis
Information from the below links is adapted in this post.