Most holidays these days are so hyped by the marketing companies that they sometimes loose their meaning. Christmas is come up and what do we think of? Candy canes, Christmas trees, gifts, expenses, holiday parties, red and white, Santa, family, etc. A lot of things we do out of habit or tradition but what does it really mean?
Someone took an existing form of candy, which was a white stick of sugar candy, and made a bent version of it representing a shepherds crook. These were handed out to kids on good behavior, they were also especially handed out during ceremonies to keep the kids quiet.
Christmas trees came long before Christianity. The ancients would hang evergreen over their doors and windows because they believed that the evergreen would keep away evil spirits and illness. In the northern hemisphere the shortest day and longest night of the year would be on either Dec. 21 or 22 and they called it winter solstice. Some ancient people believed that this is when the sun god was weak or sick. The celebrated this time because that meant the sun god would get well again. The evergreen reminded them of the plants what would grow again once the sun god was strong again.
Germany is credited for starting the Christmas tree tradition when Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. People also built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them.
On the nineteenth century, most Americans found Christmas trees to be odd when German settlers of Pennsylvania had community trees. Most American at the time thought the Christmas trees were a pagan symbol.
However, in 1846, Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert were sketched in an illustration standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Since Victoria was popular, Christmas trees became the latest fad.
With Christmas trees came Christmas ornaments.
St. Nicholas has been around for hundreds of years. He was a monk in what is now Turkey. He was admired for his kind nature; he was very giving and cared for the less fortunate and the ill.
The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas).
It came with the image of stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace.
In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families so they began dressing up men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets to solicit donations. This concept still exists today.
The New York Times reported on Nov. 27, 1927, “A standardized Santa Claus appears to New York children. Height, weight, stature are almost exactly standardized, as are the red garments, the hood and the white whiskers. The pack full of toys, ruddy cheeks and nose, bushy eyebrows and a jolly, paunchy effect are also inevitable parts of the requisite make-up.”