3 Fun Christmas Traditions & Where They Came From
With just days to go until Christmas, we thought it'd be fun to learn more about where some of our favorite traditions come from. From the stockings on the fireplace to the decorating of a tree, each of these cherished traditions have a beautiful origin story that we hope you'll share with your own family this holiday season.
1. Christmas Stockings
Today, many of us have a colorful stocking that only comes out around this time of year and only serves the purpose of collecting small toys and treats. But like all our traditions on this list, Christmas Stockings have a much more humble beginning.
The story goes that a recently widowed man was worried about the marriage prospects of his three daughters. He was concerned because they didn't have much as a family, and he was worried that that would deter would-be suiters.
On Christmas night, St. Nicholas had heard from the local townspeople the sad story of the family who had recently lost a wife/mother, and he decided he wanted to help. Later that evening, he snuck into the home through the chimney and found the recently washed stockings of the young girls drying over the fireplace.
In the stockings, he put 3 gold coins. In the morning, the family woke to this wonderful surprise and the man's concern faded as he realized there would be a future for his three daughters thanks to the generous St. Nicholas. From this point on, it was a tradition to hang stockings in the home so that there was a place for St. Nicholas to put his gifts.
2. Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree tradition dates back to our pagan ancestors. Many ancient groups believed that the sun was a god and in the weeks preceding the winter solstice, they would worry that the sun was sick because of the shortening days. After the winter solstice, the days would get longer and many believed that because of the longer days, it meant that the sun was feeling better. To help the sun get through this tough time, people across many cultures would collect the boughs of a tree that could last through all seasons, the evergreen.
The collection of these boughs becoming today's Christmas tree took place in 16th century Germany when Christians would combine the collection of the evergreen boughs with the celebration of Christmas in the form of a decorated tree. It is believed that Martin Luther was the first to add candles to his boughs when he was walking home one evening and remarked on the beauty of the stars in the night sky.
German immigrants began bringing the Christmas tree to America in the 18th century, but it was not until late into the 19th century that the tradition caught on.
3. Cookies for Santa
It is believed that the tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa is actually rooted in ancient Norse mythology. Children would leave out treats to encourage the supreme god, Odin, and his horse to stop by their home to leave them gifts during the Christmas season. In fact, in many Nordic countries; children still believe Santa Clause rides on a horse versus a sleigh.
In the US, it is believed that this tradition was popularized during the Great Depression as a way to teach their children to be generous and to learn to be appreciative of the gifts they received from Santa. We love the idea of sharing this valuable life lesson with our children in both times of hardship and prosperity!
What are your favorite holiday traditions? Do you know their history? Share in the comments!