If you take the time to think about it, many of our favorite Christmas traditions are just plain weird! From bringing dead trees indoors to hanging socks by the fire, there is very little about the Christmas season that is ordinary. But how did these traditions start, and how have they transformed over the years?
If you’re curious about the historical origins of your favorite holiday traditions, this post will answer questions that you didn’t know you had. Read on to learn about the origins of five popular Christmas traditions from around the world.
Baking Christmas Cookies
There has never been a time when food wasn’t at the center of a good holiday celebration, but baking didn’t become part of our holiday traditions until the late middle ages. The holidays were a festive time, and even those without much were willing to save up for ingredients like butter and sugar. That traditional, cinnamon smell we experience around the holidays comes from early experimentation with once-rare spices that weren’t available in the past!
The Christmas Tree
One of everyone’s favorite historical holiday traditions is the tradition of the Christmas tree!
As it turns out, celebrating with evergreens isn’t exclusive to Christmastime. Nearly every religion looks to the majestic evergreen as a symbol of life in the dark winter months.
The trees were first brought into homes around the 16th century when German Christians embraced them as a symbol of the everlasting. Queen Victoria, one of the earliest influencers, followed suit. Once a royal was doing it, the world took notice, and it became one of the historical winter traditions beloved throughout the globe!
Some winter traditions aren’t based on any sort of religious practice but have become beloved symbols of Christmas nonetheless. The first snowman was first documented around the year 1380, but it’s unlikely that it was the very first. Snow is a natural and abundant material, and such materials were scant, making snowy weather an ephemeral opportunity to create.
How do we know? There are records of rich nobles commissioning snow sculptures from artists that date back to the middle ages. We even have a record of a snowman commission fulfilled by Michelangelo himself!
A Kiss Under the Mistletoe
One of the most romantic historical traditions doesn’t have very romantic origins! In Norse mythology, the gods used mistletoe to resurrect the god Baldur from the dead, which makes it sound like a better fit for Halloween! The romance came when the Norse goddess of love, Frigg, vowed to transform the plant into a symbol of love.
The tradition to kiss anyone who stood under mistletoe followed. In 18th century England, it was bad luck to refuse such a kiss!
The reason that we hang stockings begins with a story featuring our beloved Saint Nicholas. One night, old Saint Nick heard about three young sisters who were so poor that they had no prospects for marriage. Saint Nick decided to sneak down the chimney, where he found their socks drying by the fire.
Good Old Nick filled each of the girl’s socks with gold coins. Suddenly, each girl had a dowry and could marry! It was a Christmas miracle!
Keep These Christmas Traditions Going
Some of our favorite Christmas traditions started so long ago that we’ve lost track of their origins. Many of them have transformed to become beloved holiday routines that brighten up the dark winter days. Which of these jolly traditions inspired your favorite holiday memories?
Are you still feeling curious? Check out the rest of the blog for more posts that will teach you something new!