Christmas Traditions

What are the origins of our Christmas traditions?

  • Today Christmas is probably the most well known of all the Christian festivals but that was not always the case. The early Christians did not even celebrate Christmas and it is not until about 200 years after Jesus was born that we get the first mention of any celebration. Although the Bible gives details about Jesus’ birth it does not give any date and many scholars doubt that December 25th was actually his birthday. The modern Armenian church actually celebrates Christmas on January 6th.

    So how did our Christmas traditions begin?

    FESTIVALS-CHRISTMASTRAD-CARDS

    Christmas cards

     

    The very first Christmas card was made in 1843. Henry Cole had it designed, and printed 1000 of them.

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    Advent Calendar

     

    One December a mother cut a cake into 24 pieces and put them onto a piece of cardboard. Her little boy got to eat one piece each day until Christmas.That little boy grew up to be a printer. He always remembered what his mother had done, and in 1903 he produced the first Advent Calendar.

  • FESTIVALS-CMASTRAD-SANTA

    Santa Claus

     

    The name Santa Claus comes from Saint Nicholas who was Bishop of Myra, which is now in Turkey.

    FESTIVALS-CMASTRAD-CAROLS

    Christmas Carols

     

    The first Christmas Carols came from France. The singers would dance as they sang - the word 'carol' means a circling dance.

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    Christmas tree

     

    The tradition of the modern Christmas tree was likely started in the 8th century with St. Boniface, a Christian monk who was working and living in what is now Germany.

  • FESTIVALS-CMASTRAD-present

    Christmas presents

     

    One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.

    Gold_star_christmas_ornament

    Star

     

    A star is usually placed on the Christmas tree to remind people of the star that brought the Wise Men to Jesus. Read more about the Christmas story here.

     

    Peppermint_candy_cane_03

    Candy Canes

     

    The candy cane began as an all-white, straight, sugar treat, and is believed to have been invented by French priests in the early part of the 15th century. It took on the shape of a shepherd's crook as a reminder of the shepherds who visited Jesus.

  • crib

    Crib

     

    Tradition says that Christmas cribs began with St Francis of Assisi who in 1220 celebrated Mass in a cave with a manger and real animals. Today for Christians Nativity scenes are a visible reminder of that night when Jesus was born.

    Jesus Birth_14

    December 25th

     

    No one knows the real birthday of Jesus! No date is given in the Bible, so why do we celebrate it on the 25th December? There are many theories of why this date was chosen. One of the most popular theories claims that December 25th might have been chosen because the Winter Solstice and the ancient Roman midwinter festivals called 'Saturnalia' and 'Dies Natalis Solis Invicti' took place in December around this date - so it was a time when people already celebrated things.

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