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BellaOnline's Folklore and Mythology Editor

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History of a Traditional Christmas


The ending of another year falls upon us just as quickly as a new one approaches us. But, not before we all gather in celebration for a very festive Christmas time. This is one such holiday in which people of the world, no matter where they may be from, seem to find a very favorable time of the year. In current times, we light candles, make gifts, sing together, and share a certain spirit of generosity and joy. Shall we look back in time at Christmas history to see how our traditions have come into being so widely shared?

Did you know that the first ever Christmas greeting card was send in 1843? It was a very elaborately designed card with a lithograph painted by hand and showing a gathering of family in celebration with glasses of wine. This card read, “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You,” and only approximately 1,000 of these were ever printed. We can hold the gratitude towards Sir Henry Cole that this idea was ever imagined. A London based businessman who later became the founder of Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Henry Cole decided to spread the Christmas cheer by sending Christmas greeting cards to his family and friends, and we continue even still today to do the same.

Another fun and interesting Christmas fact may come as bit of a surprise to you. Are you familiar with the chocolate candy oranges that are available in stores and candy shops during Christmas? They come wrapped in foil and are broken apart into individual candy orange slices. Well, if you are a fan of these, you may be interested in hearing about the Peppermint Pigs that were part of a traditional Christmas during the Victorian era in Saratoga Springs, New York. These Christmas candies were fashioned in the mold of pigs, as they were symbols of good luck, health, and prosperity. Like the chocolate candy oranges, the Peppermint Pigs were broken into pieces and shared amongst family members and friends as well.

There is no doubt that children look forward each year to finally seeing their favorite Christmas character climbing down the chimney on Christmas Eve with his big bag of toys and jolly laughter. Who exactly is this cheerful man, named in earlier eras “Father Christmas?” Originally, he was depicted in the Victorian era as a man who was aged with a long bear and a robe with fur trim, symbolizing Christmas cheer and feasting. His robe has been thought to be red, green, blue, and brown alike. It wasn’t until the latter part of the 1870's that Father Christmas was the holiday character who brought children toys and filled their stockings with candies and fruits. Today, Santa Claus or St. Nick still surprised children all over the world, riding in his reindeer led sleigh all dressed in a red suit and gnome like hat.

These different traditional aspects of the Christmas holiday have been celebrated for a long while. You can definitely see how we have adopted most all of these original ideas and made them our own. Today, we still send Christmas cards, have Christmas dinners, and share Christmas candies, all while the children are patiently waiting to get a peek of Santa Claus climbing down the chimney.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Robin Henderson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Robin Henderson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Robin Henderson for details.

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