Historical Facts About Our Christmas Traditions

No matter how you may celebrate Christmas, there is no celebration that is complete without a tree, delicious treats or a carol or two. The reason why so many people still stick to these traditions today is probably because those traditions were started many centuries ago.

Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on December 25th?

The reason why we celebrate Christmas on this date is a bit of a mystery. While the holiday is recognized as the day Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, the Bible doesn’t specify the exact date of Jesus’s birth. This has been a topic of debate for Christians throughout the years.

It was initially believed that Christ’s birthday was o January 6th, because April 6th was assumed to be the day that Jesus died. And there as a corresponding belief that prophets died on the same day as their conception.

But as we entered the 4th century, Christians had changed their minds and set the date for December 25th. There are some sources who say that this new date was purposely chosen to draw attention away from a pagan winter solstice ritual that fell on the same day. But others say that isn’t the case. All that we know for sure is that regardless of the reason why, that date is the one that stuck.

Why Do We Bake Christmas Cookies?

If there is one thing that is consistent in history with the holidays, it’s that they are always accompanied by good food. Ancient people gathered around the winter solstice to feast before cold weather destroyed all their crops. And the wine and beer that had been fermenting since Spring was finally ready to drink.

When Christmas took the place of the winter solstice traditions during the Middle Ages, the feasting continued, but now it had the all-important addition of dessert. Bakers would bring out expensive ingredients such as butter, lard and sugar for the festive occasion. And they also started to experiment with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. The result was delicious Christmas cookies made to be shared with friends and family.

Why Do We Put Up a Christmas Tree?

The Evergreen Fir is a universal winter decoration that is enjoyed by many different beleifs. Pagans once displayed the branches as a reminder that spring would come again. In Ancient Roman times, people would place them around temples to honor Saturn, the god of agriculture. But the first time that the evergreen was used as a Christmas tree was either in Tallinn, Estonia or Riga, Latvia, each of these cities claim that they are the true home of the first Christmas tree.

In the 16th century, German Christians brought the tree inside their homes as a symbol of everlasting life. When the news spread that Queen Victoria had her German husband Prince Albert to set up a Christmas tree in their palace, the practice suddenly became the height of interior design in both England and America.

Why Do We Put Lights On the Tree?

Martin Luther was said to be the first person to put lights on a Christmas tree. According to the legend, he was walking through a forest one night and was moved by the beautiful stars shining through the trees. When he got home, he recreated what he saw for his family by putting a tree in their living room and placing lighted candles on its branches.

Why Do We Build Snowm

The first documented snowman showed up in 1380, but mankind has probably been making snowmen for as long as there’s been snow. They were believed to be popular during the Middle Ages, when men lacked the proper resources or outlets for artistic expressions.

So, instead of trying to find traditional art supplies, they turned to snow. And there was plenty of it. Michelangelo was commissioned to build a snowman for the ruler of Florence. But not all snowmen were happy, jolly souls According to the fascinating history of the snowman, they’ve also played roles in political uprisings and massacres.

Why Do We Drink Eggnog?

Eggnog may not seem like a particularly elite type of drink, but that’s how it got its start. The British aristocrats came up with the creamy concoction as a warm winter drink and added brandy and sherry to it to keep it from spoiling. Because the ingredients were so expensive only the wealthy could afford to drink it. When it made its way to the American colonies in the 1700’s, colonists subbed the high-cost liquors for rum. At the time, rum was also called grog, so bartenders named the drink egg-n-grog, later it became eggnog after the wooden “noggin” mugs the drink was served in.