According to old customs, holly should never be brought into your house before Christmas Eve or bad luck will result. The customs were writ before the advent of the recycling wheelie bin, of course, so you might be able to circumvent them in that way. But perhaps a safer bet is to store holly and ivy in the house until next year — apparently, this is a sure-fire way of preventing a lightning strike on your home.
Perhaps you could save a sprig of holly to stick on top of the Christmas pudding, like what you see on Christmas cards but never actually in real life. It was once thought to be lucky to partake in the act of making the pudding, especially if the pudding was stirred east-to-west. But be careful getting there; on that night cattle are said to kneel down and speak in human voices.
And those leaving church on Christmas Eve while the consecration is still going on are bang-on guaranteed to witness a procession of ghosts wending their way through the streets. Speaking of supernatural beings abroad on Christmas Eve, what about the big man himself? Father Christmas, Santa, Saint Nick. Why do we hang a stocking out for him?
But though the company did debut ads featuring Father Christmas enjoying a Coke and a smile in , he had been seen in his more familiar red once or twice before then. Nothing sinister about that. But perhaps we can bring the ancient mythology story of the goddess Cybele and the mortal Attis into this. Rather displeased, Cybele sent Attis mad, and he ran in a crazy rage through the mountains, eventually for reasons best known to himself castrating himself at the foot of a pine tree.
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Tiny nativity figures were placed inside it. For the finishing touch, a sprig of mistletoe was tied to the bottom of the ball. It was then hung from the ceiling, and party goers would play kissing games underneath it. A kiss under the mistletoe could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and good will.
When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases. Puck, a popular magazine, shows the mistletoe tradition, , via Library of Congress. Caroling and parties were merely a seasonal form of begging. By the end of the 16th century, dried fruit was more plentiful in England and plum pudding made the shift from savory to sweet. Alas, the Puritans in England thought that celebrations of Christmas were getting too pagan hah! In the Puritans were deposed and Christmas pudding, along with the English monarchy, was restored. Most recipes for Christmas pudding require it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated on Christmas day, so Stir-Up Sunday came to be associated with a reminder to make the pudding.
The stirring must be in a clockwise direction, with eyes shut, while making a secret wish.
You can find a recipe for Figgy Pudding here. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December. Detail of altar to Sol 1st century. Source: romanpagan.
Christmas was a riotous holiday until it was banned in England from to as pagan excess and fell out of vogue. The comparatively modern American ritual became popular two centuries later in the Victorian era. Note: Not all countries celebrate Christmas on December Nicholas Eve, and Dutch children eagerly await the arrival of Sinterklaas on St. Nicholas Day on December 6. Spain begins celebrating the Christmas season on December 8, with a weeklong observance of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
In Sweden, the Christmas festivities begin on December 13 with St. Ethiopia follows the ancient Julian calendar, so Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7. Gifts were not always wrapped — it became widely popular to do so in Legend tells us that St. Santa the gift-giver is truly multicultural — a few examples are the Turkish St. Selena Fox indicated that offerings for Holda were left on the rooftop while the Swedish put food out for the gnome-like tomten. The History Channel website explains :. Now, however, those stockings are usually chock-full of treats and smaller gifts for the family members themselves.
Leaving cookies and milk for Santa—and perhaps a few carrots for his reindeer—took off as an American holiday tradition in the s, during the Great Depression. In that time of great economic hardship, many parents tried to teach their children that it was important to give to others and to show gratitude for the gifts they were lucky enough to receive on Christmas. Some 80 years later, many children still set out cookies and milk for Santa, whether out of the goodness of their hearts or in less wholesome cases as a bribe to receive more gifts from the jolly bearded man in the red suit.
An NPR article contends that the Victorians had a lot to do with the popularity of this custom. The edition featured a cartoon by a famous illustrator called Thomas Nast. The New York Times reports :. Year-round the North Pole had the snow that was becoming associated in the popular image with Christmas the American publishers of magazines, books, and cards carrying Christmas illustrations were headquartered in the snowy Northeast. The first Christmas creche was a living Nativity staged by St. Francis of Assisi in in Italy. According to a Catholic Education website, in the year , St.
Francis, a deacon, was visiting the town of Grecio to celebrate Christmas. Francis realized that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to hold the congregation for Midnight Mass, So he found a niche in the rock near the town square and set up the altar.
Then, according to St. Bonaventure d. Francis of Assisi:. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff.
Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St.
The poor relations the Norvilles live at Baldeen. Another Daisy Dalrymple book finished. Advanced registration is required and early bird pricing ends June 1. Westbrook is not present, preferring to be elsewhere for the Christmas break, and his relations, the Norvilles, host the festivities. Ivy, holly's mate, in ancient Grecian rites took its name from the girl who danced with such abandon and joy before Dionysius that she fell dead at his feet. Word Wise: Enabled. Herford, Charles.
Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King. Again according to unverified legend, after Martin Luther saw stars twinkling in the sky between boughs of the evergreens on Christmas, he is said to have placed the first candles on his tree.