Christmas – traditionally a time for family and friends, giving and receiving, indulging and enjoying. Every home has their own traditions at this time; but there are some that are shared across the country.
So let’s look at some popular Christmas activities and their origins:
- Decorations – this is one of the oldest activities associated with winter festivals; as early as Roman times people brought branches from evergreen trees and plants into their houses in the winter. This has since evolved into the Christmas tree and wreaths in windows and on doors.
- Music and Carols – the singing of Christmas hymns has been around since the fourth century in Rome. Christmas carols appear for the first time on England in 1426 and were probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house.
- Food – one of the biggest parts of the festive tradition is the Christmas dinner. The food varies from country to country but in the UK it usually involves a turkey or other roasted poultry, stuffing, gravy, pigs-in-blankets, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes and vegetables. For dessert there is Christmas pudding with custard or brandy sauce then mince pies or trifle.
- The Christmas pudding – many traditions are associated with the Christmas pudding; every member of the household has to stir the mix and make a wish, it should be made on last the Sunday before Advent, small silver coins or charms were added and whoever got it in their dinner got to keep them for luck.
- Cards – Christmas cards are a relatively late addition to the Christmas season only appearing commercially in the mid 1800’s. This tradition does seem to be on the decline with the onset of the electronic age, however.
- Gift giving – this was a common activity in the Roman festive of Saturnalia, which was held at the end of December. The association with Christmas began with St Nicholas who had a reputation for gift giving.
- Gift bringing figures – Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Pere Noel, Weihnachtsmann, Christkind, Kris Kringle, Babbo Natale, Saint Basil and Father Frost. These are a few of the names of the big guy.
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