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Some Christmas Traditions



Many countries share similar Christmas traditions, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees and Christmas cards. Where did these traditions come from?

What is Christmas Eve?

Before International dates, time zones and the like were introduced, days used to begin at sunset. This meant that the evening was the beginning of the day. So Christmas Eve was actually Christmas day, back then. Now, because days begin at midnight, Christmas Eve falls on December 24. In some countries the main celebration of Christmas is still held on December 24, after sunset, following the old tradition.

Who is Santa Claus?

Most people think that Santa Claus has nothing to do with the religious side of Christmas. In some ways they are right. However, Santa Claus is actually supposed to be Saint Nicholas. Up until the 1930�s he was shown in paintings to look like an ordinary person, dressed normally but wearing a red cloak. Then in the 1930�s the Coca-Cola Company ran an advertisement showing Santa Claus the way we know him now; rather fat and jolly, with his red suit and long white whiskers. He was much more appealing to children this way, and so the image stuck. How St Nicholas got dragged into Christmas is another story.

Where Do Christmas Trees Come From?

Christmas trees were originally part of the German Christmas celebrations. Like St. Nicholas, they have gradually been adopted and incorporated into Christmas tradition around the world. In Germany the tree is still one of the most important parts of the celebrations for children. Traditionally the tree held candles, fruit, nuts and cookies, but now it also has tinsel, glitter ornaments and toys hanging from it. It is put up during the afternoon of Christmas Eve, in a locked room, and children only get to see it after eating a special meal. In Germany children are told either Santa Klaus or the Kristkind (Christ child) put up the tree.

How Did Christmas Cards begin?

Christmas cards were introduced in Britain in 1840, with the postal service, and penny stamps. In those days a penny was a lot of money, and printed cards were very expensive and hard to come by. As the postal service improved, along with printing methods, cards became more popular. By about 1860 they were fairly common.

When they first began, Christmas cards showed religious scenes and often had religious text in them. Nowadays, they can have just about any picture on them, including winter scenes, and most do not contain any reference to religion.


These are just a few of the many traditions associated with Christmas. Why not purchase this report on Christmas Around the World to learn more? It includes some of the shared traditions, background information on why Christmas is celebrated when it is and a look at some of the traditions of individual countries. It is packed with information, activities, recipes and more. To find out more about it email me.

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