Christmas Traditions


Christmas is one of the best times of the year and we are so focused on what we are going to do and how exciting all our traditions are that we sometimes overlook where some of these traditions come from. Here are a couple of traditions that you can learn more about!


Where did getting Christmas trees come from?

This tradition started in Germany when Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. However, they were not what we are used to today. Some people built pyramids out of wood and adorned them with evergreens and candles.


How did the trees come from Germany to America?

At first, Americans thought that these decorations were odd. The first display was in 1830 by German settlers in Pennsylvania. They were not entirely accepted by Americans at first but by the 1890s the trees began to be accepted and they rose in popularity.


Where do nutcrackers come from?

German folklore speaks of nutcrackers as being keepsakes to bring  luck and protection. They are said to represent strength and power and ward evil spirits away. 


Where does Santa come from? 

In the Third Century, a monk named St. Nicholas was known for his piety and kindness. It is said that he gave his inheritance away to the poor and people who were sick. He would give gifts to those in need.


Why do we give gifts at Christmas?

Christians view Christmas gifts as reflective of the gifts Jesus was brought when he was born. This view partnered with St.Nicholas giving out gifts which is how Santa came about.


Why do we make gingerbread?

Gingerbread houses became popular because of the Brothers Grimm writing the story “Hansel and Gretel.” Russian bakers would make gingerbread cookies resembling people who would be attending Christmas parties.


Why do we hang up Christmas lights? 

Christmas lights began as candles. They were put onto the Christmas tree with pins or wax paper. This tradition began in Germany and within the next 200 years had spread to many other countries around the world. In 1915, glass balls and lanterns were created to take the place of the candles. In 1882, the first electrically lit tree appeared in New York. 


Why do we do elfs on the shelf? 

This tradition began 15 years ago with a children’s book about Santa’s elves watching over children and reporting back to Santa on the behavior of the children. It is a fun tradition that helps parents encourage good behavior.