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Old 12-26-2003, 04:06 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: USA
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Why do people give each other presents on Christmas Day?
The tradition of gifts seems to have started with the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus.
No one was really in the habit of exchanging elaborate gifts until late in the 1800s. The Santa
Claus story combined with an amazing retailing phenomenon that has grown since the turn of the
century has made gift giving a central focus of the Christmas tradition. 1867 was the first year
that Macy's department store in New York City remained open until midnight on Christmas Eve.
Why is there a small evergreen tree in the living room?
This is a German tradition, started as early as 700 A.D. In the 1800s the tradition of a
Christmas tree was widespread in Germany, then moved to England and then to America through
Pennsylvanian German immigrants. The Christmas tree is one of the most recognizable images of
the season. For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.
When did the tree come to be decorated?
In Victorian times, people had already started decorating trees with candies and cakes hung
with ribbon. In 1880, Woolworth’s first sold manufactured Christmas tree ornaments, and they
caught on very quickly. Martin Luther, in the 16th century, is credited as being the first person to put
candles on a tree, and the first electrically lighted Christmas tree appeared in 1882. Calvin Coolidge in 1923

ceremoniously lit the first outdoor tree at the White House, starting that long tradition.
What is the purpose of holly?
The church forbade the use of mistletoe in any form, mindful of its idolatrous associations.
As a substitute, it suggested holly. The sharply pointed leaves were to symbolize the thorns
in Christ's crown and the red berries drops of his blood. Holly became a nativity tradition.
The Christian ban on mistletoe was in effect throughout the Middle Ages. Surprisingly, as late
as the 20th century, there were churches in England that forbade the wearing of mistletoe sprigs
and corsages during services.
What is the Yule Log?
"Yuletide" for "Christmastime" is a term derived from the Yule log, which in olden days was a
huge log used as the foundation of the holiday fires. Bringing the Yule log in was, as recently
as the 19th century, as much a part of the pre-Christmas festivities as putting up an evergreen
tree today. "Yule" can be traced back to the Middle English "Yollen" (cry aloud) and is thought
to date from early Anglo-Saxon revels in celebration of the discovery (after the winter solstice)
that nights were becoming shorter.
Why are there oversized socks hanging on your mantel?
According to a very old tradition, the original Saint Nicholas left his very first gifts of gold coins in the

stockings of three poor girls who needed the money for their wedding dowries. The girls had hung their stockings by the fire to dry.
What, exactly, are the 12 days of Christmas?
The 12 days of Christmas are the 12 days that separate Christmas day on December 25 from
Epiphany, which is celebrated January 6. Depending on the church, January 6 may mark Christ's
baptism (the Catholic tradition), or it may mark the day that the wise men visited the baby
Jesus with their gifts. In the past, there was a tradition of giving gifts throughout the 12
days, rather than stacking them all up on the morning of December 25. That tradition, as you
might imagine, has never really caught on in America! The song, however, demonstrates that
some people once stretched out their gifts (and gave some fairly elaborate gifts...) over the full 12 days.
Here is a complete list of the 12 symbols with their meanings:
1 Partridge in a pear tree = The One true God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = First Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch" which contain the law
condemning us of our sins.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
Who is Santa Claus?
Starting with a real person, Saint Nicholas, a minor saint from the fourth century, it is
amazing but true that the common, popular view of Santa that we all have today, along with all
the crazy things around Santa like the sleigh, the reindeer and the chimney, all came largely
from two publishing events that occurred in the 1800s and one advertising campaign in this
century. Clement Moore wrote "The Night Before Christmas" in 1822 for his family. It was picked
up by a newspaper, then reprinted in magazines and it spread like wildfire. If you read the poem
you will find that he names the reindeer, invents the sleigh, comes up with the chimney and the
bag of toys, etc. Then, between 1863 and 1886, Harper's Weekly (a popular magazine of the time)
ran a series of engravings by Thomas Nast. From these images come the concepts of Santa's
workshop, Santa reading letters, Santa checking his list and so on. Coca-Cola also played a
role in the Santa image by running a set of paintings by Haddon Sundblom in its ads between 1931
to 1964. But the red and white suit came, actually, from the original Saint Nicholas. Those
colors were the colors of the traditional bishop's robes.
Who is Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer?
The whole story of Rudolf appeared, out of nowhere, in 1939. Santas at Montgomery Ward stores
gave away 2.4 million copies of a booklet entitled "Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer." A person in
the advertising department named Robert May wrote the story, and the booklet was illustrated by
Denver Gillen. The original name of the reindeer was not Rudolf, but instead Rollo, but
executives did not like that name, nor Reginald. The name Rudolf came from the author's young
daughter! In 1949, Gene Autry sang a musical version of the poem and it was a run-away best
seller. The Rudolf song is second only to "White Christmas" in popularity.
Why is Christmas sometimes spelled Xmas?
According to the book Did you ever Wonder... by Jeff Rovin, the word for Christ in Greek is
Xristos. The use of the shortened form "Xmas" became popular in Europe in the 1500s.
Why are wreaths hung from doors?
The use of a Christmas wreath as a decoration on your front door, mantel or bay window
symbolizes a sign of welcome and long life to all who enter.
What is the Epiphany?
Epiphany, 6th of January, is the traditional end of the Christmas holiday and is the date on
which we take down the tree and decorations. To do so earlier is thought to bring bad luck for
the rest of the year. From the middle ages until the mid-nineteenth century, Twelfth Night was
more popular than Christmas day, and even today some countries celebrate Epiphany as the most
important day of the Christmas season.

Today, about two billion Christmas cards are exchanged every year in the United States!
That's 2 billion yucky tasting envelopes to lick!

source: C/P'd from an email....
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