I adore the holidays and love to discover little facts about Christmas-time traditions. Here are some I have gathered over the years... from various sources that unfortunately, I hadn't noted. Surely from my stack of Christmas books and online!
- Santa's elves are a modernization of the "Nature folk" of Pagan religions; and the reindeer are linked to the "Horned God," which was one of the Pagan deities.
- Our tradition of Christmas wreaths come from the Romans' New Year's celebrations - they wished each other good health for the year ahead by exchanging evergreens, which they would then hang on their doors.
- "Noel" derives from "les bonnes nouvelles," and refers to the good news of the gospel.
- According to an old tradition, Norwegians believe that witches and mischievous spirits come out on Christmas Eve and steal brooms for riding. As such, they hide their brooms after dinner that night.
- In the Ukraine, a spider web found in the tree on Christmas morning is thought to bring good luck. As such, an artificial spider and web are among the decorations on Christmas trees there.
- In Sweden, on December 13, one of the darkest days of the year, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated throughout to symbolize the promise of the sun's return. In the past, a young girl would dress in a white gown with a red sash and a wreath of lit candles on her head. She would go from house to house offering baked goods.
- In the time of Mary & Joesph, animals were kept in caves, to keep them cool in the heat of the Holy Land. So Jesus would have been born in a cave, not a wooden stable.
- Also in Biblical times, a carpenter was a stone cutters - what we would now call a Mason!