Christmas – a religious holiday that has been celebrated around the world for hundreds of years. Every year around this time I get questions from my students about Christmas, about how the celebrations started, who decided how to celebrate and many more. This year, I decided to find some answers. Christmas – the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, with all the beautiful decorations, presents under the tree, children waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus, large meals shared with family and friends – has a place in everyone’s memory, it’s always been like that, it’s always been there.
Did you know? Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
Did you know? The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking. In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.
Did you know? Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.
Did you know? In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous.
Did you know? In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.
Did you know? From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.
Did you know? Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
Did you know? The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.
Did you know? Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.
Did you know? The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.
Did you know? Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
Did you know? Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.
Did you know? Christmas 2016 is right around the corner. Only a few more days.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL
(source: History Channel, http://www.history.com, The History of Christmas)
written by Silke Hansen, ESL Instructor