Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Around the World

The Origins of....

Hi!  I'm back and hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you had fun anyway!  I've been slacking off from the blog this week, my intentions were good but it's just been too busy and the chaos of new toys and STUFF just gets me too crazy to think :)  So now that everything has found a new home and I can see the floor again, let's learn about the origins of some of those Christmas traditions!  Let's start with the Christmas Tree...

The evergreen, full and perfectly-shaped Christmas tree is one of the most common symbols of Christmas these days.  Every house, mall. and town square has one (or two).  We strings thousands of lights, decorate it with pretty decorations, pile presents under it and even sing songs about it.  The tradition started in Germany in the 8th century as a symbol of everlasting life, but it wasn't until the mid 1800s that it caught on in the rest of the world.  In fact, when the first public tree was put up in front of a church by German settlers in 1851, the local ministers ordered that it be taken down because it was believed to be "pagan".  I guess they changed their minds.

Another Christmas tradition that always made made me wonder is Mistletoe.  Why do you kiss someone under mistletoe and what does it have to do with Christmas?  Well, it turns out it doesn't really have anything to do with Christmas but a lot to do with love.  Mistletoe has been a sacred plant in Europe since Druid / pre- Christian days when it was thought that the plant (which is an aerial parasite that grows on trees), would protect against poison, bestow life and fertility and act as an aphrodisiac!!  It played a big part is Druid mythology as the sacred plant of Frigga, the goddess of love.  It was she who declared that anyone who stood beneath mistletoe would come to no harm and should instead be given a kiss or other token of love.  I think we should start spreading some mistletoe around the world, who's with me??

I don't know about at your house, but at mine the kids are loving the Christmas carols!  I like most of them, except the 12 Days of Christmas!  That song makes no sense to me so I thought we should learn a little about it.  The 12 days of Christmas begin on Dec. 25th with the birth of Jesus and end on Jan. 6th, when he was presented to mankind as the Son of God in human form.  In early times, these 2 weeks were one constant party and celebration, sounds like a tradition we should have again :)  The song is thought by some to just be a silly song but others say that it was written in Europe in the 16th century to teach children the tenets of Catholicism.  In England, between 1558 and 1829, it was against the law to be Catholic and so some say this song was used as catechism. 

On the ____ day of Christmas my true love (God) gave to me-

1st day - a partridge in a pear tree (Jesus)
2nd day - 2 turtle doves (old and new testaments of the Bible)
3rd day - 3 french hens ( faith, love and hope )
4th day - 4 calling birds (the Gospels writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
5th day - 5 golden rings ( 1st 5 books of the Bible which is also used as the Jewish Torah)
6th day- 6 geese a-laying (6 days of creation)
7th day- 7 swans a-swimming (7 gifts of the Holy Spirit )
8th day- 8 maids a-milking ( 8 beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount)
9th day - 9 ladies dancing (9 fruits of the Holy Spirit)
10th day- 10 lords a-leaping ( 10 commandments)
11th day - 11 pipers piping ( the eleven faithful apostles )
12th day- 12 drummers drumming (12 points of belief learnt in the Apostles Creed)

Now, I'm not religious but some of those sound like a stretch to me.  That said, I 'll probably never be able to listen to that song the same way again.  Or kiss someone under the mistletoe :)  Hope you found this interesting, I kinda did.  I'm off to go play with all the new games the kids got while we still have all the pieces.  Good night and Happy 5th day of Christmas!!! FIVE GOLDEN RINGS!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. 5 GOLDEN RINGS!! I'm jealous that you can see the floor again. :-)
    I'm so glad you enjoyed your Christmas! Happy New Year, Jenny!