Christmas, Santa Claus and Other Holiday Trivia
Do you enjoy Christmas as much as you used to?
There are a lot of wonderful traditions that we adhere to during the holidays; especially during Christmas time.There is the food, the songs, the tinsel.There are the smells, the colors and fictional characters such as Frosty the Snowman, Jack Frost, and Santa and his reindeer.
Although, it is far too easy to fall into the lull of the Christmas spirit (and then into the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping), sometimes we don’t stop to ask where some of these great Christmas iconography comes from. Where do things like the Christmas tree originate from? Why do we cover everything in green and red?
The following is a list of some Christmas trivia that you might find fun and informative.
Santa Claus is based off of Saint Nicholas (a real historical person), who was a 4th century Greek Bishop. Known as Saint Nicholas the Wonder-Worker, he act as a secret gift giver (placing coin in the soles of shoe that had been left out for him).
“Sinterklaas” is Dutch for “Saint Klaus” -- short for Nicholas.
The Christmas characterization of Santa Claus has varied through the ages through songs and literature.
One of the most memorable stories is “A Visit From St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore published in 1823.
In it, Moore depicted Saint Nick as more of an Impish / Elfish character (a tiny person), but the tale included the chimney, the stockings, the presents and the flying sly and the original eight reindeer (along with their name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen, (Donder and Blitzen are the German names / spelling that are more well-known, as opposed to the original Dutch names / spellings of Dunder and Blixem used by Moore in the original publication) . This tale has cemented the vast majority of the modern Christmas lore.
As for the visual image of Santa Claus as the jolly, bearded man, in a red and white suit,it is generally accepted to be invented by the Coca-Cola Company’s Christmas advertisements in the 1930’s. (see picture)
The Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree (much like the Christmas colors and Saint Claus) has both a pre-Christian and Catholic origin tales.
It is possible that the Christmas tree is orginally based on a Norse religious tradition of revering nature through trees; such one one known as Thor’s Oak, (also called Donar’s Oak, and Jove’s Oak) which was a sacred tree of Norse Mythology. This tree is could be based upon the Yggdarsil, the Norse mythological world tree.
Also, in Christian belief, the founder of Catholic Reformation, Martin Luther, was said to be the first to add candles to a tree. This was symbolic in remembering the “Paradise Tree” of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which is meant to symbolizes eternal life.
The stockings on the fireplace is a classic tradition for most people only for stocking stuffers, but originally they were everyday socks that when hung out to dry after being washed from the days use.
In the modern age (and according to the song) Santa has a list and checks it twice to see who been “naughty or nice” and gives stocking stuffers accordingly.
Coal wasm at first, good because you could burn it to stay warm during the winter.
Later, is was “changed” to make coal a punishment for being “naughty’ in favor of toys and sweets for being “nice”.
Green and red are the traditional Christmas colors. the meaning of these colors have multiple origin tales, but the most common one is the Christianized one that states that the red symbolizes the blood of Christ and the green symbolizes all living things.
There are also the pre-Christian origin story; stating the green and red colors signify plants that survive the winter (which stay alive and green and produce fruit and flower), such as mistletoe, evergreens and firs.
This was a symbolic “promise” that although winter was here, things will survive and live through the cold season.
1. Jack Frost (also known as Old Man Winter) is based off of the Anglo-Saxon / Viking / Norse figure, “Jokul Frosti”, which translates as “Icicle Frost”.
Like much of ancient, pre-Christian, Europe, the religious beliefs of culture depended heavy on the forces of nature.
Nature and the seasons were control and, thus personified, by the gods.
Or at the very least, the seasons were “ushered in” by the god-like deities.
Frosty The Snowman
Frosty the Snowman is actually just a modern children song, turned into a 1950’s film.
It comes from a song recorded by Gene Autry. It was written in hopes of finding a follow up hit to Autry’s recording of, “Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer” (the 9th reindeer introduced in the 1930’s).
The Candy Cane
The Candy Cane was said to be created / invented in 1670 by the choirmaster of Germany's Cologne Cathedral, to help quite the children during Christmas Eve services.
He asked the local candy maker to make “sweet sticks” and add a crook on the end to remind the children of the shepherds who saw the star of David and went to pay homage to the Christ Child in the nativity story.