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The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Christmas traditions from past to present still play a huge part during everyone's favorite time of the year.

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The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

The beautiful Christmas Tree sparkles with Christmas lights before being decorated.

The beautiful Christmas Tree sparkles with Christmas lights before being decorated.

Colby Hurt

The beautiful Christmas Tree sparkles with Christmas lights before being decorated.

Colby Hurt

Colby Hurt

The beautiful Christmas Tree sparkles with Christmas lights before being decorated.

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Thanksgiving is over, and as the days start to get colder, the countdown begins until your next break. You know what this means! It’s almost Christmas time! For most families this means decorating Christmas trees, eating Christmas cookies, and giving gifts too your loved ones. However, these popular traditions trace much farther back than you may realize.

The first thing you might wonder is how did this wonderful Holiday even start? While Christians today use the holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, others still choose to celebrate it simply for the fun and festivities, which is how it began. Originally, Christmas evolved from the Roman tradition of Saturnalia. It was a festival to honor Saturn, their god of harvest and agriculture. It was held on the winter solstice, when people all over would come together for a festival and celebrate for days. Later, Roman writers dated the celebration of Christmas on December 25th between the second and third centuries, but it began to be widely celebrated starting in the fourth century.

The nativity scene represents the famous reason for Christmas.

The first tradition you probably associate with Christmas it gift giving. Buying the perfect gift for every family member, friend and loved one. This popular tradition of generosity also originated with the Roman Saturnalia festival. The Roman children were given wax dolls, which represented the human sacrifices given to Saturn in hopes of good harvest to come. Other common gifts were boughs of trees, or other plants, which also represented harvest and agriculture. Not many people know about these traditions however. Christians today give gifts because of the three wise men. In the well-known first Christmas story, when Jesus was born in a stable, a huge star hung in the sky above it, showing the three wise men where He was. They traveled all the way to Bethlehem, bringing with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to give to baby Jesus.

An equally popular tradition during Christmas time, the tree, also had early roots. For thousands of years, the evergreen was known to represent immortality and fortitude to many ancient cultures, including Egyptians, Hebrews, and Chinese. The worship of trees was also very common in European Druidism and Paganism cultures. The Christmas tradition began when people put up evergreens decorated with apples and nuts to ward off evil spirits and provide a place to live for birds. During the Middle Ages, the Christmas tree, decorated with fruit and nuts, was used on Christmas Eve to represent the tree which Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from. Decorated Christmas trees as we know them started in Germany during the Renaissance, and surged to popularity during the Protestant Reformation. The Christmas tree is an important and central tradition for many families. “I always go and pick out a tree with my family,” says Kylie Johnson, Junior at Jamestown High school. ” It’s a fun tradition we always do together.”

Stockings hang by the fire before Christmas, ready to be filled with gifts.

Another popular tradition in many cultures is to hang stockings by the fireplace for gifts. It was said that St. Nicholas, who is now known as Santa Clause would come to children’s houses on Christmas Eve to bring gifts to those in need. Looking for a place to put the presents where the children would see them, he saw the stockings hanging by the fireplace to dry and decided to put them there. This tradition has been continued throughout the centuries, and nowadays, we still put up stockings by the fireplace in hopes that we will receive something special. “Stockings are my favorite part about presents,” says Sam Long, Junior at Lafayette High School. “It’s fun to get a lot of little gifts.”

A Santa Claus figure that only comes out during Christmastime represents the Christmas icon.

Mistletoe is another tradition associated with Christmas that may not mean what you think it does. Today, it is just an excuse to kiss someone, but many years ago, a Celtic legend said that the mistletoe would bring good luck, heal wounds, increase fertility, and ward off evil spirits. Later, in the Victorian Era, it was believed that if two people kissed under the mistletoe, they were guaranteed to get married.

Freshly baked cookies are beautifully decorated and ready to be eaten.

Finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas Time without some fresh baked Christmas cookies. This tradition started during the Crusades where only bakers permitted by the law were allowed to bake gingerbread. During his time, new spices like cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, almonds, dried fruit and other luxuries were being introduced to the west, so baked goods were becoming more popular and extravagant. Gingerbread quickly became associated with Christmas because it was the only time which it was eaten. These were later cut out into different designs and people, which led to our current Christmas Cookie. People like Jenna Thompson, Senior at Menchville High School take their Christmas baking very seriously. “I always spend a whole day baking cookies with my mom. We love cutting them out and decorating them.”

 

What would Christmas time be without all our wonderful traditions?

1 Comment

One Response to “The Most Wonderful Time of The Year”

  1. Matt Zayas on December 19th, 2018 10:03 AM

    These pictures were awesome! They aren’t low quality and enhance the article.

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The Most Wonderful Time of The Year