Today, many across the world celebrate Christmas day by gathering with family and friends. In the United States, Christmas became a federal holiday in 1870 and has evolved overtime. It is both a christian religious holiday and a worldwide cultural tradition. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. The days leading up to Christmas are typically marked by holiday parties, gift shopping, decorating Christmas trees, preparing meals, drinking egg nog, and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to bring gifts and enjoy a glass of milk and cookies. Ever wonder where some of these traditions came from?
The Christmas tree tradition is believed to have originated in Germany in the 16th century. It is also believed that the widely known 16th-century Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, first introduced adding lighted candles to the trees. Now, approximately 30-35 million real Christmas trees are bought in the United States. Around 21,000 individuals grow Christmas trees for up to 15 years before they are sold. In New York City the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in 1931 and is now annually covered with over 25,000 Christmas lights.
The beloved history of Santa Claus dates back hundreds of years and was inspired by the monk St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born around 280 A.D. in modern-day Turkey. St. Nicholas is known for being generous and giving away his inherited wealth to help others. A famous St. Nicholas story is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery by giving them a dowry so that they could be married. Rudolph, Santa’s most famous red-nosed reindeer became popular due to Robert L. May’s poem in 1939. Many children today wait for Santa to arrive through the chimney with presents they’ve asked for on their Christmas wish-list.
In addition to gift exchanges, many enjoy a Christmas feast. Egg nog has become a Christmas holiday tradition for many. In the United States, the first eggnog made was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.
We hope that you and your family have a great holiday season!