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Nov 27 2013 1:30AM

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Celebrate a Traditional Christmas
Nov 27 2013 1:28AM

As it is known to all that Christmas has its roots in Christian beliefs, but like many Christian holidays, traditional Christmas celebrations often have an intertwined history that precedes Christ. Much of what we know about Christmas is based on legend and vague history, and so many traditions have more than one origin.

1. The Birth of Christ

The whole foundation of the Christmas celebration rests on the birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible, in Luke, tells the story, from His birth in a stable to the visiting Wise Men led by a star. Was Christ really born on December 25th? No. It is more likely he was born in the spring, but the Catholic Church chose this date, as it did many others, to coincide with pagan celebrations. Their hope was that, by blending the pagan celebrations with Christian ones, pagans would be more willing to convert.

2. Santa Claus

As a very real man who lived long ago in Turkey. Santa Claus developed as we know him much from the description given in the story, " A Visit From Saint Nick," also known as "T'was the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822. This was further reinforced by Thomas Nast, who drew Christmas scenes every Christmas for several years for Harper's magazine.

3. The Christmas Tree

There are many stories and legends surrounding the Christmas tree. An oak tree featured prominently in pagan celebrations and is the origin of the Yule log. During the Middle Ages, Germans decorated trees with apples, colored paper and other trinkets as a representation of the Garden of Eden. According to legend, Martin Luther saw the stars shining through an evergreen tree while walking home one night and was inspired to light candles on the fir tree.

4. Christmas Cards

This common Christmas tradition has its roots in Victorian England. Supposedly, students had to write their parents notes at Christmas time to practice their writing skills. Sending personalized Christmas greetings must have been in vogue because Sir Henry Cole, an employee of the British Postal System, decided he didn't have time to write them. He hired an artist to make him identical greetings he could mail off, and the Christmas card was born.

5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is perhaps one of the most loved Christmas traditions of all. The half-hour show featuring the voice of Burl Ives is watched by millions of children every Christmas, and it all began as an advertising gimmick. Montgomery Ward had one of their employees come up with Rudolph in 1939 as a means to draw customers. And Rudolph may have stayed simply as a representation of Montgomery Ward if it weren't for the story being turned into a song. This song, which was turned down by many famous singers of the day, became an instant success once Gene Autry took it on.

Candy CanesYou may come across stories that tell you the candy cane was invented as a way to spread the gospel, but that is something new in the past several years. The real story seems to be that a choirmaster in Cologne Cathedral handed out white sticks of candy to children to keep them quiet during the Christmas church service. He had the candy bent into hook shapes simply as a way of celebrating the season.

Many years later, in 1920, a man named Bob McCormack would make and give homemade candy canes to his friends and family at Christmas time. They were difficult to make, so only a select few got these delicious treats. That is, until his brother invented the machine to mass-produce them. The red stripe was introduced in the early 1900s.

6. Hanging Your Christmas Stocking

This holiday tradition came about because of St. Nicholas. Legend says he greatly blessed a poor man's family by providing the man's daughters with dowry money so they could marry. The story says that St. Nicholas tossed the coins down the chimney, and they landed in the stockings the girls had washed and hung up to dry. Thus stockings became a traditional prop for Christmas. And most people prepare with Christmas decorations socks, as well as for containing gifts. christmas decorations socks

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