Christmas: what is it?
The Christmas holidays already existed well before the birth of Jesus and since antiquity. The peoples of the earth celebrated in various ways the passage of winter. Formerly, ST Nicolas is celebrated by a large number of European countries: in France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Russia, Poland, Austria and others. On the night of December 5 to 6, he goes into the houses to bring to the wise children various treats. Today, Saint Nicholas has become Christmas and usually celebrates December 25th.
It is said to have for origin Saint Nicholas. We find in its representation all the symbolism of Saint Nicolas (white beard, red coat,). During his lifetime, Nicholas was the protector of children, widows and weak people. He was kind and generous.
When the Dutch and Germans immigrated to the United States in the 17th century, they spread their customs and ST Nicholas quickly became « Santa Claus ». Since the arrival of the legend of St. Nicholas in the United States, the idea of Christmas is developing in the minds of writers and cartoonists.
Christmas tree and decorations.
We find the tradition of Christmas tree decoration since the 15th century. The first ornaments are edible such as apples, nuts, candies or cupcakes but often also small characters: there were also colored papers, ribbons and even small dolls of rags.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, people lit their fir candles, often numbering 12, one for each month of the year. Fixed by means of wax or pins. Sometimes the expensive candles at that time were replaced by soft candles tied around the branches. Today the fastening systems have evolved and the Christmas decorations are fixed with pliers and decorative threads.
With the onset of electricity and to prevent fires on December 4, the tradition of adorning the fir candle has experienced innovations. As a result, it was possible to install the decorations of the Christmas tree earlier.
The candle holders first appeared around 1890 and the glass balls and lanterns were created between 1902 and 1914.
Electric garlands, although extremely expensive, began to appear in the late nineteenth century.
Christmas decorations have always used various materials such as glass, wood, metal, wax or paper,…
Among the many Christmas decorations that embellish our homes, some find their origins in early Christianity: like candles. Since the beginning of Christianity, Christmas Eve has been lit with a large candle symbolizing Christ, light of the world; this candle burns all night of the night of the Nativity. This tradition continues in several European countries such as France, England, Ireland or Denmark.
This habit of decorating our houses dates back to the second half of the 19th century. In 1860 the Montreal merchants offered holly leaves.
Here is the most striking difference between France and England: there, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas day and thus 25. There is no special dinner from 24 to the evening. Generally, the English go to the pub. Similarly, we do not open the gifts at midnight but on the morning of the 25th. Generally, a king’s breakfast is served for the occasion.
The Christmas gift is traditionally offered to children but also to adults! at Christmas. Packed in a shiny gift-paper wrapped in a beautiful ribbon, it is distributed by Santa Claus. However, the tradition of the Christmas gift hides a story…
On Christmas Eve, which is a public holiday in England, children go out on the streets singing carols. In exchange they receive small gifts or sweets. On Christmas Eve, they also make thin magpies. They will leave them near the fireplace with a word of thanks and a glass of milk as a snack.
Before going to sleep, children hang large socks at the foot of their bed and place cakes and a glass of port at the foot of the tree, for Santa Claus. Then they fall asleep thinking about Santa who will arrive on his big sled and put in the fireplace all the toys ordered.
The different ways to celebrate Christmas in English-speaking countries.
Christmas in the United States
Given the multi-cultural nature of the American continent, Christmas traditions vary from place to place, depending on the origin and cultural heritage of each family. That being said, some traditions are widespread throughout the continent. For example, almost all cities install a giant Christmas tree at these festivals, decorate the city with Christmas decorations, and most Americans like to decorate the front of their house with light garlands and even statues.
Christmas in the UK
In the United Kingdom, Christmas traditions are more or less similar to those of the United States. This is a time that we want to spend with family, and the tradition also wants to exchange gifts on Christmas morning. We also believe in the legend of Santa Claus who presents gifts for children under their Christmas tree or sock. As Christmas approaches, it is customary to attend plays representing the scene of the Nativity (the birth of Jesus).
Christmas in Ireland
In Ireland, Christmas celebrations are similar to Great Britain, except that the Christmas period for Catholic families lasts from December 8th to January 6th, Epiphany Day. Also called « Little Christmas ». Santa Claus here is Saint Nicholas, and traditional meals are similar to those of other countries, though some will serve spicy beef instead of traditional turkey main courses.
Christmas in Canada
Although Canada shares many Christmas traditions with the United States, this country is full of unique traditions. There are so many differences in how to celebrate Christmas. The most common tradition in the English-speaking parts of the country is to have a real Christmas tree, particularly in the province of Nova Scotia, in the east of the country, where fir trees of considerable size are installed in most cities.
Christmas in South Africa
South Africa has a very distinct way of celebrating Christmas, especially as the Christmas holidays take place during the summer, making the sun and the weather the norm. As a result, most South Africans eat their Christmas meal outdoors, while some decide to go camping during the Christmas holidays.
Christmas in Australia and New Zealand
As in South Africa, Christmas falls in the middle of summer in Australia as well as in New Zealand. In spite of this, the Christmas imagery is inspired by that popular in the United States and Great Britain. So we decorate cities and fake snow houses and we talk about Santa Claus on his sleigh, figures that are commonly found on greeting cards.