Many people know that paganism had a strong influence on modern day Christmas celebrations, but did you know they are not the only ones to influence this holiday? Or even what they have influenced? The answers to some of the origins of Christmas traditions may surprise you!
The Christmas Tree
Many people will tell you the Christmas tree is Pagan in nature, but did you know that it isn’t just Pagan? While it is true that Pagans did (and do) like to use greenery inside to decorate, especially this time of the year, the modern-day Christmas tree as we know it was actually brought about by 17th-Century German natives who began hanging the trees from the ceiling, top down, and decorating them with apples to promote good luck and bountiful crops. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that these settlers brought the tradition to the United States, where it quickly caught on and was turned upright.
Christmas lights are a great way to add warmth to just about any situation, but this time of year they are particularly pretty on just about everything. While it could be said that Pagans once again brought about this tradition with their winter solstice bonfires, the tradition of using light to brighten winter nights goes back to cavemen, who used fire in caves to ward off the long winter nights, bring warmth to their homes, and to even help with seasonal depression that happens to many this time of year.
This is one of the best parts about Christmas, right? Well, the tradition is actually fairly new! Many people associate gift-giving at Christmastime to Pagans and their love of drink and food during winter feasts, and giving to their neighbors. Even Christianity didn’t give gifts on Christmas, but rather on New Year’s Day to celebrate the coming of the new year. The modern day tradition dates back to the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria’s children got Christmas Eve gifts in 1850. Those gifts included a sword and armor. In 1859 she gave her husband, Prince Albert, a book of poetry by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.