History of the 12 Days of Christmas: They’re after Christmas?

Partridge

THE HISTORY OF THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: THEY’RE AFTER CHRISTMAS? The 12 Days of Christmas are the dozen days in the liturgical or ecclesiastical calendar of the Western Church between the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child (Christmas Day, December 25) and the coming of the Wise Men, or Magi, to visit at his…

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History of Santa Claus: Saint or Elf?

Santa Claus

HISTORY OF SANTA CLAUS December 6 is “Saint Nicholas Day.” The name Santa Claus is a kind of a contraction for Saint Nicholas. The German name Sankt Nikolaus can be pronounced San’t(a) ni-KLOuse (sounding like house.)   Origin of St. Nicholas He was born in the late 3rd century, perhaps in A.D. 270. Nicholas became a bishop…

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History of Mistletoe: Why is it the Kissing plant?

Mistletoe

HISTORY OF MISTLETOE We’ve mentioned previously that mistletoe was prominent in the traditions of the Druids and the lore of northern Europe. The Druids used the mistletoe of their sacred oak as part of their ritual five days after the new moon following the Winter Solstice. In the Middle Ages, it was hung from ceilings…

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History of the Christmas Creche: Origin of the Manger scene

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CRECHE: ORIGIN OF THE MANGER SCENE One of the most enduring Christmas traditions is setting up a creche during the Advent season. A creche is a model of the scene of the Manger on the first Christmas at Bethlehem. A creche can be a small model set up in the home…

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History of Christmas Music: More than just Carols?

Christmas Music

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS MUSIC Music early became a marked feature of the Christmas season. But the first chants, litanies, and hymns were in Latin and deemed too theological for popular use. Under Francis of Assisi‘s influence in the 13th century, we began to see the rise of the carol written in the vernacular. The word carol comes…

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History of Christmas Traditions: Some pre-Christian?

Traditions

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS Many of the customs that we commonly associate with Christmas come from previous pagan or pre-Christian European backgrounds. Let’s look at some of these familiar traditions and some connections to other folklore elements with which we may be unfamiliar.   Christmas Traditions The word Yule comes from the Germanic jōl or the…

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History of Christmas: Nativity Season — Snow in Bethlehem?

Nativity

HISTORY OF THE NATIVITY SEASON You’ve seen those greeting cards that show Joseph along with Mary on the back of a donkey making their way to Bethlehem in the wintry snow. Have you ever wondered: could Jesus have been born during the close of the year, perhaps even with snow on the ground?   Nativity…

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History of Advent: Why We Celebrate Christmas on December 25

Advent

THE HISTORY OF ADVENT: WHY WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS ON DECEMBER 25 Here begins our series of articles on the History of Christmas. The traditional season of Advent, leading up to Christmas, begins today. It is celebrated in the church calendar as one of the most festive seasons of the year.   Meaning of Advent “Advent”…

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