History of the Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE December 8 is National Christmas Tree Day. It is generally believed that the first Christmas tree was of German origin, dating from the time of St. Boniface, an English missionary to Germany in the 8th century. He replaced the sacrifices to the Norse god Odin’s sacred oak — some say…

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History of Santa Claus: Saint or Elf?

St. Nicholas

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 Christmas: Nativity Season — Snow in Bethlehem?


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

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History of Advent: Why We Celebrate Christmas on December 25


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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5 Christmas Myths, Not Found in the Nativity Story

5 Christmas Myths

5 CHRISTMAS MYTHS: NOT FOUND IN THE NATIVITY STORY I’m often asked to explain the history behind a holiday: is it based on history, tradition, or legend? The best historical sources on the birth of Jesus are found in two Gospel accounts in the New Testament: St. Matthew and St. Luke. St. Matthew was a…

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History of a Sacred Oratorio: Considered Scandalous?

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HISTORY OF A SACRED ORATORIO The genteel reception accorded the original debut performance stood in marked contrast to the savage hostility that greeted the work less than a year later in the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, London. The English aristocracy and churchmen began an unrelenting campaign against the work and its creator. They…

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History of Thanksgiving Indian: Why Squanto already knew English

massasoit statue

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING: FRIENDLY INDIAN SQUANTO We’ve all heard how the Pilgrims, landing in Massachusetts four hundred years ago on the Mayflower in 1620, were ill-equipped to survive the harsh winters of the New World. We’ve also heard how they met a Native American Indian of the Patuxet tribe, Squanto, who befriended them. He taught them…

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History of St Martin’s Day: That Significant Saint

saint martin

HISTORY OF ST. MARTIN’S DAY While St. Martin’s Day is not widely celebrated in the U.S., except in the more liturgical churches, St. Martin is more famous and influential than you’d think.   What is St. Martin’s Day? November 11 celebrates Saint Martin’s Day, also known as Martinmas. Irish tradition tells us it was called…

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History of All Souls Day: Day of the Dead

All Souls Day

HISTORY OF ALL SOUL’S DAY: DAY OF THE DEAD November 2  is All Soul’s Day or Day of the Dead. As I mentioned previously in my article on the History of Halloween, Allhallowstide includes these three holidays: October 31: All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) November 1: All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day, Feast of All Hallows, Hallowmas) November…

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History of All Saints Day

450px all saints

HISTORY OF ALL SAINTS DAY November 1 is All Saints’ Day, more commonly known as All Hallows’ Day. The night before is known as “All Hallows’ Eve,” or Halloween. This day is also known as the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of all Saints, and in the strictly religious…

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