St Aiden's Homeschool – Our Other Blog

December 24, 2009

The Magical Anticipation of Christmas

Filed under: Christmas — Tags: — Donnette E Davis @ 10:56 pm

Along with the wide variety of decorations in shops and malls, not to mention our own family homes, there also is the sound of music playing, bells ringing, the laughter and wishes of Merry Christmas from shoppers, friends old and new, family members, old acquaintances,  that also create a special atmosphere and add to the magic of Christmas.

And of course there’s always a Santa Claus that children can meet and tell what they want for Christmas, and also have their picture taken. Sometimes Santa Claus may distribute Christmas gifts to children, telling them that because they have been very, very good they are getting an extra special early Christmas present.  The ability to delight children by telling them stories about Santa Claus, as well as making them see and talk to the jolly old fellow, puts a lot of magic and excitement into Christmas. Once the tradition is started, or from the first time that children have been told the story, it becomes something that they look forward to every year during the Christmas season. More About Santa Claus in a bit 🙂

There’s also the sound of music from choirs or school groups who often give open performances singing Christmas carols and songs in malls and downtown areas of towns. Families and others who are out and about will pause to listen or to sing along with these groups. Merrier and more memorable times are enjoyed when time is spent with family, friends and colleagues during the season. Before Christmas Day arrives, there usually are gatherings at home and at work, an evening out with friends and other occasions to get together and share the spirit of Christmas. The presence of special Christmas music and people dressed in holiday clothing and outfits provide a different atmosphere and contribute to the magical feeling of the season.

Another thing that is different at Christmas is the scent from a fresh Christmas tree, of gingerbread and other cookies baking and other food preparations that are specially done at Christmas time. Most people who select a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial one for their homes do so because of the wonderful scent it provides. For many people, that scent from a Christmas tree is what puts Christmas into everything else.

Another popular scent at Christmas comes from the popular Christmas song ‘Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire.’ The actual roasting of chestnuts by families during the Christmas season may be a rare occurrence these days but it is occasionally done in some downtown areas and in bakeries and confectioneries that make fresh products everyday.

All these events, activities, happenings, sights, sounds and scents of Christmas and the holidays create special and unforgettable memories. And who can deny that a pleasant memory is always something that is truly magical.

Some other Favourite Traditions

The Yule Log

The Yule Log, as we have come to know it, is a rather large piece of wood, cylindrical in shape, which is placed inside the fireplace and burned on Christmas Eve.Or, you may know it simply as a little cake that resembles a wooden log!  Either way, they both originated from the same place. Northern Europe. While different regions would make use of the Yule Log in various ways, it was always used as part of Christmas Eve festivities.  More often than not, the Yule Log was bought inside, lit in the hearth, and kept burning from 12 hours to 12 days. Which could be where the 12 days of Christmas idea came from.

During the Yule burning ritual, it was believed that a household would enjoy good luck in one form or another to every member of the home that the warmth of the fire from the Yule Log touched. Normally this mean a life full of health, wealth, and happiness. It was also considered a tribute to Odin, the Norse god of war, wisdom, and death. And, in Scandinavian culture, the name of Odin was actually Jolnir. It is interesting to note that the first three letters in the aforementioned name was also the name of a popular Solstice festival and when pronounced it sounds like “Yule”.

This tradition finally made its way to England, where the gathering of the Yule Log was an entire family involved event. Family members would venture out into the forest, select a huge tree, chop it down, make one great log from a portion of it, and drag it with ropes back to their home. The log had to be big enough to keep ablaze for 12 days.  It was widely believed that if you participated in the dragging, you would have good luck throughout the following year.

After the log had finished it’s burning cycle, a small bit of it was saved back for lighting next year’s Yule Log. Indeed, some of the ashes from the Yule Log were scattered throughout home owner’s fields to ensure a healthy crop the following year.  This tradition made its way over to America from our English forefathers when arriving to our country and has been part of our Christmas traditions ever since.

Christmas Caroling

The actual invention of  Christmas caroling is not clear. Some claim that carols, derived from the French word Carole, meaning “kind of dance”, began as far back as the 4th or 5th century A.D. Others report that carols, as we know them today, originated between the 12th and 13th centuries with St. Francis of Assisi, a Roman Catholic saint leading the way.

Because the act of caroling is an unwritten tradition, it makes the task of origination all the more difficult.

As the term “Carole” or “carol” implies, in the beginning, there were no Christian ties involved whatsoever. When one would “carol” in early times, they would be performing a traditional cultural dance often times accompanied by some sort of music. In the French translation of the word, it is accompanied with song. In the early stages, there was no singing associated.

What is known is that St Francis of Assisi ushered in a more well known form of caroling by combining singing Christian songs, or hymns, with Christmas church services. But where did these hymns come from? It is believed that they were written around the 4th or 5th century A.D. praising the birth of Jesus Christ.

But why do Christmas carolers travel in groups going from house to house singing and celebrating the season today?

It is believed that this portion of Christmas caroling developed in or around the 16th century with those too poor “singing for their supper”, going from door-to-door until they received enough food and drink to sustain them for the night.

The Christmas carol as we know it today wasn’t widely accepted in America until the late 19th century, when it was concurrently made popular in England during the Victorian era.

Gift Giving

Logically, for most Christians, the act of gift giving would be symbolic of the first Christmas Eve and the Three Wise Men bestowing gifts upon the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus to celebrate his birth.

And indeed, this is where the tradition of gift-giving began. Of course, throughout the ages,  and throughout countless civilizations such as the Romans and Egyptians, subjects would offer up gifts during ancient celebrations or festivals. Unless you are a historian, or scholar, you would not be aware of them.

While the concept of gift-giving remains the same, the methods have changed quite a bit over the centuries. From the Victorian era on, gifts, or presents, have been wrapped with elaborate papers, ribbons, and bows. And instead of placing the gifts at the foot of a King, they are now scattered underneath a Christmas Tree, or found snuggled within our Christmas Stockings.

Even though some might lose sight of where the tradition of gift giving began, the message these gifts bring forth are that of wonder, happiness, and surprise.

The Candy Cane

Would you believe that the Candy Cane as we are familiar with it today, was actually invented as a tool to keep children quiet?!    It’s true.

Back in the 1670’s, a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, took a well known candy, a “sugar stick” and bent one end to resemble that of a Shepherd’s staff during the long church Christmas ceremonies. This new idea quickly spread over to America and churches then began performing the same tradition within their midst.

Candy Canes, in their infancy, were mostly reserved for Christmas themed religious ceremonies. But, there was one documented case of someone decorating their own Christmas Tree with the traditional “white” candies.

A man by the name of August Imgard, a German immigrant, displayed candy canes on his family Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio, in the year 1847.

At first, the Candy Canes were all white, void of any other colour. Until in the 1920’s, a man by the name of Bob McCormack began making the Candy Cane as we know it today, with the red stripes included, for his family, neighbours, and friends. Bob did this process, every year all by hand.

That all changed when his brother in law, a Catholic priest by the name of Gregory Keller, invented a machine that automated the Candy Cane creation process in about 1950.

Now, we all enjoy Candy Canes, from the traditional red and white striped peppermint candies, down to the multi coloured fruity flavoured ones.

The Poinsettia

You would think, after reading that most of our American holiday traditions stemmed from Europe, that it would only stand to reason that the tradition of placing Poinsettia flowers around our homes would also come from that region.

Well, if you thought that, you would be 100%. . . . .Wrong!

Actually, this tradition came all the way from. . . .Mexico!

That’s right. Mexico is the correct answer.

Our American tradition of displaying Poinsettias around our homes was the brain child of none other than Joel Roberts Poinsett. I mean, check out the name! You knew it was coming :-).

If it were not for Joel R. Poinsett’s love of botany, we may have never even known about this beautiful and festive flower at all. In 1825, Joel Roberts Poinsett was appointed to the prestigious title of the United States Ambassador  to Mexico.

On one of his journeys to Mexico, he discovered the vibrantly red flower. He immediately fell in love with it as a practicing botanist, and shipped some of them back to his home in Greenville, South Carolina.  After a short time of cultivating the flowers inside his hothouses, he began sending them to his friends and family as a Christmas gift.  Now, we display them within our own homes. And can purchase them from any greenhouse or corner shop.

The Christmas Card

No, Hallmark didn’t start this. It was an English man by the name of Sir Henry Cole in 1843. You see, Sir Henry needed a way to send out Christmas cards to family and friends to help the not so fortunate souls. And writing each one out by hand would be a tedious and timely task. Try saying that 3 times fast!

So, he hired a guy by the name of  John Calcott Horsley to pick up the process. John set off to work and began hand painting an image onto a card that depicted the act of celebrating a joyous Christmas with family.

Under the picture read a caption that said, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You”. While the idea wasn’t one that inspired Sir Henry’s friends and family to join in on his crusade, and he didn’t send any more cards out the following year, the idea of sending holiday wishes and greetings did.

Kate Greenaway, a prominent Victorian children’s book writer and illustrator, assisted with the help of Frances Brundage and Ellen Clapsaddle, designed the first popular Christmas cards during the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s.

Still, 30 years or so after this, Americans that wanted Christmas cards to send off, had to import them directly from England. So England is responsible for the creation and tradition of the Christmas card.

Until in 1875, a German immigrant by the name of Louis Prang, started his very own lithography shop within the United States. At first, Louis didn’t create traditional looking Christmas cards that we’re familiar with today. As more people requested wintery scenes and Christmas tidings, Louis came up with some of the most beautiful designs ever spied with the human eye. By the time it was 1881, Louis was creating better than 5 million Christmas cards every year!



  1. Updated lyrics to Christmas carol: O little town of Bethlehem
    O little town of Bethlehem
    How still we see thee lie
    Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
    The silent stars go by
    Yet in thy dark streets shineth
    The everlasting Light
    The hopes and fears of all the years
    Are met in thee tonight.

    For Christ is born of Mary
    And gathered all above
    While mortals sleep, the angels keep
    Their watch of wondering love
    O morning stars together
    Proclaim the holy birth
    And praises sing to God the King
    And Peace to all on earth!

    How silently, how silently
    The wondrous gift is given!
    So God imparts to human hearts
    The blessings of His heaven.
    No ear may hear his His coming,
    But in this world of sin,
    Where meek souls will receive him still,
    The dear Christ enters in.

    O holy Child of Bethlehem
    Descend to us, we pray
    Cast out our sin and enter in
    Be born to us today
    We hear the Christmas angels
    The great glad tidings tell
    O come to us, abide with us
    Our Lord Emmanuel!

    They’ve cancelled Christmas in Bethlehem
    They’ve cancelled peace in Bethlehem
    In a land once known as holy the gun is in control
    They’ve cancelled Christmas in Bethlehem
    They’ve cancelled freedom in Bethlehem
    They’ve cancelled hope in Bethlehem
    They’ve locked the little town behind a ghetto wall
    They’ve cancelled Christmas in Bethlehem

    Though angels are singing – they’re trapped behind the wall
    Yet angels keep singing down in Beit Sahour
    And if our Christmas songs and prayers are not to be in vain
    We must pull down that prison wall that’s strangling Bethlehem
    The wall must fall – the wall must fall
    If peace on earth is to come
    The wall must fall.

    They’ve cancelled wise men in Bethlehem
    They’ve cancelled shepherds in Bethlehem
    They’ve stopped the wise men at the checkpoint
    and the shepherds can’t leave home
    They’re under curfew in Bethlehem.

    Though angels are singing – they’re trapped behind the wall
    Yet angels keep singing down in Beit Sahour
    And if our Christmas songs and prayers are not to be in vain
    We must pull down that prison wall that’s strangling Bethlehem
    The wall must fall – the wall must fall
    If peace on earth is to come
    The wall must fall.

    The wall must fall – the wall must fall
    If peace on earth is to come
    The wall must fall.

    Words & Music by Garth Hewitt

    [audio src="’ve_cancelled_Christmas_(the_wall_must_fall).mp3" /]

    Comment by fourthreichisrael — December 24, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

  2. Christian Music is just very soothing to the ear and i feel uplifted when i hear about it .

    Comment by Skin Moisturizers : — October 31, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  3. i would have to make more christmas cards becuase next month is december already `’:

    Comment by False Nails · — November 14, 2010 @ 12:55 am

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