12 Christmas Myths: Fact or Fiction?
Do You Know These 12 Christmas Myths?
Every holiday has its myths, but Christmas seems to have more than its fair share. Urban legends and old wives tales abound during this holiday season. Think you know fact from fiction? Here's the scoop on some of the most popular Christmas myths.
Are poinsettia plants really dangerous for homes with children and pets? Nope. The rumor has been a conspiracy started by someone who didn't want to spend money on the school's poinsettia fund raiser.
As proven by recent studies, poinsettia plants are non-toxic. If you have pets, go ahead and put those poinsettias out. You've been sacrificing the beauty of these plants in vain.
For those who are still 7-years-old at heart, go ahead and laugh it up. Every time someone says "mistletoe" they are indeed saying "dung on a stick". The word is derived from an Anglo-Saxon phrase and that is indeed the meaning.
3. Do Candy Canes
Really Represent The Blood and Purity of Christ?
Nope. This is another of those "wish they were true" Christmas myths, but it's not a fact. The reality is that candy canes were just a mindless sugary treat. They weren't even red and white initially. If you like candy canes go ahead and indulge but if you've been decorating with them because you thought they had a deeper religious meaning, you've been misled.
4. Is the "X" in X-mas an atheist attempt to take Christ out of the holiday?
Nope. No conspiracy here. The "X" in X-mas actually stands for Christ. In Greek, the word Christ begins with the Greek letter Chi (or "X"). For centuries the letter X has been an abbreviation for Jesus Christ.
5. Is Rudolph a Montgomery Ward Creation?
Say it ain't so! Is our beloved childhood friend nothing more than a commercial creation? Unfortunately the answer is yes. Rudolph was indeed created for Montgomery Ward department stores in 1939. However, the lovable reindeer took on a life of its own and now the story is a wholehearted Christmas tradition.
So there you have it -- the facts on five of the most common Christmas myths. How many did you have right? If you're wondering about the fact or fiction of any other Christmas myths you've heard, drop me a line. I love to dig into them.
6. The Tradition of the Christmas Nativity
Who Put Up The First Christmas Nativity?
It just doesn't feel like Christmas until you see the Christmas nativity displays lighting up front yards, churches and businesses. But when was the first Christmas nativity scene set up? Whose idea was it? When did it become a Christmas tradition? The answers may surprise you.
The First Christmas Nativity
The Christmas nativity wasn't always a Christian tradition. It's not like people were pantomiming Christ's birth immediately following the resurrection. So when did it really begin?
The first Christmas nativity was actually arranged by Saint Francis of Assisi. Of course Saint Francis used real people to depict the famous scene, not lighted plastic figures. But why exactly did Saint Francis begin this holiday tradition?
Spreading the Word
While many of us take for granted the fact that we can pick up the Bible and read about the birth of Christ, back in the day of Saint Francis not everyone could read and not everyone had access to a Bible.
What better way to spread the joy of Christ's birth than by "showing" the story to those who couldn't read about it. And so the first Christmas nativity was born.
What Did the First Christmas Nativity Look Like?
The Christmas nativity set up by Saint Francis looked much different than the nativities we see today. First and foremost, real people were used -- not statues. There were real animals too and a life-sized wax figure of the Christ child.
The popularity of the Christmas nativity grew and people starting displaying them at home. Wealthy families would even commission sculptors to create their very own nativity scenes.
In today's day and age, you don't have to be wealthy to have your own Christmas nativity. Even the local Wal-Mart sells nativity decorations. What has changed, however, is the way Christmas nativities are viewed.
In America, where freedom of religion is supposed to ring true, it appears that the rule only applies to those who are not Christian. The Christmas nativity is under attack and there are those who don't want them displayed in public places.
My opinion? This is the Christmas season. Let's remember what the holiday is truly about and let the Christmas nativity scenes continue to be a wonderful Christmas tradition.
7. Who Started The Christmas Cards Tradition?
Why We Send Christmas Cards During the Holiday Season
This year while you're preparing all of the Christmas cards that will be going out to friends and family you may take a moment to wonder why you do it and who started it all. After all, it's not like the apostles took it upon themselves to send each other greeting cards to remember the birthday of Jesus. Hey, Hallmark didn't even exist back then! So how did Christmas cards become a part of this Christian holiday? Here's where it all began...
Let's go back in time to 1840s Britain. The first postal deliveries were being sent thanks to the brand new “Penny Post” that had been set up.
Now that the Penny Post enabled people to send Christmas greetings to one another it became customary to do so. However, many people found it tedious and time consuming to hand write all of their Christmas letters. In 1843, the first Christmas card was commissioned.
Christmas Cards Come to America
For about 30 years, Americans had to import their Christmas cards from Britain. It wasn't until 1875 that the first Christmas cards would be printed in the United States.
And the Christmas cards sent back then really didn't mirror today's popular cards at all. The Christmas cards of yesteryear tended to depict flowers and faeries. It wasn't until later years that Christmas cards took on a “holiday theme”.
And the Evolution Continues...
What the Penny Post did for Christmas cards back in the mid 1800s, the Internet is doing today. The way we greet one another at Christmas is changing once again. Thanks to the wider acceptance of “e-cards” all it takes is the click of the mouse to send your friends and family Christmas greetings. Who knows what tomorrow brings...
How Did The Tradition of Christmas Stockings Begin?
The Story of The First Christmas Stockings
Each and every Christmas most of us hang stockings on the mantles of our fireplaces (or other places in the home if fireplace isn't present) and wait for the goodies to appear on Christmas morning. But when did this tradition begin? What do stockings and fireplaces have to do with the birth of Christ? Here's some insight into why we hang Christmas stockings during the holiday season.
It's harsh, but true. The tradition of our Christmas stockings actually started with a man who squandered his fortune away. Some say it was due to depression after his wife's death. Nevertheless, he left his three daughters penniless and without a dowry.
Because these three women had no dowry, they would be unable to marry. After all, in those days a man didn't usually marry a women without a dowry attached.
One night, as the sisters had left their socks by the fireplace to dry, St. Nicholas rode by the girls' home on his horse, saw the stockings hanging and flung gold coins down the chimney. The coins landed in the girls' stockings, becoming the very first stocking stuffers.
Today's Christmas Stockings
Today's Christmas stockings are still hung by a fireplace, but they're rarely filled with gold coins. Little trinkets and small gifts are placed into the stockings and children rush to see what's been left on Christmas morning.
And while the original Christmas stockings may indeed have been wet socks drying over a fire, the Christmas stockings of modern times are much more elaborate. There are stockings in all shapes, colors, sizes and materials.
There is one thing I wonder... What would those three daughters of yesteryear have thought of the Christmas stockings of today?
8. Christmas Tree Facts You Probably Didn't Know
A Few Christmas Tree Facts
Most of us put up the Christmas tree each and every holiday -- mostly for tradition's sake. After all, it doesn't feel like Christmas until the tree goes up. But do you know much about the history of Christmas trees? Here are some interesting facts...
Well, the actual origins of the first Christmas tree have always been the topic of hot debate. Some say they are pagan in origin, others insist they are not. However, the first decorated Christian Christmas tree dates back to 1510.
The first Christmas trees weren't decorated with lights and glass ornaments, as we decorate our trees today. These trees adorned simple decorations made of paper and fruits. So where did the lights come from? In the 18th century people began hanging candles on their trees. With the advent of electricity Christmas lights were introduced and because they were safer, they quickly replaced the candle tradition.
The First Christmas Tree Lots
Think the tradition of going to the Christmas tree lot to pick out a tree is a recent one? Guess again! Christmas tree lots have been around almost as long as Christmas trees have. The first Christmas tree lot dates back to 1531 in Germany.
The First White House Tree
Each year many of us ooh and ahh over the White House Christmas tree. When did the tradition start? Back in 1856 and the first lighting ceremony was introduced in 1923.
So there you have it, some Christmas tree facts to remind us that Christmas trees aren't just something to make the season brighter. They are a long-standing tradition that add culture to our Christmas experience. This year as you're shopping for Christmas trees at the Christmas tree lot remember just how long ago the tradition was started.
Just Who Is the “True Love” In the 12 Days of Christmas ?
We all know that The 12 Days of Christmas is a song we sing during the holiday season, but what in the world does it really have to do with the holiday? How can someone's “true love” and a partridge in a pear tree really have anything to do with the date of Christ's birth? Here's the scoop...
True love is never romantic love. True love is agape love and agape love is defined as an unconditional love for everything. Unconditional -- as in the person would die for you, regardless of what you did to that person. Getting to see the picture?
A Dangerous Time
The period of time when The 12 Days of Christmas was written was dangerous for believers. They were being persecuted and executed in many parts of the world. The 12 Days of Christmas is a way they could celebrate in code. After all, who would think twice about a children's song about love, birds, lords and maids?
So just what does the symbolism mean in The 12 Days of Christmas? First is the “true love”. We've already figured that one out. The true love is God. But what about the other symbols?
There is much debate about what the other symbols mean, but a few that many agree on are the partridge (which would represent Christ), the four calling birds (which represent the four gospels of the bible) and the seven swans are the Sacraments of the Holy Spirit.
Speaking of Debate
Speaking of debate, while some disagree on what the symbols mean, others disagree the song is a Christmas “code” at all. But isn't that the way it is with all religion? Some people having faith and others dismissing or trying to disprove it?
Is The 12 Days of Christmas really a code? I'd like to think so. Just as the fish in the sand. What do you think?
10. The History Behind The Dazzle of Christmas Lights
Why Do We Put Up Christmas Lights During the Holiday Season?
It's that time of year again and we figured what better way to kick off the 2007 season of Christmas Lore than with the history behind those Christmas lights we'll all be hanging up soon. After all, we enjoy the beauty of this time of year. Why not get t the bottom of why the houses in our neighborhoods sparkle? Here's the scoop...
It turns out that Christmas lights date back to the 17th century (and maybe even before that period). Sure, there wasn't electricity back then, but they did have candles. Wealthy celebrants would place candles on their Christmas trees. Then, in 1882, electric Christmas lights were introduced and Christmas was never the same (in a good way, of course).
It seems to be human nature that once we get a good thing, we can't get enough of it. People were so pleased with electric Christmas lights that they began looking for more ways to use them. Hence, the evolution of Christmas lights from a “tree only” decoration to a house-wide decoration.
Nowadays, Christmas lights are nothing like the lights of yesteryear. You can get them in all colors, shapes and sizes. There are icicle lights for your gutters, net lights for your bushes – even lights wrapped around wire to make decorative Christmas light figures.
Of course, if you're the more traditional type you can get the plain white Christmas lights of years gone by. There are so many Christmas lights to choose from now, there's certainly something for everyone.
This year when you hang your Christmas lights, think about how lucky you are. Imagine if they hadn't yet been invited and they were each individual candles you had to arrange.
Can you believe the lady's name is actually Laura Legend? Well is is!