Christmas and Its Rich Traditions

courtesy of

Kolby Corbett, staff writer

Christmas is a holiday celebrated by many around the world and is a time for those to stop their busy work days and spend time with family and friends. With this age-old holiday comes many rich and meaningful traditions that people engage in every year. What people might not know is these traditions they partake in have been around for centuries and continue to adapt and evolve to this day. 

To start, one can simply look into Santa’s origin. He was first depicted in “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (aka. “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) in 1823. However, Santa didn’t become the modernized gift-giver he’s known for being today until the Roaring Twenties, when companies like Coca-Cola started using him as a mascot to sell their products. However, this “St. Nicholas” character is actually based off of a fourth century saint who was popular due to his giving of gifts to children. The idea was passed on and eventually associated with Christmas, creating the jolly man we know today. 

Some other traditions we know of and participate in today were created a long time ago as well. Christmas trees were first used in the middle ages by Germans, and only caught on in the mid 1800s. When we decorate gingerbread houses, the Germans can once again be credited for that. Candy canes are also centuries in the making, noted to be first created in Europe in the 1600s. Wreaths on doors were used in ancient times as symbols of the crown of thorns Christ wore as he was crucified, creating a gory but meaningful aspect to Christmas. Once created to represent eternal life, wreaths are mostly used as decorations to get into the holiday spirit. Christmas lights are almost as old as the light bulb itself- the late 1800s saw the introduction of lights to Christmas trees. The song “The 12 Days of Christmas” was actually first made in the 1700s in a children’s book. 

While some consider Christmas to be one-dimensional, it is actually an intricate holiday intertwined with religion, globalization, and community. The traditions created from such have made a massive impact on holiday culture today and will continue to do so for many years. New ways to celebrate are being created every day, adding to the charm of the most wonderful time of the year.