Now that I have sent my Victorian Christmas manuscript off to my editor, I can actually breathe again. I have a fewdays left to get ready for Christmas.
In my house, we combine both the British and American traditions for Christmas, so I am always very interested in finding about other people's Christmas traditions. For me, once is pleasant, twice is coincidence and three times is a tradition.
Many people do not realize that even the date 25 December is traditional. In approximately 323 AD, Pope Julius l formally declared 25 December as the feast day of Christ's birth. He said he was simply confirming the several centuries old tradition. However, the feast day did dovetail nicely with the pagan solstice celebrations such as Saturnalia. The Coptic Christians celebrated the feast of Christ's birth in May. So who knows... but it is a long standing tradition. Because the Eastern Christian church still follows the old Julian calender, they celebrate Christmas Eve on the 6 January or Epiphany. There is a tradition that the Glastonbury thorn which supposedly grew from Joseph of Armathea's staff blooms at midnight on Old Christmas Eve.
The early Christian church added many of the pagan solstice traditions to the feast of Christ's birthday to make it easier for people -- for example decorating houses with evergreens comes from the Roman tradition of Saturnalia, the Yule log from the celebration of Jule in honour of Thor.
Some can be traced back to certain people (or so legend has it) -- the multi-figured creche or crib that is popular in Italy was inspired by St Francis of Assisi. Christmas trees were popularized by Martin Luther. A choirmaster in Cologne in 1670 started handing out white boiled sweets in the shape of canes to those people attending living Creche services. Christmas crackers were started by Tom Smith in 1850. And so it goes.
Does anyone have any special family traditions?
There are many ways to celebrate Christmas, but I hope whatever your traditions you have a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.