We do the same things every holiday season – consume abundant amounts of eggnog, decorate a tree, send cards and treats to our loved ones, kiss under a leafy branch, hang stockings over the fireplace and sing off-key carols about figgy pudding.
Yes, these are our Christmas traditions and many of them have been around for centuries. Let’s explore some favorites.
The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of many homes. When Germany’s Prince Albert came to England in 1840 to marry Queen Victoria, he brought the Christmas tree with him. The royal family decorated it with small gifts, toys, candles, candies and fancy cakes, giving rise to the modern ornament.
The origin of the fireplace stocking owes more to myth than fact. Legend says the original Saint Nicholas came upon a small village one year and heard about an impoverished widower who was devastated by the passing of his wife and could not afford to provide gifts for his three daughters. St. Nick knew the man wouldn’t accept money, so he dropped some gold coins down the chimney, which landed in the girl’s stockings, hung by the fireplace to dry. Thus the modern tradition was born.
While today we wear hats and mittens and go door-to-door wishing our neighbors good cheer in song, caroling originally had little to do with Christmas. The carols of the 12th and 13th centuries were reserved for church processionals.
But let’s be honest – one of the most beloved traditions involves our stomachs! There’s figgy pudding – which is not eaten much today – but is always requested in the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The origins of eggnog in the U.S. are older than the country itself. The first batch was made at Captain John Smith’s Jamestown settlement in 1607. It’s said the colonists called their mixture “egg and grog,” the latter being a then-common term for any drink made with rum.
Lastly among conventional holiday institutions is the elusive mistletoe. Legend says the plant can bring good luck, heal wounds, increase fertility and ward off evil spirits. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began in the Victorian era and was once believed to inevitably lead to marriage.
Whatever holiday traditions you revisit every year, we hope that you and your loved ones are enjoying a magical holiday season! We look forward to seeing you for your next appointment in 2017!