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Christmas Traditions Unwrapped------

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by tonyh, Dec 22, 2003.

  1. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
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    Dec 23, 2002
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    Tony H
    The term Christmas originates from Old English - Cristes Maesse or Christ's Mass.


    The origins of the name Santa Claus are far more unusual. Stemming from the Dutch for St Nicholas - Sint Nikolass - a difference in accent meant the name was shortened to 'Sinterklass' after immigration to New York. When the Dutch moved out of the city, the name was anglicised and became Santa Claus.

    Celebrating Christmas became a crime in the 17th century under Oliver Cromwell. The Puritan leader clearly wasn't a fan of the festive season - he also outlawed holly, ivy and mistletoe!

    One of the holiday's most famous songs, The Twelve Days Of Christmas, is actually based on religious teaching. The partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus while the various presents, such as the five gold rings, are said to symbolise stories within the Bible.

    Although many people believe that shortening Christmas to Xmas is disrespectful, it isn't. The X actually stands for Chi - the first letter of Christ's name in the Greek alphabet.

    The first ever Christmas card was invented by an Englishman in 1843. Fed up with writing special letters to his family during the holidays, businessman Henry Coles decided a card would be quicker. His idea proved so popular that he was able to sell his designs for one shilling (5p) each!



    Kiss and make up ... mistletoe was
    originally used to solve disputes


    Everyone loves grabbing a kiss under the mistletoe during the festive season but the custom was originally used by the Celts to settle fights between warring neighbours. So grab your enemy and make peace this Christmas!

    While British children rely on Santa to bring their gifts on Christmas Eve, Spanish kids receive their presents from Three Wise Men. Over in Italy, children wait for La Befana - a kindly old witch - while Germans get their pressies from a special angel named Christkind. Meanwhile, youngsters in Iceland are visited by not one but 13 different Santas!

    It may be one of the most popular Christmas songs ever but Jingle Bells was actually written for Thanksgiving. Composed by James Pierpoint in 1857, the track was originally called One Horse Open Sleigh. It's not the only Christmas tradition to have its roots in the US holiday - the traditional turkey dinner also started off as a Thanksgiving dish.

    Even big kids love a stocking at Christmas but did you know that the tradition actually stems from Norse folklore? Legend has it that the practice began when St Nicholas - the patron saint of children - threw a bag of gold down a chimney on Christmas Eve. The money landed in a stocking which was hanging over the fire to dry!

    He may be the most famous reindeer on the planet but Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is actually female. Apparently, male reindeers lose their antlers at this time of year and because Rudolph still has his, he is - biologically at least - a girl!



    Lights out ... Christmas bulbs were
    originally used as a secret signal


    Decorating your tree with Christmas lights is another old tradition. The practice began when Christians, persecuted for saying Mass in public, would place a lit candle in their windows, often in a tree or plant, as a sign that prayers would be held there.

    Munching on a mince pie is one of the best things about Christmas. The custom actually dates from the 16th century when people believed eating a pie on the 12 days of Christmas would bring a year's worth of happiness.

    Turkey may be the most popular Christmas dish in Britain but in Russia, families tuck in to a specially-prepared porridge dish known as kutya. Believed to symbolise unity, locals end their meal by throwing a spoonful of porridge onto the ceiling. According to tradition, if it sticks, there will be a plentiful honey harvest the next year.



    Festive fortune ... Christmas puddings are said to bring good luck


    Here in Britain, we add money to our pudding to bring us luck but in Peru, locals have found a new way of securing good fortune at Christmas - wearing bright yellow underwear!

    The first Christmas crackers appeared in Britain in 1847. Originally based upon the French bon bon, their popularity quickly soared after manufacturers placed small love mottoes inside the sweets.

    The first Christmas tree didn't arrive in Britain until 1841 when Queen Victoria's German husband Albert installed a tree in Windsor Castle.

    It's the best-known Christmas carol in the world, but classic Silent Night nearly never got written at all. It was only when his church organ broke down that Austrian priest Joseph Mohr, depressed at the silence inside his church, wrote the tune.

    Christmas only happens once a year here but in Bethlehem, they get to enjoy it three times! That's because the Eastern Orthodox church still uses the old Julian calender, with the big day falling on January 6. Meanwhile the Russian Orthodox faith celebrates on January 7 and the Armenian church six days later.

    The tradition of placing an angel or fairy at the top of the Christmas tree is one of our oldest festive customs. Originally used to ward off evil spirits - believed to be particularly dangerous at this time of the year - it is also a symbol of the nativity story.



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  2. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ

    Aug 3, 2002
    40,617
    California
    Full Name:
    Carbon McCoy
    Hey, Tony, that's pretty neat... Since you brought it up, though, let me show you something i received in an email; maybe you know if there's any truth to it, or not...


    What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and
    especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with
    Christmas?
    Today I found out, thanks to the Internet. From 1558 until 1829, Roman
    Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly.
    Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song
    for young Catholics.
    It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning
    known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a
    code word for a religious reality which the children could remember


    The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

    Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

    Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

    The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark,
    Luke & John.

    The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first
    five books of the Old Testament.

    The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

    Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the
    Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation,
    Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

    The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

    Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit:
    Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness,
    and Self Control

    The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

    The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

    The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of
    belief in the Apostles' Creed.

    So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared
    with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how
    that strange song became a Christmas Carol...so pass it on if you wish.
     
  3. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
    Owner Lifetime Rossa

    Dec 23, 2002
    14,372
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    Full Name:
    Tony H
    Des,
    i'll take your word for it!
     
  4. Enzo

    Enzo F1 Rookie

    Feb 14, 2002
    4,076
    MinneSOta
    Full Name:
    Pat Pasqualini
    You learn something everyday!
     
  5. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ

    Aug 3, 2002
    40,617
    California
    Full Name:
    Carbon McCoy
    LOL, Tony, i have no idea...! :)
     

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