Christmas Traditions and Legends
- The Christmas Spider Legend explains why we put tinsel on our tree.
- St. Nicholas Day is December 6th. I am considering using this day to talk about St. Nick and what it means to live a generous life. Also we could exchange gifts on this day thereby saving Christmas for the celebration of Christ.
- The Legend of the Candy Cane.
- Christmas Stockings. The story goes that a man had squandered his fortune leaving his daughters without dowries. St. Nicholas heard of their plight and anonymously tossed bags of gold down the chimney which happened to land in the stocking that were hanging by the fire to dry.
- St. Lucia is another example of generous living. Celebrate St. Lucia's Day on December 13th. (Sorry about the popup on that site, but it was the most comprehensive site I could find)
- The gifts of the Magi. Gold -- a gift for a King; Frankincense – a gift for a priest. It was burned as Incense and its fragrance signified the presence of the LORD; Myrrh – a gift for someone who is to die. It was used to prepare bodies for burial.
- The Christmas Nail. Take a very large nail and tie a red ribbon around the head to make a loop for hanging on the tree. It is to be hung on a branch near the trunk where it will not be noticed by others who are admiring the tree. Its presence is known only to the home that hangs it, understood only by the heart that knows it's significance. Put a tag on the nail saying, "The Christmas tree but foreshadows the Christ tree which only He could decorate for us by offering salvation through His crucifixion."
- Gingerbread. Bethlehem is called the "House of bread." Gingerbread houses were first made in Germany to remind people that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that He is the Bread of Life.
- Christmas colors. In the 1300's, trees were decorated with red apples to represent the fall of man and white wafers to symbolize salvation. The evergreen of the fir tree represented eternal life.
- Advent begins the first Sunday of December. Those who follow the Liturgical Calendar do not decorate until Christmas Eve. Advent is about expectation. Christmas begins December 25 and goes until January 6th. Those are the Twelve days of Christmas.
- Epiphany is the 6th of January. This is the day recognized by some traditions as the day the wise men found Jesus and presented their gifts. This used to be the day that gifts were exchanged, so it would be neat to do that instead of exchanging on Christmas day. Plus you could take advantage of the sales!
- "Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen." St. Stephen's Day or the Feast of Stephen is celebrated on December 26th. Stephen was the first person martyred for believing in Jesus. His story can be found in the book of Acts in the Bible.
- Boxing Day is also December 26th. On this day, gifts would be given to the servants and other household staff. Gifts would be given to the poor. We could set aside this day for charitable giving.
Editted to correct the date of Epiphany. Oops. It is in January, not December.