A History of Decorating Traditions

By on December 19, 2012, in Soft Surroundings

Ever wonder where tinsel came from? Why we put a wreath on our door – or why we kiss under the mistletoe? Here are a few interesting facts you may not know about the most wonderful time of the year:

The wreath is traced to the symbolism of evergreen trees in pre-Christian winter rites – a pagan symbol for life enduring the winter. Ancient druid and pagan cultures also believed evergreens had magical properties because it stayed green all year long. Modern day holiday wreaths date back to Germany in the 16th century.

Poinsettias are traced back to a legend in Mexico of a small boy who was too poor to give a buy generic viagra gift to the church on Christmas Eve so he knelt outside the church to pray in the snow. It was later claimed that a beautiful plant with scarlet leaves immediately grew where the boy prayed. The little boy took the plant and offered it as a gift. In Mexico, it is called Flor de la Noche Buena.

In pre-Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of romance, fertility and vitality.  Believed to be of ancient Scandinavian custom, a man and a woman who met under a hanging of mistletoe were obliged to kiss.

The Menorah
The Hanukkah has nine arms in association with two miracles of oil. After fighting off an army and rededicating a holy temple, the ancient Maccabees ran into another dilemma — an oil shortage. They had only enough pure olive oil to light the traditional seven-armed menorah for one day. So they lit it anyway, and that one-day supply miraculously lasted eight days long, which is why the Festival of Lights is celebrated for eight days. The nine arms comes from eight days of celebration, and one “attendant candle” used to light all other candles.

The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, strings of popcorn, white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers. Glass baubles were first made in Lauscha, Germany in the 19th century, by Hans Greiner who produced garlands of glass beads similar to the popcorn strands and tin figures that could be hung on trees. The first American-made glass ornaments were created by William DeMuth in New York in 1870.

Tinsel originated in Germany in the early 1600s. It was made by hammering out a paper thin silver alloy and then cutting the silver into strips.

Christmas Stockings
As the story goes, St. Nicholas overheard the story about a man who was so far in debt that his creditors were going to sell him and his family into slavery. Moved by the story, he wanted to help the family. Not wanting his identity known, he tossed a bag of gold through the window during the night. When he threw the bag of gold through the window, it landed in one of the children’s stockings that had been hung up to dry.

Outdoor Christmas Lights
The first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was the creation of Edward H. Johnson. His Christmas tree was hand-wired with 80 red, white and blue electric incandescent light bulbs the size of walnuts, on December 22, 1882 at his home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. By 1900, businesses started stringing up Christmas lights behind their windows. Not surprising that the first recorded instance of the use of Christmas lights outside was in

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San Diego, CA in 1904. McAdenville, North Carolina is believed to have started the tradition of decorating outdoor evergreen trees with Christmas lights in 1956.

The Candy Cane
In the early 1670’s, a German choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral had sticks of candy bent into the shape of a shepherd’s crook that he would then pass out to children attending the ceremonies of the living nativity recreations (also called crèches). This became a popular tradition and eventually the passing of candy canes at living crèches spread throughout Europe and America.

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