Betcha Didn't Know
Re: Cool Facts About Christmas Traditions
I was going to publish a big ole Hallmark Christmas Movie review today. I’ve binge watched exactly fourteen thousand over the past two weeks. (I know, I know! What’s gotten into me? Apparently my mind is only able to accommodate positive vibes and super cheesy romance right now).
Then I went to church Sunday.
My pastor mentioned that he had no idea where the poinsettia originated. Well, you know me. That’s all it took for my mind to race a million miles a second. I don’t think I even heard the rest of his sermon (sorry, Mike). I had to sit on my hands not to begin research right then.
Once I sat down to write, I fell into a rabbit hole of interesting facts.
In 1848, Queen Victoria made the tree popular in the English-speaking world with a sketch of her family standing by a fir tree.
Franklin Pierce, 14th president of the United States, was the first to place a tree in the White House in 1856. Let me stop here a quick second and confess something. I had ZERO idea Franklin Pierce was our 14th president. No, wait… I don’t remember ever hearing his name. Franklin Roosevelt, yes. Franklin the green turtle on the Family Channel, yes. But Franklin Pierce? Nope.
In 1882, Edward Johnson, Thomas Edison’s assistant, came up with the idea of putting electric lights on trees. Wonder who came up with the pre-lit tree? I’m giving thanks for them this year.
Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president, banned trees from the White House for environmental reasons. The bah humbug me would have been a Teddy fan.
Addis Brush Company, manufacturer of the toilet brush, created the first artificial Christmas tree using brush bristles dyed green. Next time you’re cleaning the bathroom, I know what’ll be on your mind!
During the Great Depression in 1931, construction workers put up the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Workers pooled their money to buy a 20ft tree, decorating it with paper garland, tin cans, and strings of cranberries. The rest is history.
In Eastern Europe, trees were hung upside down. They were flipped to represent Christ being crucified on the cross. I don’t get this one.
In the Ukraine, families decorated their trees using artificial spider webs. According to legend, a widow woman and her children couldn’t afford to decorate their tree on Christmas Eve. They woke up the next morning to cobwebs all over the tree. Sunlight hit, turning them silver and gold. Sorry Charlotte, this type of tinsel is a BIG no from me.
Origin of the name comes from two Anglo-saxon words, “mist” and “tan,” which mean dung twig. The plant often spreads from bird droppings on tree branches. Gross.
Mistletoe was used as a treatment for arthritis, leprosy, and infertility. In Medieval times, women in England tied mistletoe around their waists in hopes of becoming more fertile.
The tradition of hanging mistletoe in doorways dates back to the Druids. They believed the plant brought good luck and kept out evil spirits. Why people kiss under it is still a mystery! I’ve never kissed anyone under the mistletoe. Have you?
Norway - People hide brooms on Christmas Eve. Tradition dates back hundreds of years when people believed witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride.
Venezuela - Roads throughout the city are closed on Christmas Eve. Residents head to church early in the morning on roller skates! Why the tradition began is not known. The most popular belief is that it is their form of sledding.
Iceland - Stockings aren’t hung on the chimney, but shoes are placed in the window sills! Children celebrate thirteen days of Christmas. Thirteen yule lads visit children nightly and fill their shoes with candy if they’ve been good. Rotten potatoes are left for those on the naughty list.
My research of the poinsettia didn’t produce riveting results. However, if you live in and around the upstate, you might find this interesting. Our very own Joel Roberts Poinsett, first US Ambassador to Mexico, introduced the plant to the United States in 1820. He became obsessed with the flower and began growing them on his South Carolina plantation, hence the name.
I could go on and on, but this should satisfy inquiring minds!