More than 2 billion people are anxiously awaiting the coming of Christmas. Many associate the holiday with lavish decorations, gifts, and delicious food. But Christmas is much more than that. The spirit of this beloved Christian holiday as we know it today is shrouded in legends and myths. We at The Dope Lists have selected 10 of them to acquaint you with.
Legend has it that a poor father had three daughters to marry but no dowry money. St. Nicholas found out about the family and wanted to help a lot, but without the father’s knowledge. So he waited until dark and dropped three bags of gold through the chimney, which fell into the girls’ socks on the fireplace. When they found the full socks in the morning, their joy was boundless. Soon all three daughters got families. Since then, the tradition of children hanging their stockings on the fireplace has emerged.
When was Jesus Christ born?
Strange as it may sound, nowhere is it written precisely when the son of God was born. Centuries ago, St. Hippolytus of Rome suggested that the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus on the vernal equinox (March 25th). The pagan celebrations called Saturnalia were celebrated in December, and they helped define December 25th as the day of Christmas. However, this theory, which we have accepted as accurate, has many inaccuracies. First, the human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, and the birth should have been around mid-January. And second, according to the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus was born, the shepherds were tending their flocks, which sounds strange for the twilight months. However, in Bethlehem, the winter is milder.
Coca-Cola and the image of Santa Claus
Everyone knows that the prototype of Santa Claus is St. Nicholas. The good-natured old man began his existence in England. In the 15th century, Protestants turned the saint into a drunken gift giver called Father Christmas. Immigrants in the United States have kept the tradition but under the name Chris Kringle. The image of the modern Santa Claus was not popularized until the 19th century through the illustration of Thomas Nast, and later with the book by Lyman Frank Baum – ‘The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus’ (1902). The true glory of Santa Claus came during the Great Depression, thanks to Coca-Cola. The company suffered losses due to the dire economic situation, so the idea to use the face of the Coca-Cola drinker Santa Claus appeared.
Santa Claus sitting in the chimney
We tell our children that Santa enters through the chimney to leave the presents under the Christmas tree. There are usually questions about how the fluffy old man enters the chimney and goes down without being noticed. We do not know how this story came about. Legend has it that a father once tried to leave his children’s gifts unnoticed by going down the chimney. This turned out to be a terrible idea because he got stuck and couldn’t get out. The situation was further complicated when his family, unaware that he was in the chimney, lit the fireplace.
Robert May’s family lived in Chicago. His wife was seriously ill, and their little daughter was very sad. The question of why her mother was not like everyone else provoked May’s imagination, and he made up the story of Rudolph – the only deer with a big shiny red nose. Because of its uniqueness, it was the subject of ridicule. But when Santa went on his traditional tour, the weather was foggy, and he couldn’t find his way around. Then Rudolph came to his aid, and its red nose proved to be its most valuable possession. The little girl liked the story so much that her father made a book, called it ‘The Night Before Christmas’, and gave it to his daughter. It became so popular that in 1947, 6 million copies were sold.
Long before the advent of Christianity and the proclamation of December 25th as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, sweets were an essential part of the then holiday called Saturnalia. No wonder this tradition originated from the Romans. It is no secret that they loved to indulge, and feasts abounded in food. Christmas cookies come from the Dutch word koekje, which means Christmas cake. Gradually, the tradition spread throughout Europe and the New World, thanks to immigrants. Each country has its own typical holiday cakes prepared every year. All recipes for Christmas cookies derive from Europe and preserve the folklore of European nations.
The Christmas Tree
A poor woodcutter lived with his family in the woods. One night there was a knock at the door as they were having dinner. The woodcutter opened it and saw a little boy in rags. He was invited to dinner and offered shelter. The family woke up to the fabulous singing coming from outside in the morning. The boy was not dressed in rags but in a magnificent robe this time. It turned out that this was the son of God. He plucked a branch, planted it, and told the woodcutter and his family that this tree would bear abundance even in winter as a reward for their kindness. The Christmas tree as we know it today appeared in Germany in the 14th-15th centuries. It gained real popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria, who started the tradition in the Kingdom by placing a huge decorated tree in the palace for the Christmas holidays. The subjects followed her example, and each family began to decorate a Christmas tree.
In the Middle Ages in Europe, the belief was that a large candle should burn continuously until the Twelfth Night to commemorate the coming of the three wise men. Candles were placed on windowsills during the Victorian era and symbolized empathy for people with complicated destinies. Their goal was to light the houses between December 25th and January 6th to help every poor person find a way to a warm home and food. No stranger should be sent away tonight because he may be the child Christ wandering from house to house looking for a place to spend the night. It is also believed that the candle flame has the power to drive away evil spirits during the darkest days of the year. Norwegians are afraid of extinguishing Christmas candles because it is a sign that something terrible will happen in the family.
The Norwegian goddess of love and marriage, Friga, had a son, Baldur, the God of light. He often had nightmares that his life was in danger. To protect him, his mother went around all the gods and natural forces to ask them not to hurt him. But she forgot to talk to the mistletoe. Baldur’s only enemy, Loki, learned of Frigg’s omission and ordered a mistletoe arrow to be fired into Baldur’s heart to kill him. But Frigg’s tears fell on the mistletoe and turned into pearls. The other gods responded to Frigg’s pleas and revived Baldur. She was in the seventh heaven of happiness and walked and kissed everyone standing under the pearl fruit. Frigga ordered the mistletoe never to be used as a weapon again. Thus she created the tradition of all those who stand under the mistletoe to kiss as a symbol of love, affection, and peace.
One of the oldest Mexican traditions is to bring flowers to church on Christmas Eve in honor of Jesus. In a small mountain village lived a boy named Mario. Every year he watched people go to church with bouquets of fresh flowers in his hands, but he could not buy a nosegay. So he decided to go to the field and look for wildflowers that survived despite the cold and snow. Then he heard a mysterious voice inviting him to pluck the plants at his feet and bring them to Jesus. Mario listened to the voice carrying the dried flowers to the church. Everyone made fun of him, but the bouquet turned into huge red flowers with bright green leaves to their surprise. No one had ever seen such a beautiful flower in their lives. All who witnessed the miracle knelt before the flowers, and the mysterious voice repeated that the most precious gifts come from the heart.
The legends of Christmas and the traditions are so many that it is impossible to know them all. Some have become very popular and widely accepted, while others carry the spirit of their own country. It is not uncommon for every country to have its own interpretation of legends. But imagine how many people love this time of year to give birth to these countless legends and traditions. Well, it looks like it’s Christmas magic.
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