Do You Know the History behind These 10 Christmas Traditions?

Do You Know the History behind These 10 Christmas Traditions?
For many people, the thought of Christmas conjures up the image of numerous festive traditions: baking cookies, exchanging gifts, decorating an evergreen, and drinking eggnog or cocoa. However, many of these traditions have had a surprising journey on their way to becoming a part of the modern American Christmas.

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1. Santa Claus

For most Americans, Santa has stronger associations with Christmas than Jesus does. For Christians, this is disappointing, since Christ’s birth is supposed to be the foundation for the holiday.

However, legends about a mid-winter gift giver date back as far as the 3rd century. According to, Swiss and Germans told of a Kris Kringle, or “Christ Child” who gave gifts to good children. English children anticipated Father Christmas filling their stockings with treats, and the French Père Noël left gifts in shoes.

A monk named St. Nicholas born around 280 A.D. seems the primary source of inspiration for Santa Claus. Nicholas was known for his kindness and generosity as he “traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.”

These legends eventually transformed into the Santa Claus seen in malls and on Christmas decorations, aided by Clement Clarke Moore’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and cartoonist Thomas Nast’s depiction of a jolly, grandfatherly gift-bringer in red. 


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