Growing up in the 60’s, times were different. We didn’t have the Internet, Facebook, or any social media, so staying in touch with people who lived far away was usually done during the holiday season with the sending of the yearly Christmas card. Nowadays, we can keep in touch with relatives and friends a dozen times zones away much easier – and for no postage costs! People still do, though, send out holiday greeting cards, a custom that was started around 1843 by a civil servant in England called Henry Cole. He and his friend John Horsley designed the very first cards and sold them for a shilling each. As the quality of printing improved and people earned more money for “extravagant” items, Christmas cards became more popular. Again, back before the cyberuniverse ruled the world, the postal service did the majority of its delivering during two holidays every year – Christmas and Mother’s day.
I’m going to be honest and tell you I haven’t sent out holiday cards in years. The people I want to keep in touch with, I do, all year round. Facebook has made it possible to connect and keep up with people much more easily than ever before. I simply don’t have the time or the inclination to sit down and send a card to someone I spoke with yesterday! IF that’s a little Scrooge-y, okay. I’ll own that.
Another thing that was different when I was growing up was the Christmas tree and the ornaments we decorated it with. I don’t have one memory that isn’t filled with the tree being filled with those awful and cheap glass ornaments in a variety of colors. they were horrendously made and produced — I feel — simply to shatter. Truly. If you walked near the tree a ball would fall to the floor no matter how well you’d secured it, and shatter into ten thousand shards of glass that was almost impossible to completely sweep or vacuum up. I distinctly remember walking in my living room when I was eight in July and getting my foot pierced by the sharp remnants of a fallen, broken ball. The very first decorations put on trees when they became popular in the 18th century was apples, oranges, and -God Help me!– lit candles. Hallmark began producing specialized ornaments during the 20th century to depict all manner of thing and today, most homes in America that put up a tree, have at least one Hallmark-inspired or made ornament. I’ve been honest on my Instagram account and share pictures of the 4 trees I have in my home. Almost all of my ornaments – except for the tree filled with ornaments from the countries I’ve traveled to – are Hallmark ornaments.
Do you put a candle in your window during the Christmas season ( or one in each window!!)?
This tradition means different things to people of different faiths. Christians liken a lit candle to the Star of Bethlehem, guiding the wise men to the manger. The lights from a Menorah symbolize the miracle of Chanukah when a single jug of oil burned for 8 solid days. Irish Catholics used to put candles in the window to denote that the house was safe for Priests to enter during the Protestant uprising when Priests were in danger of being put to death. I like candles in the window because to me they symbolize that the way home will always be lit for whoever wants to journey there. The Alabama song Candle in the Window exemplifies this thought.
There are so many traditions that people hold fast to during the holiday season. I think that’s what makes our shared humanity so wonderful. Different cultures and diverse religions bring many things to the table. WOuldn’t it be nice if we could all respect, honor, and enjoy one anothers traditions?
So ( you knew this was coming!) what are some of your favorite Holiday traditions. I’m going to pick one person who comments and send them an ecopy of my Christmas book A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. So….talk to me.
2 responses to “Christmas/Holiday Traditions”
Good morning and Merry Christmas Peggy!
Thank you for the info on the window lights traditions. Each year I would either display at least one blue candle in a window and/or put blue Christmas lights on a tree or shrub outside, a newer tradition that shows support for our men and women in law enforcement.
My mother was big on all things Christmas beginning with the family photo usually taken on the hottest and most humid day in August back in the days when we actually used film in cameras. My mother would write an accompanying poem, with the occasional apology to the lyricist of a well-known hymn, describing some (sometimes cringe-worthy) characteristic of each of the eight of us, in perfect rhym and meter of course: we are still scarred by some of the descriptors. My mother and I would spend weeks addressing the 500+ envelopes to prepare for the assembly line mailing. On the occasional year when we bumped up too closely to Christmas my mother would get worried inquiries about the status of the Guthorn’s Christmas card.
Christmas Eve included the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas”, singing in the choir at midnight mass for the older kids, and the annual Christmas Eve open house at my Uncle Joe and Aunt Booby’s which included copious spirits.
From the time I was a child, my very favorite personal tradition has been to lay on the floor with all of the lights out, looking at the Christmas tree in all its glowing glory.
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Amanda those are some pretty powerful memories!!! and fabulous ones. If I ever had to mail 500 cards I would have protested.100 was 99 too much for me!!!