The custom of sending Christmas cards started in Britain in 1840
when the first 'Penny Post' public postal deliveries began. As printing methods
improved, Christmas cards were produced in large numbers from about
1860. They became even more popular in Britain when a card could be
posted in an unsealed envelope for one half-penny.
Traditionally, Christmas cards showed religious pictures - Mary, Joseph
and baby Jesus, or other parts of the Christmas story. Today, pictures
are often winter pictures, Santa Claus, or romantic scenes of past times.
The first such Christmas greetings in the
United States are
thought to be those issued by a New York engraver in 1851.
Richard Pease printed cards, showing a family dinner scene,
that read "A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year, to: From: ."
However, it was not until Louis Prang of Boston introduced a line
of cards in 1875 that they became widely used.
Send a Christmas Postcard from:
Adventure Post Office
Christmas has a cherished legacy of legend and love. As a symbol of
good will and affection, mistletoe has special significance in this panoply
of giving and sharing, candlelight and carols. In pagan times, Druid
priests of Britain distributed sprigs of mistletoe to their followers.
Whomever had the plant hanging over his doorway would enjoy the
blessings of good health and good fortune though the coming year. The
custom of kissing under the mistletoe originated in Scandinavia. It was
believed that the goddess of love and beauty would kiss all who stood
beneath its boughs. So today to exchange a kiss under a sprig of
mistletoe is to taste the joy of love!
click below to
Send Flowers to the One You
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark raisins
2 sticks cinnamon
8 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
zest of one lemon
zest of one orange
1 lemon, seeds removed,
2-1/2 quarts apple cider
Mix together all but the cider; bring to a boil;
reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes. Add cider;
stir well. Makes 22 servings (11 cups)
1 cup finely chopped beef suet
2 cups fine bread crumbs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 pint flour
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup dried currants
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup citron, sliced thin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
4 well-beaten eggs
1 tsp of baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp warm water
Flour the fruit thoroughly. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar,
spices, and salt in the milk. Stir in the fruit, nuts, bread
crumbs, and suet. Then stir in the dissolved baking soda.
Then add in the flour.
Boil or steam for 4 hours. Serve with wine or brandy (which
may be flambed) or any well-flavored sauce.
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Christmas Traditions and History
In ancient Rome, people exchanged gifts on New Years' Day, as a way
of saying "Happy New Year". These might be jewelry, gold and silver,
or home-made pastry, cookies and candies. In French Canada, this
custom has been preserved. Another custom was to give gloves or else
the money to purchase them, which was known as "glove money".
This custom was extended to metal pins, introduced in the 16th century.
Eventually "pin money" came to mean the little bit of cash that women
were allowed to spend as they pleased when they lacked economic rights.
Sweets were given to ensure sweetness for the year to come; lamps to wish
for the light and warmth; and money was given to wish for increasing
wealth. Wrapping of gifts may have originated in Denmark.
When the Apostles brought the Gospel to Rome, the people learned of the
three Wise Men who came from the Orient to present gifts to the newborn
King. From then on, the old custom was only slightly changed. The exchanging of
presents remained, but now it was done in imitation of the three Holy Kings.
Customs for Christmas gift-giving vary from country to country. Depending
on the place, the gifts are supposedly delivered by elves, angels, the Christ
Child, and even by Jesus' camel. They are provided by the Three Kings or
Wise Men, or by Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. When the Dutch settled
what was to become New York, they brought with them Saint Nicholas or,
as they called him, Sinterklaas. From there his name was altered to Santa Claus.
In Brussels, it is a custom to give living gifts such as birds, pets, flowers. In
the West Indies it is the custom to exchange or give hospitality, service or talent.
Material gifts are not exchanged.
Most of our Christmas traditions aren't as old as we think.
The practice of
buying fancy gifts for Christmas Day didn't really get rolling until the 1860s.!
In 1867, Macy's, the New York City department store, stayed open
until midnight Christmas Eve. Seven years later, in 1874, they were
the first to design their window displays around a Christmas theme. That
was the beginning of the gift-giving craze.
to the Top
In Victorian times, people had already started decorating trees with candies and cakes
hung with ribbon. In 1880, Woolworths first sold manufactured Christmas tree ornaments,
and they caught on very quickly. Martin Luther, in the 16th century, is credited as being
the first person to put candles on a tree, and the first electrically lighted Christmas
tree appeared in 1882. Calvin Coolidge in 1923 ceremoniously lit the first outdoor tree at
the White House, starting that long tradition. Fake snow and tinsel... Who knows? It's
probably related to the song "White Christmas".
Christmas :: Going Home :: Christmas Stories
Giving Gifts :: Santa Claus :: Decorating I
Decorating II :: Traditions I :: Traditions II
Birth of Christ
Home || Spring || Summer || Autumn || Winter
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Labor Day || Back to School || Grandparent's Day || Columbus Day
Halloween || Election & Return Day ||
Christmas || Hanukkah || Nutcracker Ballet || Secret Santa 2002
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Arbor Day || Happy Birthday || Webrings || Awards || Flag Day
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August || September || October || November || December
January 07, 2006
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