Ho! Ho! Ho! There are only 20 days left until Christmas and we already feel the Christmas joy and cheer. As we want to bring to you the same festive mood, we would like to share three long forgotten Christmas legends. It’s possible you already know them, and if you don’t, then sit back, take a cup of your favorite tea and we will tell you where and how some of the best known Christmas traditions were brought to life and became the celebrated customs we all enjoy today.
#1 The Legend of the Christmas Stocking
The Christmas custom involving stockings hanging near the chimney and waiting to be filled with gifts is so old and common that we tend to forget how and when it was first celebrated. Well the Christmas legend regarding the stockings involves the most influential Christmas figure today, Santa Claus, in the person of Saint Nicholas.
According to this Christmas legend, Saint Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century bishop, famous for his charity and wisdom, helped three maidens to get married and saved them from poverty. A poor Italian father, the father of the three girls in question, had a tough choice to take into consideration. He was faced with selling one of his three daughters into slavery in order to afford to pay the dowries for the other two.
One night, the girls washed their stockings and hung them over the fireplace to dry. Having heard of the poor family’s misfortune, the good bishop decided to pay them a visit. Late that night, he stopped by their home and simply saw the hanged stockings through the window. He decided to toss three bags filled with gold coins down the girls’ chimney and the money bags fell into the stockings. The Christmas legend says that this is exactly how the tradition of Christmas stocking stuffers was born.
#2 The Legend of the Mistletoe
The Christmas legend of the mistletoe actually starts with the Norse god named Baldur, son of Frigga, the Norse goddess of love and marriage, and Odin, the Norse king of gods. Baldur was considered the god of light and spring, purity and beauty in the Norse mythology. The legend tells us that Frigga wanted to protect her son at all costs so she demanded promises from all the gods and all natural elements not to harm in any way her son. In her motherly rush, Frigga simply forgot to talk to the mistletoe.
Loki, an evil god, heard about Frigga’s forgetting the mistletoe, so he used it as a weapon against Baldur and finally killed him. Of course Frigga was broken hearted and bitterly cried over her beloved son’s death. Her tears fell into the mistletoe causing its pearl-like berries. She declared that the mistletoe shall not be used as a weapon ever again and said “All who stand beneath the mistletoe must kiss in friendship and peace.”
Of course this pagan myth of the mistletoe spread throughout the land and whenever enemies met under it, they laid down their weapons and declared a truce. Much later, some Christians believed that the mistletoe was originally a tree whose wood was used to make the cross on which Christ was crucified. In the late eighteenth century, people in England began using the mistletoe in their home Christmas decorations. It was hung in doorways where guests would walk under it providing an opportunity to kiss for no reason.
#3 The Legend of the Christmas Tree
Our beloved Christmas tree also comes with a Christmas legend. It seems that once upon a time there was somewhere in the world, a poor woodcutter who lived with his family very deep into the forest. On a quiet Christmas Eve the family sat together for dinner when they heard a knock at the door. When they opened the door, they saw a child in torn and ragged clothes, pale and hungry. The woodcutter invited the child in for food even though they did not have much to share and gave him a bed to rest.
The woodcutter and his family prayed to God, thanking him for a warm and safe place to live. In the early morning they awoke to the most beautiful melody and voices they had ever heard. They went to the window to see what choir sings such beautiful music early in the morning, and saw the orphaned child standing with a choir of angels singing an amazing Christmas carol. The child was no longer wearing the tattered clothing, but was dressed in a magnificent robe surrounded by a glowing light.
The child saw the woodcutter’s nice family and said to them all: “I am the Christ Child, I have received your kindness and now this is my gift to you.” He broke a branch from a small fir tree and planted it. He told them, “From this day forward, this tree shall bear fruit at Christmas and you shall have plenty even in the cold winter.” As they stood listening, the branch grew into a beautify tree covered with fruit.
Actually, the Christmas tree as we know it originated in Germany. The German people used to bring the evergreen trees into their homes at Christmas. Later on, the German born Prince Albert and Queen Victoria popularized the custom when they erected the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle in the UK. By the early 20th century, the custom of decorating a Christmas tree was adopted by most Americans of European descent. The tradition of a Christmas tree in the White House started in 1856 with President Franklin Pierce.
What other Christmas legends would you add to this list? Feel free to share them with us as we are always glad to hear a great Christmassy story.
Photo Source: Christmas Pictures.
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