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From Christmas to New Year, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, the seasons between late fall and early winter are known as “Decoration Seasons.” Each of these festive periods is traditionally known with its kind of decorations, which maybe string lights, flowers, tree ornaments wreath tied to the door or any other decoration to goes in tune with the season.
In this article, we seek to find where those string lights, tree ornaments, garlands and other décor that dominate our festive seasons come from, and the histories behind them.
Holiday seasons are light-up seasons- seasons for power companies to make a lot of bucks. During Christmas season for instance, you’ll see Christmas string lights glowing at all corners. On every window, every door post, every lawn in the neighborhood and even on highways and recreational centers. In the Christian faith, Christmas string lights are symbolic. They represent the light of the stars that guide Jesus Christ to the earth from heaven; or the light that guide the three wise men to the manger where Christ was born.
Holiday lightening has been around even long before electric bulbs were discovered. However, as a wide range of bulb colors, sizes and designs came into place over the centuries, it replaced the traditional use of fire-prone candles, which used to be the main source of holiday lightening in past times.
One can easily say that sweet-smelling holiday wreaths made from pine boughs are the flavor of the season. With its sweet smelling savor, this wreath has a history that could be traced back to ancient times even before the holidays they’re used for was conceived. For instance wreaths made from olive branches or laurels served as symbol of victory in pre-historic Greek times. Even ancient Scandinavian and pagan Germanic cultures used candlelit wreaths as symbols of hope as winter solstice ended and they earnestly waited for the sun to return to the skies.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Christians use four-candle Advent wreath – most times tied to their doors- to usher in the season. However, across all kinds of faith, the use of wreath made from holly, evergreen, or flowers has found mainstay in the center of holidays and celebrations all over the world.
Just like wreaths, garlands bring sweet-smelling savor to the beauty of holidays. Like candlelit wreaths which have a history of symbolizing hope, the history of garlands goes back to the olden days- during winter when the trees have lost their leaves and everything seem to have withered away, garlands were used to bring some color into the home.
The rich aroma, versatile color and full texture of fresh garlands make them fit into different kinds of décor settings. It takes a whole lot of time and stress to weave garlands together, but at the end of the day, when you’re done decorating, and see just how much beauty it brings to the home, you’ll realize that it’s worth the stress.
7. Christmas trees
Christmas trees are easily the most magnificent “monuments” you’d find almost everywhere during Christmas season. In homes, offices, highways, malls, parks and every other place you may think of, people idolize Christmas trees, and design them in many different string lights. Christmas trees also have an interesting history.
According to religious historians and academics, the history of decorated candle-lit evergreen trees can be traced back to traditional Norse celebrations of the winter solstice. On this day, which is the shortest day of the year, these candlelit trees were made for two main reasons; to hasten the end of winter and to bring lights and sparkles to the long nights. Over the years, Romans and Christians adopted this tradition and it became popular ever since.
Dreidels is a traditional Hanukkah toy that has four sides and a spinning top. Each of the four sides of a dreidel has Hebrew letters inscribed on it which means “a great miracle happened here.” Dreidels were traditionally used at the Temple of Jerusalem to mark the eight-day lightening of the menorah.
Originally, driedels are used in a traditional game where players have to spin the top and watch it roll till it stops. Each time a player gets the right spin, he’ll pick a chocolate coin or any other prize from the central pot, a player who gets the wrong spin has to put a chocolate coin or any other prize into the pot.
The history of menorahs dates back to 165 B.C when Jewish fighters known as Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees put the temple back in order, but the Syrians had already extinguished the flame in the menorah of the temple. The Maccabees had only enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one day, but miraculously, that little amount of oil kept the flame burning for eight days while the Maccabees sort for more oil.
Till this day, Hanukkahs celebrate this great miracle for eight days, during which they exchange gifts and light menorahs every night throughout the eight days period.
Do you sometimes wonder why Christmas revelers hang stockings on mantles every Christmas Eve, hoping to wake up and find them filled with gifts? Well, let’s find out why.
This tradition can be traced back to the fourth century when the Turkish bishop, St. Nicholas of Myra did something that’ll resonate forever in the history of Christmas. There was a very poor family with many daughters who had remained unmarried because they couldn’t afford to pay dowry. One night, as the girls hung their stockings by the fire to dry; St. Nicholas snuck into their house and put gold coins into each of the stockings. The next morning, the girls woke up and saw that a hidden benefactor had provided money for their dowries.
Saint Nicholas of Myra is now called Santa Claus, and this practice has found its way into all parts of the world.
3. Nativity Scenes
The birth of Christ is the root of Christian religion, and thus during Christmas seasons, Christians come up with different ways to depict the scene of the manger where Jesus was born. The scene is always designed to show the prominent characters- Baby Jesus, his parents Mary and Joseph, and the three wise men from the east that came to the manger to present gifts and worship the new born savior.
Nativity scenes are displayed both indoors and outdoors. Indoor scenes are usually smaller, made with woods carvings, precious metal miniatures or maybe portrayed in an expensive glass. Outdoor scenes are more elaborate with theatrical string lights and electrically-powered live scenes displayed on roads, churches and public centers.
Although the connection between nutcrackers and Christmas is fairly recent, these “bangers” as they’re called in some climes, have found a very prominent place in Christmas celebration.
Though Wilhelm Fuchtner, a German carpenter made the first toy-soldier-shaped nutcracker as far back as 1872, it never had a place in Christmas festivities until it was used in Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892. Although the ballet mostly focused on the beauty of Christmas holiday, the nutcracker used in the ballet from henceforth found its way into the list of must-have decorations for Christmas season.
1. Pumpkins and Gourds
Although Pumpkins and Gourds belong mainly to Halloween and Thanksgiving, nature-loving decorators know exactly how to mix them into seasonal decorations.
Gourds mostly ripen before winter sets in, during the end of the harvest season. Early farmers usually store gourds that’ll serve as food during winter period; hence this provides enough gourds for decoration for fall celebrations.
Actually, we can say that the gold, brown, red and orange colors of autumn palette were inspired by the beauty of fall gourds.