Saturday, 15 December 2007
03:24:05 PM (GMT)
I got this from kidsville news at my library
published: December 2007
By Staff Report
Christians all over the world celebrate December 25 as Christmas, the anniversary of
the birth of Jesus Christ. Families usually have their own traditions around the
holiday. They may decorate a Christmas tree, sing Christmas carols, have a big family
meal, open gifts and go to church with the family. Some families include traditions
from their ancestors, such as burning a Yule log, kissing under the mistletoe or
burying good-luck trinkets in a cake. Have you ever wondered why we do some of the
things we do during the holidays? The facts below just might explain a few of these
In places all over the world, gifts are often brought to children by a mysterious,
magical figure. In the United States, Santa Claus is thought to bring the gifts.
Santa is a jolly, fat fellow in a red suit with fur trim. The original Santa Claus is
thought to have been Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop in Asia Minor who was
famous for his generosity. He became the patron saint of children. The children of
Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands still know him as Saint Nicholas.
In the Middle Ages, a tree called the Paradise Tree, an evergreen hung with apples,
was a prop in a play about Adam and Eve. People began to set up similar trees in
their homes on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve. As the trees became more
associated with Christmas, people added candles, cookies and other decorations. The
Christmas-tree custom was introduced in the United States by German settlers in the
1700s. But they did not become popular until the mid-1800s, when a German prince,
Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, married Queen Victoria of England and had a decorated
Christmas tree set up in Windsor Castle.
The first Christmas greeting card was designed in England in 1843 by an artist named
John C. Horsley. The design showed a family party, with the words A Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year to You beneath.
The song Jingle Bells was actually written as a song to celebrate Thanksgiving, not
Christmas! It was written in 1850 by James Pierpont, and the original title was The
One Horse Open Sleigh. It was written to honor sleigh races held in Massachusetts.
The poinsettia is a popular Christmas decoration. The flowers are thought to resemble
the shape of the Star of Bethlehem. Mexican legend says that these beautiful red
flowers first grew as a miracle for a poor child who wanted to bring a gift to the
manger scene at the village church.
The History of Christmas
The name Christmas comes from the Old English Christes Maesse, or Christs Mass. The
story of Christmas is told in the Bible. The Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke
tell how Jesus was born in Bethlehem. According to the story, his mother Mary and her
husband Joseph, were traveling and tried to find a room in an inn, but the inn was
full. There was only room in the stable where the animals were kept. The baby Jesus
was born there. Angels announced his birth to shepherds outside the town, and a
bright star led the Wise Men to him. But the Gospels do not tell the date of Christs
birth. The early Christian churches were divided over when to celebrate Christmas.
The Western church, based in Rome, chose December 25, while the Eastern church chose
January 6. Eventually, the holidays merged, and Christmas was celebrated in a 12-day
included both days. Today only the Armenian church observes Christmas on January 6.
In other churches, this day is known as Epiphany and is said to mark either the visit
of the Wise Men or (in Eastern churches) Christ's baptism.
Sources: Pascoe, Elaine, Christmas. The New Book of Knowledge; Christmas, Britannica
To learn more about Christmas, visit your local library and check out these great
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo. 2007, Candlewick Press. It is just before Christmas,
when an organ grinder and monkey appear on the street corner outside Francess
apartment. Frances can't stop thinking about them, especially after she sees the man
monkey sleeping outside on the cold street at midnight.
Little Rabbitt's Christmas by Harry Horse. 2007, Peachtree Publishers. It is
Christmas Eve, and Little Rabbit sees the perfect gift in a shop window: a lovely red
sled. When his wish comes true, he shows off the sled to his friends but doesnt want
to share when they want a turn. When he and the sled run into trouble, he quickly
learns the value of friends.
Christmas Crafts from Around the World by Judy Ann Sadler. 2003, Kids Can Press. This
book offers projects based on craft traditions from 14 countries, from a Dutch
Sinterklaas sack to a Mexican party pinata.