The Holidays are here! Is your Christmas tree up?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Oh, no, wait, it’s Happy Holidays!

Little early? Have you gone shopping recently? It’s November 3 and Christmas decorations/cards/wrapping paper and ads are already there. Halloween was promoted in August. The national retailers bank on the commercialization of the holidays. But was it always so? The answer is no.

thanksgiving-2The original Thanksgiving dates back to 1621 when the Wampanoag Indians shared the autumn harvest with the surviving members of the Plymouth colony. One of the few times the natives helped the colonists learn what did grow here (unlike the seeds they brought from England) and how to live in northern climate. Since then, towns and states celebrated thanksgiving individually. But in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a National holiday to be celebrated in November.



The Christmas Tree- Godey's Lady's Book 1860Christmas – This truly was a religious holiday – a day to celebrate in church with no work. The Christmas tree did not take off as a symbol of the holiday until the 19th century when Queen Victoria used it. The British Empire was the nation to watch and many Americans mimicked what they did, especially socially in clothing, trends and holidays. The Christmas tree was Germanic in origin, the evergreen a wistful remembrance of greener, warmer days to come. The queen’s husband, Prince Albert, was German. The queen was popular so when she had a tree decorated, everyone followed suit.

The tree was a live evergreen. It wasn’t decorated in November but in the beginning, it was a short tree, set upon a table, and decorated on Christmas Eve. Its ornaments were the gifts for the children, hung from the branches, not wrapped. The lights were candles in weighted holders that clamped on the edge of the limbs. They were lit before the children arrived. After the awe of the little ones, the candles were snuffed. A bucket of sand sat nearby in case of a fire.  Today we have multi-colored, blinking, odd shaped LED lights but I personally would love to see a candlelit tree – just for the novelty & experience of old but doubt I’ll ever get to see that. <sigh> Today’s large trees, both the real and fake, started in the late 19th century, when Americans took this idea of the tree and expanded, demanding they be the large floor-to-ceiling trees.

Some of the interesting gifts of the period ranged from fancy sugar cubes (processed white sugar cubes were luxury goods few could afford) or French-milled soap (very expensive, fine and scented cakes) for the ladies. Oranges were also a fancy and expensive gift due the source (i.e.: Florida) and healthy, primarily used to ward off scurvy not the cold. As a child, I grew up with oranges scattered under the tree – a family tradition from days of old. Plus it took prodding that my birthday was middle of the month (December) for me to get my mother to put up the tree for it, unlike her desire to put it up on the 22nd or so. It always came down on the 26th. Her practice comes from her family practices of years ago.

What old-fashioned traditions do you maintain, despite today’s over-commercialization? Or is your tree already up?

16 thoughts on “The Holidays are here! Is your Christmas tree up?

  1. This year Chanukah which I celebrate is crazy early the first night is Thanksgivig. But the tradition is to have potato pancakes which I love. So let’s hear it for fried potato pancakes with apple sauce!!

  2. I honestly don’t know what traditions in my family have been past down but I am completely guilty of getting excited for Christmas as soon as November hits. I just love the smells and the sights…it’s such a cozy time. I will say a family favorite we’ve done is fruit cake with lots of rum and an old-fashioned trifle

    • Yes my mother got the most delightful fruit cake from Texas. Love it! Very very condensed but good! Because of it being yummy, I never understood the dislike for fruit cake.

  3. Growing up, our tradition was to cook all day, have a late lunch, then open presents. After that we cleaned up, played, and just had leftovers for dinner because we were all too tired to do anything else 🙂
    Oh, and the tree didn’t go up until after Thanksgiving, but had to be down before New Years Eve.

  4. We always did have two trees. A live one for us to decorate, children’s ornaments and less breakable. Then a fake one in the living room which was set by the front window so it could be seen from the street. That was the show tree with all the classic ornaments. My grandmother had a table top tree and we always spent Christmas Eve at her house with the traditional Sauerkraut Soup.

  5. When I was growing up the tree was decorated two weeks before Christmas. In Germany, where I lived for many years, the trees went up in homes on Christmas Eve, and came down on Jan 6th. Three Kings Day. I loved the Christmas markets which began on Advent and stopped on the 23d. Christmas in Europe is much less commercial than it is in the states, probably because Santa doesn’t really bring presents. That is celebrated on December 6th when the Christ Child gives gifts to children who leave their shoes out side their door. Tweeted and shared on FB.

  6. I’ll start “decorating” after Remembrance day – Nov 11 – I’ll put the lights up outside on a nice day – so that could easily take until Dec before it’s a warm enough – not raining – not snowing day. The indoor decorating gos in spurts – every single room gets some sort of decoration. I’ve kinda gone crazy over the years, but the family loves it. I’ve decided no gingerbread houses this year – just not in the mood.

    • I haven’t put lights up in years! Big hassle here. But I know some people who just leave them up year round (just don’t turn them on). LOL Thanx!

  7. Great post, Gina! My mother loves Christmas. Traditionally, our tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving (and the eggnog comes out for the celebration) and stays up until after 12th Night–January 6. That’s when the Wise Men came to Bethlehem.

  8. My tree is not up, and it runs a 50/50 chance of being up at all. And I get so discouraged with I go to stores and see the holiday stuff out already. Costco had stuff out already in September. Come on!

    • Yeah, unfortunately (or fortunately) I haven’t put up a tree in a couple of years – with 3 dogs & 3 cats & me at work, not doable. Last time, I had to cover it in sheets & put childgates around it to prevent damage. Way to much work! We celebrate at my sisters anyway. Thank you 🙂

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