Why Do We Visit Santa?

Santa chair

A Guide to Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas traditions are a funny concept. We are taught from the moment that we celebrate our first holiday season to participate in countless amusing, yet outlandish customs. Even odder is the fact that it rarely  dawns on us to question our participation. Speaking for myself, I never second guessed sitting on Santa’s lap and sharing my cherished wish list or posing for a photo with the elves in a Santa chair. It’s inevitable that country to country holiday customs differ drastically, however one thing is for certain: The origins of these traditions can get lost in translation.

America and Sitting on Santa’s Knee

When asked about the holiday season in America a list of immediately forms in my head:

  • Red and Green
  • Baking cookies
  • Gingerbread houses
  • Visiting Santa

However, by far the most notable holiday tradition in America is the annual trip that kids take to visit their local Santa, climb into the Santa chair, and confide in him their prized wish lists.

The story of Santa Claus was derived, centuries ago, from a monk who’s name was St. Nicholas. This monk became known for his generosity and piety as he traveled around the world spreading not only wealth and love, but also the name St. Nicholas. It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that the story of St. Nicholas began spreading in American culture. In 1809, Washington Irving referenced the then Sinter Klaas (Dutch origin) in one of his books as the “Patron Saint of New York.” Soon after, the  popularity of St. Nicholas skyrocketed and by the late 1840s kids were asking to visit Santa during Christmas. In 1924, the Santa craze had hit peak popularity as people would gather from everywhere to meet the Macy’s Day Parade Santa.

Germany and Christmas Trees

The Christmas tree is one of the most widely recognizable holiday emblems. Annually, families gather evergreens to house their gifts for one another. The decorating of the tree for many families is highly anticipated and we have Germany to thank for this tradition.

Decorating evergreen trees originated in Strasburg, Germany during the 17th century. The custom of decorating trees was a German tradition used to celebrate the winter solstice for decades prior to the concept of the Christmas tree. In the late 1800’s the Christmas tree came into popularity and could now be seen all over Germany. The Christmas tree was embedded in English and American holiday tradition by the 19th century.
yule log

Norway and the Yule Log

The Yule Log is a tradition which originated in Norway. First used to signify the returning of the sun after the winter solstice. The term “Yule” was derived from the Norse word “Hweol” meaning wheel. They viewed the sun as a wheel which circulated the Earth. Today, the burning of the Yule log embodies the Christmas spirit for families around the world. The Yule log feeds many fireplaces for the twelve days of Christmas to bring good luck for the year to come.

Carolers in the Snow
Carolers in the Snow

England and Christmas Carols

Carolers are a sign of joy and light in countless cultures during the holidays. Once called “Waits” because they only sang on Christmas Eve, carolers go from house to house singing Christmas songs to their neighbors in a hope to circulate holiday cheer. This form of celebration originated in England.

Millenniums ago, carols were used in Europe to celebrate the Winter solstice.  The earliest carol was written in 1410 and titled, “I Saw Three Ships.” Briefly once the Puritans came into power in England, Christmas caroling was ordered to stop. This made the trend grow in popularity as people retaliated by singing them in secret. During the Victorian Period, caroling was once again accepted and used to signify the beginning of the Christmas celebrations in England.

 

How Did the Snowman Connect to Christmas?

outdoor snowmen

Both the “Christmas” tree and sometimes life size snowmen originated in pagan cultures.  Snowman documentation dates as far back as the Middle Ages.  Before that, we can only assume that in the dark times of winter, humans were creating art with anything available, including snow.  According to Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman, the snowman’s earliest known representation is in the 1380 Book of Hours in the Koninkijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, Netherlands.

Connection to Christmas is coming.

History of Snowmen
Snowman with charred backside in Book of Hours

In 1845, Mary Dillwyn took the first photograph of a snowman, shortly after Francis Ronalds invented the first successful device for continuous recording, otherwise known as a camera.  Not that Frosty is aware that he’s the subject of one of the first photographs ever taken.  For decades after that, variations of snowmen materialized in books, magazines, songs and films.

Connection to Christmas is coming.

the first snowman
Mary Dillwyn/National Museum of Wales

 

Snowman Suffers Unrequited Love

Hans Christian Andersen wrote a fairy tale about an outdoor snowman,  who wishes he could be indoors as he’s fallen in love with a stove.  It isn’t difficult to see the irony in that love story, which begins with a snowman standing in the garden of a manor house watching the sun set and the moon rise. His sole companion is a watchdog who lives in a doghouse nearby.

life size snowmen
A snowman receives romantic advice from dog in Hans Christian Andersen’s “Stories for the Household” (1880s) – Internet Archive Book Images

The dog reminisces about happier days when he slept under the stove inside the house. The snowman can see the stove through a window and believes it is female.  He pines for her and longs to be in the room with the stove, but the dog warns him he would melt.  There’s much more to the story if you care to read it.  

Connection to Christmas is coming.

life size snowman
North Wind Picture Archives

Don’t Count on Snowmen to Protect You

Snowmen, unbeknownst to them, played a part in one of the bloodiest events in early American history; the Schenectady Massacre of 1690. At the time, Fort Schenectady was a remote Dutch settlement under constant threat of attack.  A blizzard descended on the fort, and the gates were frozen open.  The freezing soldiers left a pair of snowmen as substitute “guards” to protect the fort when they left for shelter.  They were not aware of a looming threat.  A contingent of French-Canadian soldiers and Native Americans attacked and, unfazed by the stoic but inefficient snowmen, killed 60 inhabitants. This was well before the modern day Frosty, who we all know can come to life.  Connection to Christmas is coming.

Snowwomen Rise Up

Residents of Bethel, Maine celebrated feminism on a much grander scale than did the Dutch in the snow representation of their queen.  Ignoring the traditional genderless snowman, they constructing Olympia, who stood 122 feet tall and much larger than the average outside snowman .  Olympia was considered the world’s largest snowperson, until Austria won the title in 2008.  Bethel’s amazing snowwoman had eyelashes made of skis, lips made of car tires, a 100-foot-long scarf, and a six-foot-long snowflake pendant. Imagine if she came to life!

Connection to Christmas is here.

snowman
Dutch Queen Wilhelmina and Princess Juliana as snowwomen in the Netherlands (1939) – Creation of the Snowman

Snowwomen Rise Up

Residents of Bethel, Maine celebrated feminism on a much grander scale than did the Dutch in the snow representation of their queen.  Ignoring the traditional genderless snowman, they constructing Olympia, who stood 122 feet tall and much larger than the average outside snowman .  Olympia was considered the world’s largest snowperson, until Austria won the title in 2008.  Bethel’s amazing snowwoman had eyelashes made of skis, lips made of car tires, a 100-foot-long scarf, and a six-foot-long snowflake pendant. Imagine if she came to life!  Connection to Christmas is here.

the worlds tallest snowman
The Worlds Tallest Snowman

It’s Here! Snowmen and Christmas

The recognizable version of a snowman, three balls of snow stacked upon each other, with stovepipe hat, a button nose and two eyes made out of coal, came to life in the Christmas Season during the Victorian era.  Prince Albert, not the kind in a can, incorporated some of Eastern Europe’s traditions into England’s.  Santa Claus and the snowman became omnipresent icons for Boxing Day and the holiday season.

Now, in the yards of homes all over the world, life size snowmen are included in Christmas decorations.  Snowmen are also found on Christmas cards and some people collect them to use as interior holiday decoration.  There are also notable snowmen like Olaf and the Abominable Snowman, but there’s one that was made famous in both song and film – Frosty the Snowman.

Christmas decoration snowman

The Christmas animated television special about Frosty the Snowman debuted in 1969. Narrated by Jimmy Durante, the film involves a magic hat that transforms Frosty the Snowman into a living being. Without ruining the whole plot, eventually Frosty and the town children wind up at the North Pole.  When Frosty eventually melts, Santa Claus explains that Frosty is made out of special Christmas snow. Frosty then comes back to life and everyone has a Merry Christmas.

The television special is based on the song, Frosty the Snowman, written in 1950 by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. They wrote it for Gene Autry, after Autry had such a huge hit with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the previous year.  However, unlike Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman is not necessarily a Christmas song. Nothing about Christmas is mentioned in the song’s lyrics at all. It’s just a generic wintertime song.

It was when Frosty producers decided to make the song into a Christmas special that Christmas came into the story, by changing the final line of the song.  The original song ends with, “But he waved goodbye, saying, don’t you cry. I’ll be back again someday,” as evidenced here.  On the television special, the last line is, “But he waved goodbye, saying, don’t you cry. I’ll be back on Christmas day.”  Adding a bit more marketing magic to Christmas.

2020 Holiday Season Trends


It’s hard enough to keep track of your own world during the holidays without trying to figure out what’s new and trendy. But Christmas Night Inc. has done it for you! We have our finger on the pulse of the holidays every year, and our guide to the holiday season trends of 2018 will help you have a more rewarding, less stressful December. While you can’t go wrong with tradition, our tips and advice below can put you at the forefront of the season.

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Evolution of the Beloved Nutcracker

Giant Nutcracker

The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale….”
Vera Nazarian

Primitive nutcrackers were nothing like the nutcrackers that we know of today. To understand the significance of the nutcracker, we need to go back in time to a point when malevolent spirits held a place in everyday life. In these early times, typically referred to medieval times, nutcrackers were used to ward off spirits, bring luck and crack nuts.

The Nutcracker as an Everyday Tool
Typically, nutcrackers were of simpler but creative design. During medieval times, the nutcracker was an everyday tool. And nuts were a staple in everyday life. Medieval nutcrackers were whittled from wood and were skillfully designed by the whittler.

Some nutcrackers appeared with human or elfish heads, animals and other objects. But typically, the nutcracker had two handles which clasped together, and at the end was a cracking mechanism. The nutcracker was more geared toward function but also had ornate design. Nutcrackers weren’t considered decoration in these times, but simply a tool. Once, harder metals were introduced, nutcrackers were also ornately fashioned from metal, but were not as affordable to the lower classes.

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Announcing Dog-Statues.com by Christmas Night Inc.

Christmas Night is proud to introduce our new website, www.dog-statues.com. Just as Christmas Night is your ultimate source for outdoor Christmas decorations , dog-statues.com will try to be your ultimate source for all kinds of statues of your family pet, working companion or animal best friend.

Our dog statues represent the very best versions of dog figures made of resin, fine stone , ceramic, structured plush, metal and plush. These dog figures are skillfully, carved, constructed or assembled and colored in factories and workshops in the US, Italy and the Philippines.

Some of our dog statues are made to order and shipped in 4 to 6 weeks from our US factories. Many statues are carried in stock in our and our suppliers warehouse for immediate shipment by Fed EX Ground or LTL truck.

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