The singing of Christmas carols began in England in the early 1400s. They were mostly ‘tall tales’ of the first Christmas in Bethlehem. During the Puritan reign in England of the 1600s the celebration of Christmas was stopped including the singing of carols. By the early 1800s the singing of carols began again with singers known as ’Waits’, a group of town people who sang the carols only on Christmas Eve. As the carols became popular, more carols were written and performed by orchestras and choirs across England.
The ringing of Christmas bells was done in Italy, Spain and France to call the townspeople to Christmas Eve midnight mass at the Catholic Church.
The traditional candy cane began in Germany about 1750 when a choirmaster gave the young children during the Christmas nativity service a piece of candy so they would remain quiet. He made the candy in the shape of a “J” to remind them of a shepherd’s shaft or stick. The candy became very popular and by 1900 the red stripes were added to the white candy.
The traditional Christmas fruitcake started in Ireland. This special cake was made weeks before Christmas using dried fruit, nuts and spices, baked, then soaked with liquor and was topped later with icing. As the tradition spread to other lands it was given other names such as Christmas Cake in Canada.
Christmas colors of red and green go back to several different European countries; England, Germany and Netherlands when during the 1300s religious plays were performed for the public on Christmas Eve. When a play relating to the story of Adam and Eve was done, apples were attached to a pine tree to represent good and evil. Here was the contrast of red and green which eventually came to represent Christmas.
Enjoy your Christmas traditions and cherish the ancestors who started each one.