Holiday Traditions!


Shyan Dunlap, Author

One thing we all know about the holiday season is that there are about a billion different traditions. Different religions have different traditions. Various places around the world have various traditions. Even your neighbor might have a crazy family tradition that you’ve never heard of before. I´m not even kidding; there are so many traditions. A tradition is something that is handed down; take this loosely though. Traditions can be handed down by word or by object. Every holiday has its traditions, but Christmas seems to have more than any of the others, even though any holiday is basically just a giant tradition.

One tradition I personally want to understand is why we leave cookies and milk out for Santa? Like, the guy is fat enough. When I asked my dad why he thought this tradition came around his response was, “The parent was hungry and wanted some cookies and milk.” Is my father right, or is there a deeper meaning to this cookies and milk thing? Most of my research tells me that the cookies and milk were an offering. I was unable to find one set reason, but there are many theories as to what the explanation may be. One of my favorites was a German tradition in which wafer cookies were used as decorations on the tree and it was said Santa would snack on the Christmas decorations. How odd.

This one is not for the faint of heart, I must warn but… What is the deal with this Santa dude, and why does he just pop into our house every year, and where’d he come from? Well, I think I can answer that. Santa, also known as St. Nick, was a monk from Myra who inherited wealth and used the money to travel the countryside and help the poor. Because of this, he became the main character of folk stories in the third century. In time he rose to popularity, and his wonder hit the United States in the eighteenth century.

What about Christmas trees? If a dog can’t bring a stick inside, why can we bring whole trees into our houses? Thank the Romans, Egyptians, Druids, Germans, and get this, even Vikings had Christmas trees. Everyone put up a Christmas tree to honor their gods, but it was Christian Germans that are credited for the first actual Christmas tree. At first, not everyone jumped on the Christmas tree bandwagon, but after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were sketched in the London newspaper with a Christmas tree, it spread like wildfire all around the world. It wasn’t until the 1890’s that the tree really rose in popularity.