The Surprising Origins Of Your Favorite Christmas Traditions

The holidays bring waves of nostalgia, as many Americans partake in tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Hoards of people flood the ocean of consumer paradise, finding the perfect topper, trim, or gift that completes the holiday, as was the year before.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cheer, and never stop to think where all these beloved traditions, that you couldn’t imagine carrying on without, have come from.

From an unsuspected birth to images of candy canes dancing in your head, to singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” will equip you with enough stimulating Christmas dinner conversation, to say the least.

Decorating the Christmas tree is one of children’s favorite family activities. The ornamental tradition was not always so. It wasn’t until the 19th century that people in the U.S. first began purchasing glass ornaments.

Small Biz Trends reported:

“It was F.W. Woolworth who first brought glass ornaments from the German cottage industry to the mass market in the US. In 1880, $25 worth of hand blown glass ornaments were purchased for his variety store in Lancaster, PA – all of which sold within two days. Fast forward to ten years later and more than 200,000 glass ornaments made from more than 6,000 recorded designs, each by individual families, were being imported into the US.”

To consider the Christmas tree itself, the United States wasn’t dawned with its holiday addition until Queen Victoria, with her German ancestry, began making it a staple in the 19th century.

As with many Christmas traditions, the Germans are credited with the first decorated tree.

History Today reported:

Certainly by 1605 decorated Christmas trees had made their appearance in Southern Germany. For in that year an anonymous writer recorded how at Yuletide the inhabitants of Strasburg ‘set up fir trees in the parlours … and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil, sweets, etc.’”

 The Germans, nor Queen Victoria, would have ever expected the tree industry to boom as it has, with the National Christmas Tree Association reporting Americans will buy “approximately 40 million Christmas trees during the holiday season.”

Legend has it the candy cane was used during the Christmas season as a distraction for children, before it graced the branches of the tree. reported:

The Christmas Candy Cane originated in Germany about 250 years ago. They started as straight white sugar sticks. A story says that a choirmaster, in 1670, was worried about the children sitting quietly all through the long Christmas nativity service. So he gave them something to eat to keep them quiet.”

Mothers still use this method today with little treats as a reward for quiet behavior when needed, but the candy cane is now a treat only passed out at this time of year to enjoy while you gather around a reading of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The iconic classic Rudolph, everyone’s favorite friendly little red-nosed reindeer, was not part of Santa’s original furry clan. He debuted much later in an unsuspecting way.

Small Biz Trends reported that Rudolph was born:

at Montgomery Wards. Yes, that’s right. He’s another example of genius marketing, timed just right. Rudolph was born from a massive marketing campaign in 1939 in a book written by a company advertising copywriter by the name of Robert L. May.”

The story did much better than expected, and 2 million copies were distributed. Thus, propelling the children’s story into modern history.

It seems that Christmas tradition, in its commercialized form, is a fairly recent phenomenon in the United States.

Even with that being said, it is one of the largest consumer ventures, growing astronomically, and suspected to continue this trend.

Statista reported:

The United States’ retail industry generated over three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays in 2013. These holiday sales reflected about 19.2 percent of the retail industries total sales that year.”

With individuals having explosive influence on traditions many hold dear today, be open to making your own family traditions that generations can adapt to pass on a family favorite time.

Knowing where things we do come from, we can bring them more or less meaning, depending on our traditional focus.

From Mommy Underground, we hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and safe travels.

Please let us know if you have a family tradition that you like to do, and where it came from.

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