Monday, November 28, 2016



   The upside down Christmas tree is one of the strangest trends seen in a while.  There are some people who probably like the idea.  An upside down Christmas tree is just a matter of personal preference, some people love the newest trends while others prefer traditional decor.  How long will the upside down Christmas tree be popular?  Only the consumer knows for sure, after all, we do determine such trends.  If people stay fascinated with the upside down Christmas tree, then it will become a mainstay.  If the upside down Christmas tree is ignored by consumers because it is just too bizarre,  then it will go away just like any fad.  I am a traditionalist myself.


   Every retailer that is selling the upside down Christmas tree is quick to point out that the tradition came from the 12th Century in Central Europe.  They would hang the Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling instead of right side up.  The meaning behind using an evergreen tree was the triangular shape symbolizing the Father, Son and The Holy Spirit.  No matter which way the tree is placed, a triangle is a triangle.  The tree can lay on the floor if someone prefers, it's still a triangle.  You can't blame the retailer for going with the current trends if it  makes them a little extra money and makes someone else happy to have found it.


   Some people believe the reason behind the upside down Christmas tree is possibly sinister, and the only explanation for its resurgence must be an evil one.  Placing a Christmas tree in the upright positions points toward the heavens, so if the Christmas tree is upside down, the tree top is obviously pointing in the opposite direction.  Why would anyone purchase an upside down Christmas in the direction of perdition?  I just think it will be something trendy or chic, for people who want to be different. There is nothing wrong with being different and not conforming to everyone elses picture of a Christmas tree.

    Retailers who are selling the upside down Christmas trees state the benefits of placing a tree this way as:  It's simple, with the wide part of the triangle up in the air, it makes more room available for presents, and it also let's those prized ornaments and other decorations hang out instead of into the tree.  The artificial upside down Christmas tree is more expensive.  A decent one goes for anywhere between 350 dollars and all of the way up to over 600 dollars for an averages sized 7 1/2  foot tree.


   Retailers are also proclaiming the space saving commodities of the upside down Christmas tree.  If you're worried about room just get a slim tree.  I can also see the good points to someone who collects ornaments as a hobby, it lets them hang down better, because of the triangular shape of the upside down Christmas tree getting smaller as you go down the tree.  This would be very good for showing off that prized  collection you couldn't hang before.  Whichever direction your Christmas tree is pointing, it's all about the spirit and the enjoyment of the holiday season,  everyone makes his or her own choices and preferences whether other people like them or not.  Like I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with doing something different, maybe it will become a new tradition in your family for many Christmas's to come.



   Peek among the branches of the family Christmas tree in many homes, and you may spot a glistening green glass pickle ornament or 2.  Do you find yourself in a pickle, trying to figure out why this pickled cucumber ornament is a symbol for Christmas?

Why do many families traditionally hang pickles on their Christmas trees?

   The Christmas pickle ornament tradition apparently began centuries ago in Germany.  As a family gathered to decorate the Christmas tree together on Christmas Eve, a blown glass pickle would be among the holiday ornaments.  Once the Christmas tree was fully trimmed, one of the parents would secretly hide a glass pickle ornament among the branches.
   On Christmas morning, the first child in the family to find the Christmas pickle, tucked inside the branches of the Christmas tree, would be considered especially lucky.  Often, the Christmas pickle finding child would receive an extra special holiday gift from Santa (also known as St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaus, Father Christmas or even Kris Kringle), and the parents would usually pronounce a blessing upon that youngster for the coming year.
   Over the years, glass Christmas pickle ornaments have become popular holiday gifts, and families of many nationalities and backgrounds now hang bright green glass pickles among the branches of their Christmas trees.

Vintage Christmas Pickles


Do other Christmas pickle legends exist?

   American Civil War history buffs may tell the Christmas pickle story somewhat differently.  A popular tale recounts how a Civil War soldier was captured and sentenced to capital punishment.  However, before the soldier died, he pleaded with his guard to stave off his hunger by sharing a pickle with him. 
   The soldier did share, reflecting the Christmas spirit of kindness and generosity.
   Another Christmas pickle story dates back to medieval times, recounting the capture of two young Spanish schoolboys.  Traveling home for Christmas, the lads were captured by a wicked tavern owner, who locked them inside a giant pickle barrel.  In the night, Saint Nicholas freed the boys from the briny barrel.
   A final explanation is often mentioned for the Christmas pickle tradition.  This story points to the poverty many families experienced during the second Word War.  Perhaps some families could not afford to make or purchase decorations for their Christmas trees and used what they already had on hand, such as green pickles.
  Of course, the Christmas pickle tradition contains some inaccuracies, as may the folklore attached to the briny baubles.  For example, according to German Christmas traditions, St. Nicholas arrives on the Night of St. Nicholas (December 5th), rather than Christmas Eve.
   Still, regardless of lore or legend, the Christmas pickle tradition continues, and glass Christmas pickles may be found among many modern families' Christmas tree ornament collections.



   Plum pudding or Christmas pudding, as it is more popularly known, has its origins in England.  It is often served about Christmas time, or usually around Advent time.  It has been a family tradition in many homes to have a "stir up Sunday", when each child is allowed to stir the pudding and make a wish.
What is Plum Pudding?

   It's almost black color comes from the heavy dried fruits that are used to make it.  Traditionally, plum puddings are boiled or steamed using a pudding cloth and would sometimes have charms mixed inside them.  The charms may either be a silver coin, a silver thimble, anchor or ring which all stand for good things in life such as good luck, wealth, a happy marriage and a safe trip.
   A plum pudding does not really have plums in it, but it is full of dried fruits and nuts,mixed with beef suet and citrus fruit juices or alcohol such as beer, rum or brandy.  It is often dried out before it is served, as the longer it is allowed to dry, the stronger the flavor becomes.  When it is ready to be served, it is steamed and some more alcohol or juice is spread on it to bring out a strong aroma.  it may be served with a sprig of holly on top, some custard or cream, and is often decorated with caster sugar on top that somewhat resembles snow flakes.
   Historically speaking, plum puddings probably originated in England during the Victorian period, around 1420.  It was first prepared and served not as a dessert, but as a way to preserve meats and make them last all throughout periods when meats are not readily available.   The various dried fruits were used as preservatives.  During the reign of Elizabeth I, prunes were used and the name "plum pudding" evolved.
   It was only during the mid 1800's that the dish became more popular as a food often served during the Christmas season.  These days, ready made puddings are available in stores, specialty shops and supermarkets.  Although home made plum puddings are still preferred as perfect gifts for relatives and friends during the Christmas season, ready made cooked puddings are just as good, without going through many hours of preparation.



   The sound of happiness, sincere appreciation and the presence of family make the Christmas holiday one of the most festive occasions of the year.  Such festivities were also present during medieval times.  The spirit of the holiday was the closeness of family, serfs, lords and their workers and the communal sharing and preparing of the holiday meal.
   The celebration of Christmas and the concept of Christ's birthday goes back much farther than the 19th century.  Originally a pagan festival celebrated during the Mid-Winter Solstice, Christmas, was eventually adopted by the Christians, thus being passed on through the generations.  In Medieval times a 12 day festival, held from December 25th to January 6th, opened the New Year with all of the contemporary fixings such as plays, processions, and the spreading of good cheer.  The actual gift giving took place on January 6th with the honoring of St. Nicholas, patron son of saints.


   The Druids and the Vikings used the Yule log during the 12 day feast to represent the coming of the New Year.  After it was blessed, it was burned for the entire celebration.  However, before being burned it was carved in the sins of the past year.  Burning it symbolically cleansed the people and brought about good fortune.
   The sending of Christmas cards, carol singing, decorating houses and trees, and the lighting of candles are all symbols of an ancient tradition.  The tradition was full of merriment and feasting and represented little of what it has become today.


   The Christmas tree is a very ancient tradition with origins in the ancient Germanic history of Europe.  Germanic tribes celebrated Lichfest and Tannenbaum on December 21st, the shortest day of the year.  Tannenbaum represented the festival of lighting the trees and Lichfest was celebrated as the festival of light.
   The Christmas tree did not become popular in the western world until the 18th and 19th centuries.  The tradition of holiday caroling also has its roots in medieval history.  Caroling was initially a pagan custom looked down upon by the church.  It wasn't until 1223 that St. Francis of Assisi introduced the singing of carols into the formal worship of the church.  In medieval tradition, wandering minstrels and waits that guarded the old walled cities would pass their time by going from home to home singing carols, In return, they received food and drink.

medieval carols

medieval carols


   The Epiphany, which marked the visit of the Magi to the Christ child and the bestowing of gifts upon him is where we get our physical gift giving tradition from.  Although the gifts were bestowed at birth, history dictates that it is much more likely that the holiday was celebrated at the baptism of Christ.  The holiday season was not always representative of the stress of gift buying and family hopping.  In medieval times the gifts were simple and families were all gathered in one central location.  The season was about prosperity and change for the better in the coming year.  In many ways, cultural marketing of this season, along with many others has served to dull the meaning of the season.

Medieval Nativity form the 1400's


   "Let those who have no light in themselves light candles! Let those over whom hell fire is hanging, fix to their doors laurels doomed presently to burn.  You are the light of the world, you are the tree evergreen...make not your own house a temple".  The Great Roman Tertullian.
   Hanging a Christmas stocking is a tradition that has been followed since times immemorial.  This tradition has an interesting history behind it.  Though there are no written records of the origin of Christmas stocking, there are quite some popular stories that have passed through generations till date.  Though there have been some modifications in many such stories, one of the most popular legend that talks about the history of Christmas is given in the following lines.

Medieval Santa

   Many centuries back, there lived a poor man in a village who had three beautiful daughters.  His wife had passed away due to some illness and he had spent all his money to cure his wife.  Thus, he was left with no money to get his daughters married.  The three daughter were very kind and strong and this is what worried their father even more.  He was concerned what would happen to them after his death.
   It so happened that once, St. Nicholas was passing through the village when he over heard the discussion of some villagers who were talking about the pitiable condition of the three girls.  St. Nicholas wanted to help the poor father but he knew that the old man won't accept money just like that.  He decided to help in a secret way.  He waited till it was night and stealthily came into their house through the chimney.  He had three bags of gold coins with him, one for each girl.  As he was looking for a place to keep those three bags, he noticed the stockings of the three girls that were hung over the mantelpiece for drying.  He put each bag in each stocking and then went away.  When the girls and their father woke up the next morning, they were thrilled to find the bags of gold coins.  He happily married off his daughters one after the other and they also remained happy for the rest of their lives.  The word about St. Nicholas being so generous spread throughout the village and then all over the land.  Since then, it has been a tradition to hang a stocking on Christmas in the hope that St. Nicholas would bring a present.