Origins of Christmas traditions: gingerbread, nutcrackers, and spirit

Modern Christmas traditions originate from all around the world / Contributed Photo

Dashing through the store, on a last-minute gift run, dodging all the crowds, while trying to have fun. Chaos will ensue, over who gets the last toy, can you feel the Christmas spirit? Can you feel the joy? This sounds like Christmas in America along with ugly sweaters and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
while a fire crackles in the background. The stereotypical American Christmas has much of its roots in other cultures mostly from Europe.

Some of the most iconic parts of modern-day Christmas traditions originate from Germany including Christmas trees. Christmas trees have their roots from the belief that plants that remained green all year were good luck and reminded people of spring. Before full-sized trees, people would also hang evergreen boughs to keep evil spirits away.

Another tasty treat originating from Germany is the gingerbread house. It is believed that its creation was possibly derived from the Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel.

During the holiday season, these little wooden soldiers stand guard. Although originally from Germany, Nutcrackers were popularized by the Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky in his ballet The Nutcracker. Although this ballet was originally not a success it gained popularity in the 1960s. Ever since nutcracker soldiers have been a part of the Christmas we know.

Along with cookies and eggnog, the yule log is among the list of Christmas treats. Before it was a cake, in parts of Scandinavia, the yule log was a whole tree that was selected then shoved base first into the fireplace. The tradition spread around Europe and changed to a single log. The yule log cake is from France and is called a bûche de Noël, or in English, a yule log. The cake gained popularity in the 19th century and spread throughout French colonies and parts of Europe.

The Christmas we know today is a mix of many different cultures and traditions. Many of these traditions have themes of family and togetherness. Many of us also have family traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. This holiday season look out for the traditions you celebrate.