“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”
~ Burton Hillis
Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated festivals globally and is no longer viewed as a purely religious holy day. It is now a time enjoyed by people of many countries and faiths, and there are numerous universally recognized icons which we associate with the yuletide. In fact, these symbols have become so commonly associated with the celebration of Christmas that when we see Santa riding on a reindeer, a mantle hung with stockings, coniferous green trees decorated with tinsel and ornaments, or houses festooned with evergreen wreaths and mistletoe, we know that the magic spirit of the season is upon us.
The tradition of the Christmas stocking dates back to approximately 250B.C. in Asia Minor. There Nicholas, rich man who became a very generous Christian priest and a saint, is said to have secretly filled the stockings of three poor sisters with gold, thus giving them a dowry and allowing them to marry. Legend has it that after that “miracle,” neighbors of the fortunate women followed suit with their stockings, and the tradition slowly spread across the globe. Children throughout the world now hang stockings–or even put out shoes–to be filled with small gifts and food by Santa (Saint) Claus (Nicholas). Many people create their own stockings, personalizing them for themselves or for others and often providing a family activity that is fun for all. Find instructions for making your own Christmas fireplace stockings.
Along with the Christmas holly, laurel, rosemary, yews, boxwood bushes, and, of course the Christmas tree, mistletoe is an evergreen displayed during the Christmas season and symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation that will occur in spring. But perhaps more than any other of the Christmas evergreens, it is a plant of which we are conscious only during the holidays. One day we’re kissing under the mistletoe, and next day we’ve forgotten all about it (the plant, that is, not the kisses).