Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 26 November 2012


There are lots of Christmas traditions in the United Kingdom and in the United States!

Here are only some of them:
Robin redbreast
Christmas tree
Nativity crib
Christmas cards
Christmas stocking


Christmas Mass
Nativity plays
Carol singing
the Queen's Speech
Christmas dinner

and many-many others.

Let's learn more about them.

You can make one post, make it short but full of information: origin, meaning, observance, image.
If you can add anything of value, use commentaries and replies.
Pls, read each other, do not duplicate! 

Each post is 3 points
Each commentary is 2 points
Each reply is 1 point


  1. A Nativity play is a play, usually performed at Christmas, which recounts the story of the Nativity (birth) of Jesus.

    Many primary schools and Sunday schools in the UK put on a Nativity play. Schoolchildren in costume act as the human and angel characters, and often as the animals and props. The infant Jesus is sometimes represented by a doll, but sometimes played by a real baby. Every year parents of young children dread the note from the school to say what role their child will play. Why do the dread it? Because they have to make the costume, and it's a very competitive thing. Parents are judged on the quality of the costume, children are judged on the role they get to play and how many lines they get to speak. If you're interested I got to play the star - not one line.

    In the UK, increasing secularism and sensitivity in multicultural areas has led many schools to end the performance of Nativity plays, or significantly alter their content, causing others to complain about excessive political correctness. Another controversial topic is taking photographs or filming the play. Some schools have banned this because of fears of inappropriate use of the images. However, some canny schools then sell DVDs of the play.

  2. A nativity scene, or crèche, is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Sometimes the scene is a static, three dimensional scene, but there are so called "living nativity scenes" in which real humans and animals participate.

    A typical nativity scene consists of figures representing the infant Jesus, his mother Mary, and Mary's husband, Joseph. Some nativity scenes include other characters from the Biblical story such as the shepherds, the Magi, and angels. The figures are usually displayed in a stable, cave, or other structure.

    Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 (a "living" one) intending thereby to cultivate the worship of Christ. The scene's popularity inspired communities throughout Christendom to stage similar pantomimes and eventually to create elaborate and ever more elaborate static exhibitions with wax, wooden and even ivory and precious metal figurines garbed in rich fabrics set against intricate landscapes.

  3. Christmas Cards
    It is said that actions speaks louder than words. However, at times it is necessary to express your feelings through written or spoken words. One such occasion is Christmas time! It is the time to let your loved ones know how much you care for them and how important they are in your life. Most of the people easily express themselves in front of others. However, for those who find it difficult to do so, one of the best ideas is to make use of Christmas greeting cards. In the following lines, we have provided information about the most popular cards for Christmas holiday.

    Christmas E Cards
    The world has become quite compact with the introduction of the Internet. People from the remotest corners of the world are conversing with each other on a daily basis, with the help of e-mail, chat rooms, online forums, etc. Internet has also provided us with e-cards, the perfect medium through which we can convey our wishes to people, whether the occasion is birthday or anniversary or any festival, like Christmas.

    Funny Christmas Cards
    It is said that 'laughter is the antidote to dullness'. Nothing in this world can compare with laughter, when it comes to making people feel good. So, give people the gift of laughter on this Christmas. Make them laugh, make them forget their sorrows and they will cherish those happy moments for the rest of their life. The best way to make people laugh is by giving them funny Christmas cards.

    Handmade Christmas Cards
    Everyone loves to get cards on Christmas, be it a child or a teenager or even an aged person. Christmas cards have a certain emotional aspect attached to them, which makes us feel special. The attractiveness of the Christmas cards goes a notch further the moment we come to know that the sender of the card had made it himself. Handmade Christmas cards add a much more personal aspect to the wishes written within.

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  5. The poinsettia is a culturally and commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett,the first United States Minister to Mexico,who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825.

    In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuitlaxochitl (from cuitlatl, residue, and xochitl, flower) meaning "flower that grows in residues or soil." The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication. Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as "Noche Buena", meaning Christmas Eve.

    The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.In Spain it is known as "Flor de Pascua", meaning "Easter flower". In both Chile and Peru, the plant became known as "Crown of the Andes".

    Poinsettias are popular Christmas decorations in homes, churches, offices, and elsewhere across North America. They are available in large numbers from grocery, drug, and hardware stores. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

  6. Mistletoe is a plant that grows on willow and apple trees (and in garden centres!). The tradition of hanging it in the house goes back to the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology and that's where the custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from.

    When the first Christians came to Western Europe, some tried to ban the use of Mistletoe as a decoration in Churches, but many still continued to use it! York Minster Church in the UK used to hold a special Mistletoe Service in the winter, where wrong doers in the city of York could come and be pardoned.

    The custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from England. The original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of Mistletoe before the person could be kissed and when all the berries had gone, there could be no more kissing!

    The name mistletoe comes from two Anglo Saxon words 'Mistel' (which means dung) and 'tan' (which means) twig or stick! So you could translate Mistletoe as 'poo on a stick'!!! Not exactly romantic is it!

    1. Most people have heard of mistletoe, particularly at Christmas time. It is a plant which often grows on other trees and shrubs. The white berries are full of a sticky juice.

      There are lots of legends and traditions surrounding mistletoe, the most well known and popular being the kissing one. It was believed that kissing under the mistletoe would lead to marriage.

      In ancient times the Druids believed that mistletoe would bring good luck and health. Although it has been used to treat some ailments, the berries are in fact poisonous and should not be touched by children. Mistletoe has also been associated with fertility, a good crop being a sign that the following season's harvest would be a good one.

  7. A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs or various materials that is constructed to resemble a ring. In English-speaking countries, wreaths are used typically as household ornaments, mainly as Christmas decorations to celebrate the birth of Christ. They are also used in ceremonial events in many cultures around the globe.
    The tradition of using wreaths as Christmas decorations dates to 16th century Germany, where Lutherans created the Advent wreath. As with most Christmas decorations, the wreath was a symbol of Jesus' birth and God's grace. The evergreens used in the Advent wreath were a symbol of God's "everlasting nature" or immortality. The round shape represented eternity and green was the Church's color of hope and new life. Four candles were placed in the wreath, which was laid flat as opposed to hanging against a door or wall. The four Christmas candles represented the four weeks of Advent, which begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Each candle also represented the spiritual theme of Advent and the coming birth of Christ: hope, love, joy and peace. While Advent wreaths can still be found, they're less popular in today's more secular world. You're more likely to find a Christmas wreath gracing a front door. But for what the modern wreath loses in spiritual meaning, it makes up in style. With such a huge variety of wreaths to choose from, you're bound to find the perfect one for your home.
    While most wreaths are found hanging on the outside of the front door, wreaths can be hung throughout the house. Hang a large one above the fireplace mantel. It might even rival Christmas trees as the focal point of the room! Hang mini wreaths from door knobs. Tie lightweight wreaths to the backs of chairs. Some transport truck drivers even tie Christmas Wreaths to the front of their trucks. While this might not be the best option for your car, it demonstrates the variety of ways that Christmas wreaths can be used as a holiday decoration.

  8. Holly is known for its vibrant red color, which stands out against the starkness of winter. But did you know that it's also associated with males and is considered to bring men good luck and protection; the female counterpart to holly is ivy. A famous English Christmas carol, "The Holly and the Ivy," uses the holly symbol to celebrate the birth of Christ. One line states that "The holly bears a berry/As red as any blood/And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ/To do poor sinners good." Another line says "The Holly bears a prickle/As sharp as any thorn/And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ/On Christmas Day in the morn" [source: The Hymns and Carols of Christmas].

  9. Christmas tree -an evergreen or artificial tree decorated, as with lights and ornaments, during the Christmas season.Most houses in Britain, will have a tree of some sort or other which they will decorate and will place the presents under.The traditional Christmas tree is a fir tree but now-a-days more people buy artificial trees to 'save the earth'. The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping.
    The Christmas tree became popular in England in 1841 when Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, brought a Christmas tree over from Germany and put it in Windsor Castle. The Royal couple were illustrated in a newspaper standing around the Christmas tree with their children, and the tradition of decorating a tree became fashionable.
    Today, Christmas trees are decorated with tinsel, lights and small ornaments which hang from the branches. Chocolate coins or chocolate shapes are also hung on the Christmas tree and the presents are put under the tree.
    In London, near the statue of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, a giant Christmas tree is set up and decorated with great ceremony each year. The tree is a thank you gift from the people of Oslo, Norway. During the Second World War, King Haakon of Norway was forced into exile in England when the Germans occupied his country. Since 1947, Norway has expressed its thanks for the help of the British people by continuing to send a huge Norwegian spruce to be shared by all.

  10. About Robin Redbreast
    The European Robin is a charming bird, common throughout Europe. Its bright orange-red breast and gentle warbling song make it easily recognizable but it remains an elusive, shy bird throughout much of its range. Together, the robin's tameness, its melodic song, pugnacious behavior, and red-breasted beauty have made this perky bird a natural superstar. This little bird has starred in nursery rhymes, numerous folklore stories, and on many a Christmas card.
    The nursery rhyme, 'Little Robin Redbreast' is among the most familiar narratives featuring the robin:
    Little Robin Redbreast sat upon a tree,
    Up climbed pussycat and down went he,
    Down came pussycat, away Robin ran.
    Says little Robin Redbreast, "Catch me if you can."
    Little Robin Redbreast flew upon a wall,
    Pussycat jumped after him, and almost had a fall.
    Little Robin chirped and sang and what did pussy say?
    Pussycat said, "Mew," and Robin flew away.
    The folklore surrounding the robin is rich and in it, the rusty-chested bird is often viewed as a symbol of charity and compassion. A number of stories seek to explain the origin of the bird's red breast and pious nature. One such tale says that as Jesus was on his way to be crucified, the robin removed a thorn from his crown that was piercing his forehead. In doing so, the robin was said to be pierced in the breast, marking its feathers with its own blood (it is this tale that has earned the robin a place on the front of many Christmas cards). Another tale states that the robin's breast was singed while fanning the fire to warm baby Jesus.
    While these folklore stories remain outside the realm of science, it is clear that the European robin has captivated many a fan and will continue to do so for many years to come.

  11. The Queen's Speech is another Christmas tradition in the United Kingdom. At 3 pm on December 25, viewers around the world and especially in the British Commonwealth, listen to the Queen's speech either through television or the Internet. This speech is spoken the one time each year where the queen directly addresses the general public of Britain and the Commonwealth. The Queen usually discusses events of the past year and the hopes for the coming one. But Queen Elizabeth is the not the first British monarch to make this seasonal speech, its history and tradition go back to her grandfather. George V started the annual Christmas speech back in 1932 under the advice of Sir John Reith, the founder of the British Broadcasting Corporation. A recording studio was set up at the king's Sandringham Estate which transmited to the BBC and then through radio transmissions to Australia, Canada, Kenya, India and South Africa. The speech was first broadcast at 3pm December 25, 1932 and had been written by author and poet Rudyard Kipling. The first words spoken in the speech were "I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all". King George V delivered three Christmas speeches, his final one in 1935 being just months before his death in 1936. There was no speech in 1936, but George VI did make a broadcast in 1937 to thank the nation for their support in the first year of his reign. George VI addressed the public live each Christmas until 1950. But had to pre-record his 1951 broadcast due to ill health. He eventually passed away in February of 1952, passing the tradition on to his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Now it is 10-minute televised speech from the Queen which is kept each year.

  12. Boxing Day

    Boxing Day is another name for St. Stephen’s Day. This is 26th December, the day after our Christmas Day. It is called ‘Boxing Day’ because churches and businesses would often have a box for donations to the poor. On St. Stephen’s Day, the box was open and the money given to the poor. If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday becomes a holiday. If Christmas Day is on a Saturday, and Boxing day on a Sunday, then Monday and Tuesday become holidays.