Christmas Holidays

Holiday #9 A Sweet Tree-t!

Oh Christmas Tree…

The festivities of the Christmas holiday season vary dramatically across the continents of the world, but the same general idea of celebrating the ones we love and fostering a spirit of generosity are consistent across the entire world and are shared by people of all faiths.

The decorations for Christmas around the world vary greatly depending on where you are. Many cultures from the United States all the way to Australia decorate their home with Christmas trees.  These trees are pine or evergreen trees and can be real or fake.  We have done fake for the past few years for many reasons (namely our cat).  We incorporate the fresh pine via fresh wreaths and garland!

In countries like France, Germany, Australia, the United States, Canada, England, Sweden, and Spain the trees are decorated with glass ornaments, tinsel, twinkling lights and either stars or angels on top.

In countries that are farther east such as China, Japan and Vietnam, the decorations on trees are usually paper lanterns, ribbons and bows.

The Christmas tree has really spread in popularity and during the Christmas season you can usually find one in nearly every country in the world!

This year I thought we could pick a fun theme for our family Christmas Tree… something festive, religious, a bit fun….”Candy Canes” screamed the kids!

Swirls, treats, pops and more….this was just too much fun to shop for!

People have been enjoying candy canes as far back as the 17th century. Originally, they weren’t “canes” at all and weren’t associated with Christianity or the holidays, but today they have strong symbolism for many people.

In their original form, candy canes were simple white sugar sticks made by hand by local confectioners and enjoyed by people throughout Europe. The “J” shape associated with candy canes wasn’t adoped until the late 16o0’s.

Legend has it that the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany bent some straight sticks into canes to represent a sheperd’s crook and gave them to children to keep them busy and quiet during church services, thus providing the first Christian symbolism associated with the popular treat.

The trademark red and white stripes and peppermint flavor weren’t added until many years later, and there is no historic documentation to explain why candy canes suddenly started sporting color and a new spice. The stripes and spice both started appearing in the 20th century. A popular Internet email credits the invention of the candy cane to a candymaker in Indiana, although the treat was invented long before Indiana even existed, so it’s unknown whether there was such a person who deliberately added the stripes and flavor to symbolize Christ’s suffering and the spices brought by the wise men. But somehow the appearance and flavor of candy canes changed in the early 20th century and have stayed that way since.

Today many people look at candy canes as a Christian symbol of the holidays and a remembrance of why we celebrate Christmas. The following book and candy cane poems explain more about the Christian candy cane legend.

We will keep our theme all through the month of December and as we prepare for Christmas Day, we will capture the magic of Christmas morning by creating a fun trail for kids to follow when they fist wake up. Purchase a box of wrapped candy canes and lay them on the floor guiding them through the house. Leave a note at their doorway directing them to follow the candy can trail to “present pit stops” that have one present for them to open at each. Each “present pit stop” has a small note that Santa has left them with one nice thing that he saw them do that year. Notes can include things like. “You always know how to look on the bright side, keep up the good work” or “You are always the first to volunteer to help and that is a wonderful way to show you care for others.” This fun new tradition in your home will be adored by children for years to come!