All I Want For Christmas Is Memories!
Today, is the first of December, and I wanted to celebrate the start of advent with you by sharing a post entitled All I Want For Christmas Is Memories. Intrigued? Then please continue reading!
What does Christmas mean to you?
I don’t think it really matters where you are in the World, or what faith, as many people now celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts with loved ones. It is a time when families get together, put disagreements aside (hopefully!), for one day and focus on one another and spread some ‘Good Will’ to most people you come across. Even in the holiday traffic jams and travel chaos, people seems to have more patience and tolerance at this time of year!
Contrary to popular opinion amongst some children and adults, the 25th December isn’t about celebrating the birth of Father Christmas but, for Christians, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Whether or not you have faith, I think it is striking that 2000 years after His birth people are still celebrating. Or is it?
Most theologists agree that Christ wasn’t born on the 25th December, so why do we celebrate on this day? In fact, early Christians only celebrated Easter.
One of the theories is that the date was set to coincide with the Roman festival of Juliana around the time of the winter solstice (~ 21st December in the Northern Hemisphere). Or the birth of the Roman sun god, Mithra, on the 25th December.
Christianity only came permanently to the shores of the, then pagan, British Isles in the 4th-6th Centuries.
How Do You Celebrate Christmas?
Many parts of Europe, the Commonwealth, and USA have similar traditions during the festive season, but it is the country specific differences which I love hearing about.
Most of us have a gift giver who’s name differs from country to country including; St Nicholas (many parts of Europe), Kris Kringle, Father Christmas (UK), and Santa Claus (U.S and Canada). Many of these Christmas personifications appeared during mediaeval times in Europe. At this stage, Christmas was predominantly celebrated by adults. It wasn’t until Victorian times, at least in the UK, that Father Christmas appeared in the guise we now know him today and started giving gifts to children. He often wore a green cloak too!
Christmas trees were brought to the UK in the 1830s. They were popularised by Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria and born in Germany. In 1848, he had one put up and decorated in Windsor Castle. The rest is history!
The tradition of Yule trees at Christmas had been around in most of Northern Europe from the 1400s but in Germany there was a special legend to celebrate. The folklore said that the Christ Child arrived on a Forester’s door step on Christmas Eve, as a poor, cold, boy. The forester, though poor himself, took the boy in and gave Him food, shelter and a bed. On Christmas morning, the boy appeared as the Christ Child with a choir of angels. He thanked the forester for looking after Him by breaking a branch off a fir tree and bringing it in to the home for the fire.
One UK tradition that always intrigued me is ‘Boxing Day,’ the 26th December or St Stephen’s Day. The name is said to be derived from the custom of young boys collecting money in clay boxes after the Church service on the day after Christmas. Once full, the boxes were broken and the money distributed to the needy.
The arrival of the U.S gift giver, Santa Claus, (supposedly derived from the Dutch word for St Nicholas (Sinterklaas), dates back to the 17th Century. But the Santa Claus, whom lives in the North Pole, wears a red suit, and has a sleigh with reindeer, didn’t arrive in the U.S until 1863 following notable appearances in literature from the early 1800s. The UK’s Father Christmas and the U.S Santa Claus are now essentially the same person.
There are lots of lovely country specific traditions in mainland Europe but one I particularly like is the Santa Lucia ceremony, celebrated on the 13th December, in Sweden. St Lucia was a Christian virgin martyred for her beliefs in the 4th Century. The youngest female in the family dresses as Santa Lucia; usually with an evergreen crown with candles, a white robe and red sash. She then participates in a candlelit procession with other girls , whom are accompanied by ‘star boys’ in white shirts and pointed hats. It is such a simple ceremony but very poignant and beautiful on a cold, snowy, day.
What does Christmas Mean To Me?
To me, Christmas is about family memories. One of my earliest Christmas memories was as a 4-year old, just a few days before Christmas, when I was sat with my maternal grandmother watching Hansel and Gretel on the TV. I was worried that it wasn’t going to snow, and if it didn’t snow then how would Father Christmas use his sleigh? My Grandmother went over to her dresser and pulled out a small jewellery box and handed it to me.
‘Open it and make a wish’, she said.
I tentatively opened the box, it was quite big in my small hands, and inside was this wonderful Christmas tree brooch. With eyes sparking, I laid the brooch on the palm of my hand, closed my eyes and made a wish. I then put the brooch back in the box and returned it to the dresser drawer.
Within 5 minutes it started to snow! I think you can guess what I wished for and why that memory will never fade!
My Grandmother died a couple of years later, and I pleaded to be allowed to keep the brooch after fervently promising that I would always look after it. I was given the brooch and still have it to this day. I wear it at this time of the year, every year.
To me, this is what Christmas is all about. I don’t remember what my Gran gave me as a present, possibly a doll. The gift really does’t matter. What she did create was a wonderful memory of Christmas and I hope that it creates notable moments for you all too!
The Christmas Tree Brooch
As I was thinking of writing this blog a few days ago. I went and retrieved the Christmas Tree brooch from its resting place and was intrigued to know more about it.
The costume jewellery brooch measures 7cm (2.8″) x 4cm (1.6″). It was bought in the 1950s (we think!) for my Grandmother (a housekeeper for a wealthy industrialist), as a Christmas gift from Saks, 5th Avenue (see the non-returnable sticker). I wasn’t sure about the back mark impressed on the plant pot at the back of the brooch, so I turned to the Vintage and Antiques Community on Google+ for their help. It didn’t take long before several members of the community came back to me!
Originals by Robert which was part of The Fashioncraft Jewelry Co. NYC 1942 to 1979 founded by “Robert” Levy, David Jaffe and Irving Landsman.
The copyright mark makes it post 1955.
Thank you to Silver Standard Bullion , Nancy Brace, Pam WhimsicalVintage, Saras Corner, and Roma Arellano of the Vintage and Antiques Google+ Community for all their help and support in tracing the origin of the brooch.
I will never part with the brooch. It hasn’t got a massive monetary value but the sentimental value is beyond measure.
Thank you to all my readers for indulging my reminisces about Christmas. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all-
‘A Merry Christmas and a time full of happy memories.’