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Celebrating the Holiday Season

  • Celebrating the Holiday Season

It's the Season to Celebrate 

The air is crisp, the leaves have fallen, and the colors of the landscape have changed.  It is the holiday season in the North Carolina Mountains and around the world. 

For many it is a tradition to have a live tree.  There are a variety of evergreens to choose from, but the most desired in the United States is the Fraser fir tree. 

The Fraser fir is known to grow in cold climates and flourishes best in the southern Appalachian Mountains.  The Fraser fir thrives in southwestern Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and northwestern North Carolina.   Ashe County, North Carolina is the leading producer of the Fraser fir Christmas tree, adding millions of dollars to the local economy each season. 

A Tree is Symbolic to the Holiday Season.

A holiday tree is an excellent way to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah, as well as other festivals such as Eid. 

The holiday is the season of giving, the season of caring, the season of giving gifts and celebrated in many cultures around the globe.   The live tree is also known as the tree of life, the tree of immortality, the tree of joy, and the tree of fertility.  It stands for a holy event of a special time of the year for many cultures. The holiday is a time for family, friends, and being together.

 In Europe, the United States and other countries, there are many ways to celebrate Christmas from singing carols to celebrating with large feasts.

Evergreen Trees are Associated with Christmas. 

They are part of the decorations, and they also carry religious significance.  What do we know about this tradition?  Why do we have a Christmas tree?

The first use of the Christmas tree is believed to have been in Germany.  However, it is not clear where this German tradition originated.  One theory is that it was a tree used by the pagans as a symbol for life during winter.  Another theory suggests it was used by early Christians to symbolize Christ's Second Coming.

In France, people have been celebrating Christmas since the 10th century.  Christians would cease work on December 24th and go to church.  Afterwards they would go home and decorate trees with apples or other fruits to show hospitality to hermits who may have been traveling in search of shelter during the winter season.  The next day was when children would play games to find out which hermit would visit their house on Christmas eve and bring presents for them and their families.  And at the end of the day, the children would leave their shoes outside their house overnight for Father Christmas to fill.  The French continue this tradition today when families come together at home.  Some regions have special traditions for December 25th too. 

Christmas Eve is traditionally the day when people in some countries like France, Belgium, Sweden, and Norway open one gift on Christmas Eve.  In others like Italy and Germany (although not everyone there celebrates on December 24th), people celebrate with an evening meal or dinner party before opening gifts on Christmas Day.  Traditions vary at the meal too; sometimes it is a traditional Italian dish like torta di nonna or pandoro, while in Sweden it might be pickled herring or ham with lingonberries.  In the United States, each region has a favorite, preferences include baked ham, turkey, select beef cuts, such as standing rib-roasts, and a variety of seafood in the coastal areas. 

Christmas Eve is the most important night of the year in Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Finland.  It marks the beginning of Joulupukki (Father Christmas), who comes to children’s homes to deliver presents.  In Denmark and Norway, he is julemanden (Santa Claus) and in Switzerland, he is der Nikolaus (Saint Nicholas).  Children traditionally put their shoes by the fireplace or window ledge on Christmas Eve morning for Santa Claus to fill with chocolate and small presents.

In other European countries, such as Germany and Poland, families will also put a small Christmas tree inside their homes decorated with sweets and fruits as a symbol of welcome visitors.

This is only a small example of Christmas and the Holidays celebrated in other cultures

Whatever your tradition for the season, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a Happy and Peaceful New Year!

 

 

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