Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Traditions: Interesting Facts

Immigrants from Germany

It is now a well-accepted fact that the tradition of using Christmas trees came to the USA through immigrants from Germany. The custom was a popular one in their native homeland. So now, in almost every home, there is at least a small, decorated tree on display during the Christmas holidays. Here we’d like to present a few little-known tidbits about Christmas trees and some other Christmas-related traditions.

Some specie of evergreen tree is purchased for use as a Christmas tree according to the National Christmas Tree Association and in the United States some 330,000 Christmas trees are purchased each year. Trees can be bought from retail stores, supermarkets on street corners from private individuals who get trees wholesale or from tree farms. The scent of real Christmas trees is the reason they are so popular. The aroma of a fresh pine or evergreen tree is one of the reasons having a live, natural tree is such a popular tradition. But, there is yet another benefit to having a living tree. The Christmas Tree Association indicates that the oxygen produced each day by an acre of Christmas trees is enough for 18 people. And in its first week in the house, a Christmas tree will use nearly a quart of water daily in an effort to support its longevity during the Christmas holidays.

President Calvin Coolidge

During the 1950s, many artificial Christmas trees were not green. Christmas trees with other colors such as silver or blue were heavily in use. The appeal of these colorful trees may have been because they had a shining, bright appearance similar to that of tinsel.

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House, a tradition attributed to President Calvin Coolidge (pictured above) beginning in 1923, is yet another important Christmas tradition in the U.S.

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree was not until Dec. 22nd in 1963 because of a national 30 day mourning period due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When Teddy Roosevelt was President he banned Christmas trees from the White House for environmental reasons. Many consider the assassination of
President McKinley in 1901 as the reason Roosevelt banned the trees, but this is actually not the case.

The National Christmas Tree

In 1984, when the National Christmas Tree was lit on December 13th, the temperatures were in the 70s due to an unusually warm month of December. In the United States, the Christmas holidays have been celebrated from the late 1600s onward even though the holiday wasn’t a very widely popular one. It was not until the mid to late 1860s, after America’s Civil War, that Christmas became a popular celebration throughout the U.S. In 1836, the state of Alabama, became the first to declare December 25th a legal holiday. On Christmas Day in 1789, the U.S. Congress was in session. It was not until June 26 of 1870 that Christmas was declared a federal holiday by the government.

Jehovah Witnesses and The Holy Bible

Not all Christian groups celebrate the Christmas holiday season or any related traditions such as decorating a Christmas tree, sending greeting cards and buying gifts. One of those who specifically do not include Jehovah Witnesses who relate from the Holy Bible that Christmas is not specifically named or cited as a time or reason to celebrate the birth of Christ. An issue of the Watchtower, December, 1975 states, “It is generally acknowledged by Bible scholars that December 25th is not the date of Christ’s birth. In fact, the Bible does not pinpoint the date of Jesus’ birth, but it does give us information to the effect that it was not in the winter season.” The same reference also later adds,

“Jesus gave a definite commandment that the day of his death be commemorated every year, saying: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) But as to the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no command to remember it. True Christians today should look to Jesus, not as a babe, but as a mighty spirit person in a position in the heavens second only to his heavenly Father. Now he has been given power over earth as King, and is soon to usher in his thousand-year reign of peace earth wide. (Revelation 11:15).”

Jehovah’s Witnesses therefore, strictly adhere to Jehovah God’s word the Holy Bible, and they refuse to celebrate Christmas with its often-cited pagan origin traditions, in any way.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 135 countries worldwide. Get your FREE, pdf format report on CD or via e-mail, "If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at:


Anonymous said...

This is a really good reading Professor :) I never know that Jehovah Witnesses doesn't celebrate Christmas, well, now I do! Really cool!

U.S. Pacific Air Forces said...

Professor - you might be interested in some of the EFL teaching some of our folks are doing off-duty in Korea. One of our lieutenants just started teaching Korean kids and is blogging about his experiences -