Significance of Christmas Carols,Santa Claus and Christmas Tree

Christmas Carols

Christmas is synonymous with traditional songs called carols.
‘Deck the halls’, ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’, ‘It came upon a midnight clear’, etc. These are all songs that are sung only at Christmas time. They are popularly known as Christmas carols. The tradition of singing Christmas carols can be traced back to the thirteenth century. Here are some more facts about these songs.
Origin of Carols
‘Carol’ refers to a song that is sung at festival times. The carol itself can have religiously oriented lyrics but is not necessarily a part of church worship. Most carols are joyful songs with quick beats. They may be about a popular character or about a particular festive event. Carols are not exclusive to Christmas. Traditionally, carols were sung at other times like Easter, during the harvest season, etc. However, with time, these songs have diminished in number. Today carols related to Christmas make up the biggest group of these songs.
The word ‘carol’ is derived from the Latin word ‘choraula’. It literally means a dance performed in a circle, accompanied by singing. From the 1100s to the 1350s, carols were purely dance songs, during festival celebrations. Later on, they started to be used during religious processions, and in church plays.
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Santa Claus

Ho! Ho! Ho! Who is Santa Claus? Where did he come from?
Apparently Santa Claus had his origins in a Turkish bishop named Nicholas who later became St. Nicholas. Legend has it that he gave gifts to people in need and this somehow evolved into gift giving on a specific winter day. Later, that day (or at least a specific day–December 25th) became Christmas Day for the Christians.
The Dutch established the custom of celebrating St. Nicholas on his feast day, December 6th, by exchanging gifts. They brought the custom to the new world and English settlers began to pick up on it. The English-speaking children couldn’t pronounce Sinterklaas (the Dutch name for St. Nicholas) correctly. Instead it came out as Santa Claus. The English, being smart parents and not wanting to have to give gifts on two days, quickly associated Santa Claus with Christmas Day.
Interestingly, St. Nicholas/Santa Claus was originally pictured with a noble-like appearance, wearing Bishop’s robes and riding a white horse–no sleigh, no reindeer. However, in 1809 the famous American author Washington Irving published a book which changed him from tall and thin and posed to short and stout and jolly. The change stuck and in 1823 was forever etched into tradition when Clement Moore wrote a poem that starts out: “Twas the night before Christmas…”
Our current image of Santa Claus dates to the 1863-1886 era when a cartoonist for Harpers Weekly magazine, Thomas Nast, drew up a series of images of the short and stout and jolly version of Santa with a white beard and a red suit. Over the years Nast added such embellishments as a workshop, and, of course, illustrated Clement Moore’s sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.


Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is considered as the symbol of eternal life. It is believed that the tradition of putting up the Christmas tree first started in Germany, after which it came to the UK in the 1830s. The legend also has that after the birth of Jesus Christ in the winter season, some of the trees shook off the snow and turned green to mark the great event. Thus, the Christmas tree represents permanence and immortality.- different article
As mentioned above, Christmas day was celebrated by pagan cultures as part of solstice celebrations where they decorated their homes in green with a desire to bring prosperity and spring. Those trees remain unaffected during winters and darkest days, so they were believed to hold special powers. The Romans also decorated their homes with Fir trees to celebrate Saturnalia and decorated them with embellishments. Some evidence also shows the Greeks decorating their trees in honour of their God. The tradition started in Central Europe, especially in Estonia, Germany and (Livonia (now Latvia), where Protestant Christians would bring decorated trees into their homes. They used to garnish the tree with paper roses, apples, wafers, shiny metal strips, and candies. Moravian Christians started the practice of lighting up Christmas trees with candles, which were replaced by electric Christmas lights as time passed. Nowadays, people use a mix of traditional and modern decorations like garlands, round ornaments, shiny metal strips, and candy canes. Many people place an angel or star at the top of the tree to symbolize the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the birth story of Jesus. Tasty treats such as gingerbread, chocolate, and other candies are also favorites, and are tied to the tree branches using ribbons.