Where Did Our Christmas Traditions Come From?




Not everybody celebrates Christmas. Some celebrate Hanukkah, some Kwanzaa, but either way most people are celebrating this time of year. They are spending time with family and friends, eating, drinking, exchanging gifts, enjoying family traditions, and being festive. In today’s blog in honor of the holiday season we share some history regarding where our Christmas traditions came from.


Probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, Christmas as we know it has been passed down from the Victorians of the 1860s.

  • Mistletoe: During the Victorian Era the British would hang mistletoe in doorways and from the ceiling and would kiss whoever was standing under it.
  • Caroling: Caroling was begun in England by wandering musicians looking for a hot meal, or money, from the rich.
  • Christmas cards: Christmas cards are another tradition begun in England, by John Calcott Horsley. He created small cards with pre-written holiday greetings in the late 1830s.
  • Poinsettia: In 1828, Joel R. Poinsett, the American minister to Mexico, brought a red and green plant back to America from a visit there. Stores in New York began selling them at Christmas, and by the 1900s they became a universal symbol of the Christmas holidays.
  • Christmas trees: Decorating Christmas trees began as a winter solstice tradition in Germany before the 17th century. The first Christmas trees decorated on American soil were by German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the 1820s. However, it wasn’t until the mid 1800s that the custom spread throughout America homes.
  • Eggnog: It is said that in 1607, Jamestown settlers were the first to drink eggnog made in the U.S.

Speaking of eggnog, the holidays are filled with sugary sweets. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss daily throughout the holiday season!

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The Gateway Dental Group provides comprehensive dental treatments including general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry. As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Burds also has extensive experience helping his patients suffering from sleep disorders obtain restful sleep via oral appliance therapy. You can contact Dr. Stephen J. Burds office at 515-442-5659. We welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.