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Holiday Decorating Traditions

When it comes to decorating and getting in a holiday mood, it’s easy to envy the people that it comes easy too. During childhood, handmade wisemen would take the long journey from one end of the house to the other and there was magic in the movement. European friends, celebrating the feast of Saint Nicholas, would have little oranges and chocolate coins on the 6th, and other friends would have the most beautiful candles set up and a Hanukkah bush that was similar to our own tree but different and interesting and new. I’m not sure what other people do to celebrate this season and what traditions come with Kwanzaa, Midwinter, etc, but I thought I’d share a couple common decorating choices and how they’re represented in a different traditions as well as a little history behind them.

Holiday Decorating Traditions - Patrick Murray Realty - Luxury Real Estate Calgary

The Tree.

While now a days most people see an evergreen set up in the living room and assume it’s a christmas tree, there are actually many traditions that use a tree. The Hanukkah bush that I mentioned earlier is just one of them. The use of evergreens as a symbol of eternal life can be traced back to ancient Egypt. In North America, the tradition was introduced by Brunswick soldiers in Quebec. That tree was decorated with candles and edibles. While we recommend sticking with electric lights instead of candles, it might be fun to to make traditional decorations from nuts and fruit. 


This spiny green plant with red berries is pretty easy to recognize. It’s been used by Christians since medieval times but most people recognize it now a days because it’s used to decorate cards and other holiday decor. However, holly was first seen used in winter celebrations by druids who wore holly wreaths on their heads. 


It makes sense that when it comes to holidays taking place around the longest night (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) that many traditions would utilize candles -- and they do. Possibly one of the most easily recognized use of candles is in the unique nine-branched candelabrum often called a menorah. The menorah is used to celebrate Hanukkah. The Kwanzaa tradition also uses a candelabrum. Theirs holds seven candles and is called a kinara. Christianity use candles as well. Their advent wreath, which includes four candles, marks the weeks before Christmas.

Regardless of your traditions, religion (or lack there of), or interest in the holiday season, I hope you have great December and stay safe. Happy Holidays.