Thursday, December 25, 2014

Worldwide Genealogy -- Christmas Tree Traditions

Today is my day to contribute a monthly post to Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration blog. I wrote about Christmas tree traditions from the countries where my husband and my ancestors lived. The traditions came from the Lenox "Christmas Trees from Around the World" collection my mother-in-law started for me in 1991.

I hope you'll click over to my post to learn more about the Christmas tree traditions from Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Hungary, Russia and the United States.

I will share two countries with you here -- one from my family and one from my husband, Pete's:


Ireland is said to be the place where many Christmas costumes and rituals were born. To bring good luck, the early Winter Solstice celebration -- Alban Arthusan -- involves burning the Yule log on the remains of the previous year's ashes. Also, decorating the tree with heavenly objects dates back to early Irish times. Hanging small gifts on the tree as spiritual offerings evolved into the custom of exchanging gifts. The practice of placing a red candle in the window on Christmas Eve to light the way for Mary and Joseph also began in the Emerald Isle.

2001 Lenox Ireland plate

The 2001 Lenox plate is inspired by this rich Irish legacy and captures many of the timeless Irish holiday traditions.


Poland celebrates the Christmas tradition as a Festival of the Star. As the first star in the evening sky appears on Christmas Eve, the day-long feast of "Wigilia" is ended and families gather to honor the Holy Child. A small table before the family Nativity shrine is bright with candles and special pastries for the season. After a festive Christmas Eve supper, the Star Man arrives to present the children with small gifts which they believe are sent by the good Star of Heaven, but carried to them by the Wise Men. Villagers dressed as characters from the Nativity travel from house to house singing Polish carols that date back to the fifteenth century. At midnight on Christmas Eve "Pascerka," the Mass of the Shepherds is celebrated and the legend retold that those who have lived good lives can see a vision of Jacob's ladder on this special night.

1994 Lenox Poland plate

The 1994 Lenox plate is decorated with paper chains and ornaments made by school children and sold in village ships. At the base of the tree are gathered the traditional sweetmeats that accompany the Christmas Eve meal.

No comments:

Post a Comment