We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving feast and celebration. Now comes decorating with Christmas while getting in the spirit with Christmas music. We thought it would be fun to reflect on the history of our Christmas traditions such as Christmas Lights, Christmas Cards, and Mistletoe.
Christmas Tree Lights
You may or may not know that Christmas tree lights started as candles in Germany. During the 17th century, the German people attached candles to the tree using wax or pins. The German people originally started the tradition to illuminate the ornaments that they placed on the tree. This practice continued until around 1900, when candleholders became popular. People began to use them instead of wax or pins to hold the candles to the trees. The tradition spread over the years to other countries of Eastern Europe. Of course, today, the tradition is practiced worldwide.
Thomas Edison changed Christmas tree lights with the invention of the light bulb and electricity. In 1882, Edward Johnson (a friend of Thomas Edison) lit the first Christmas tree in New York using electric lights. Edward lit the tree with beautiful red, white, and blue lights, which are still favorites of many people today.
The First Christmas Card
The first person to create a Christmas Card was in Victoria, England, by a well-known educator, Henry Cole. Henry circulated with the elite and social circles of his time. Hence, he had many friends.
During the holiday season of 1843, he had the task of writing holiday letters to all his friends. His friends had grown to so many he had to come up with a clever idea to reach them all. He asked an artist friend, J.C. Horsley, to design an idea he had in mind. Using Cole’s vision, Horsley made the illustration showing a family at a table celebrating the holiday. On each side of the picture, he created images of people helping the poor. Cole had a thousand copies made by a London printer.
Photo from Smithsonianmag.com
The printer printed the images on a piece of stiff cardboard 5 1/8 x 3 1/4 inches in size. At the top of each was the salutation, “TO: _____.” In this way, Cole was able to personalize his cards, which included the greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”
Kissing Under the Mistletoe
The Celtic Druids are considered the first people to use Mistletoe. The Druids used it in ceremonies at least a few thousand years ago, but they didn’t kiss under it. They believed Mistletoe to have sacred powers. Some of these powers included healing illnesses, protecting against nightmares, and predicting the future.
The Druids would collect Mistletoe during the summer solstice (June) and winter solstice (December). (Solstices are the days when the Sun’s path in the sky is the farthest north or south from the Equator.)
In ancient Greece, mistletoe was associated with fertility. In Greek mythology, Aeneas carried mistletoe to protect himself on his journey to the underworld and ensure his return.
The tradition of kissing under the Mistletoe is considered by some to have started with the Roman festival of Saturnalia. It was a festival held on December 17th of the Julian calendar (Julius Caesar’s calendar later replaced by the Gregorian calendar – the calendar we use today). The celebration was in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture.
Modern Times – Kissing under the Mistletoe (even with Braces)
Today, couples simply kiss when caught standing under the Mistletoe. If you are worried you cannot kiss under the mistletoe while wearing braces, I want to tell you not to worry. We recommend you keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh. We recommend this for people wearing braces and for people who don’t wear braces. However, wearing braces can make it more challenging to maintain good oral health, so make sure you put in the time and effort to stay healthy and keep your mouth fresh.
Our Holiday Wishes to You
Our team here at McDonough Orthodontics hope that you have lots to smile about over the holidays. We wish you and your family good health and joyous festivities and that you finish 2021 in good spirits.
Happy Holidays to You!
Dr. David McDonough