What is Christmas
Christmas for those that are religious is a sacred holiday day and for others is more of a commercial phenomenon and a great excuse to get together with the family.
For Christians Christmas is a holy day that marks Jesus Christs birth, often Christmas for those that are religious features a midnight mass in which they remember Jesus and all that he did for them.
Christmas celebrations are different for different people as every family has developed their own Christmas Day Traditions.
What is the Origin of Christmas
Christmas for Christians is the day that they celebrate Jesus Christ’s life and mourn his death. When this idea of birthday celebration was first put forward there was big resistance because the church believed that saints, martyrs which included Jesus should be celebrated on their religious birthday.
The 25th December was first assigned as Jesus’ Birthday by Julius Africanus in 221AD and was eventually widely accepted.
Popular Christmas Traditions and their Origins
- Christmas Trees- Saturnalia, was a Roman celebrated holiday around Christmas where they celebrated Saturn their god of agriculture. During Saturnalia the Romans would decorate their temples with fir trees, this tree tradition was kept when Christmas was celebrated instead of Saturnalia.
It is thought that Martin Luther a German theologian was the first to bring the Christmas Tree in doors. Luther was apparently in awe of natures beauty and decided to bring one of the trees around him into his house and attach candles to the branch.
The Germans decorated their trees with edible decorations and were also the first to create tinsel. Electric lights were created in 1895 by an American Ralph Morris.
It wasn’t until 1830 that the Christmas Tree became popular in Britain and in 1841 Prince Albert commissioned a Christmas Tree for Windsor Castle and then in 1846 the traditional annual Royal Family portrait was sketched by the Christmas Tree. This photo encouraged others to not only bring Christmas Trees inside to help celebrate the holiday but also to take their official holiday photo there too.
- Santa Claus and Christmas Stockings- Saint Nicholas was a bishop who lived in Turkey, Saint Nick had a kind and generous reputation. Saint Nicholas was known to give money to the poor and once it was said he dropped a bag of gold down a struggling families chimney so they could pay for their daughter’s dowry. The father tried to find the generous stranger and Saint Nick pleaded with him not to reveal it was him but word soon spread and from that point on when an anonymous gift was given it was presumed to be from St Nick.
As time progressed the stories of Saint Nick changed and became less popular, as a result Saint Nicholas became known as Father Christmas. In 1822 his stories of generosity and anonymous gift giving were rediscovered and updated to feature St Nicholas flying house to house in a sleigh drawn by reindeers to fill stockings for the nice and deserving people.
- Why does Santa wear red- There are multiple different stories about how Santa Claus’ suit became red. One is that Coca Cola launched an incredibly popular marketing campaign that dressed Father Christmas in a red and white Santa suit to match their company colours.
Whilst that is a great story the more likely case is that the red and white Santa suit derived from the traditional bishop robes. Historians disagree with this because bishops robes appeared in many different colours but over the years St Nick and Father Christmas became linked with the red Santa suit we see today.
In ancient drawings of St Nicholas he was seen as a thin intellectual this changed due to Coca Colas advertising who created the rod jolly white haired big beard man we see today. So, even if Coca Cola weren’t responsible for the red Santa suit they definitely played a part in creating the Father Christmas we see today.
- Why do we eat turkey during Christmas- Whilst there are multiple different meats that are seen during Christmas from the Christmas ham to even the Christmas Goose, the Christmas Turkey has become iconic. It is believed that King Henry VIII ordered a turkey feast for Christmas and since then it became traditionally in Britain to have a Turkey during Christmas. A big bonus to the Turkey is that is usually is a large bird and therefore will have enough meat to feed all the family members who reunite over the holidays.
- Christmas Pudding- Christmas Pudding dates all the way back to the 14th century. The Christmas Pudding was originally eaten as a fasting meal preparing people for the huge Christmas feast.
- Where did the Advent Calendar come from and What is the Advent Calendar- In the 19th century Germans would mark the days of advent by lighting a candle and some even drew lines using chalk.
The first wooden Advent Calendar was created in 1851 and at this point the popularity of advent calendars just grew and grew. With Chocolate Advent Calendars being introduced and some Advent Calendars even had small presents hidden behind each door.
- Mistletoe, Why do people kiss under mistletoe- The traditional use of mistletoe was to cure menstrual cramps and even some spleen disorders which is interesting because if you eat the berries you will almost instantly feel very unwell.
Ancient druids believed that the mistletoe was a sign of life because it had the ability to grow even during the harshest winters. It wasn’t until the 18th century that people begun hanging mistletoe in their homes and eventually the superstition of kissing people under the mistletoe started.
- Christmas Cards- In 1843 Sit Henry Cole and John Callcott Horsley designed and sold the first Christmas Card. A regular card that depicted several traditional Christmas scenes. It was so popular and year on year the tradition has stood against the test of time.
Christmas Tradition and their dark origins
- The dark truth about Good King Wenceslas- Many know Good King Wenceslas from the popular Christmas song about a kind man who helps the less fortunate in a snowstorm. The song was based on a real person Wenceslas who in 935AD was on his brothers orders repeatedly stabbed and dismembered while he prayed.
- Christmas Carollers- In the early 1700s Christmas Carollers would turn up on peoples doorsteps and demand food and drink. If they didn’t get what they wanted often the carollers would become violent and destroy the home or worse.
- The creepy Nutcracker- The story of the Nutcracker we know today is based upon an 1816 version called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The original story was written by a German Author Hoffmann and was about a young girl- Marie who cut her arm after a toy nutcracker came to life and startled her. Her godfather tells her of a old wives tale about how the nutcracker was cursed by a heartless queen and could only be freed by true love. Marie proceeds to tell him that she would love the Nutcracker no matter what he looked like, at this moment Marie is whisked away by the nutcracker to the doll kingdom to marry him. The dark side of this is that in the story Marie was only 8 years old.
- Santa and the chimney- The idea of someone sneaking into your house via the chimney while you sleep is inherently scary and has been used in many scary tales and movies. In the Middle Ages it was believed that Witches would enter people houses unannounced through the chimney.
Christmas Around the World
- France- In France Children leave their polished shoes out on Christmas Eve in the hopes that they will wake up on Christmas to them filled with sweets.
- Italy- It is popular in Italy to see the nativity scene which is usually displayed in places of worship and town squares. For Italians in particular those that are religious this is the most important Christmas decoration.
- Germany- German decorations are often very elaborate featuring twinkling lights and traditional glass ornaments. However, they also often only put their Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve.
- England- Some people in England began their Christmas decorating as early as November and these are quite over the top with reindeer light displays outside or multiple Christmas trees. It is tradition to take the tree down by the 12th night after Christmas and if you fail to do this it is considered bad luck.
- Norway- In Norway children wait for Julenisse who brings them presents on Christmas Eve.
- Iceland- Similar to France, Icelandic’s leave their shoes out so Santa Claus can fill them with goodies. Often celebrations in Iceland begin on Christmas Eve with a midnight mass and a pre Christmas meal.
- Philippines- A Filipino Christmas Traditions is called parol which is used to describe a beautiful decorate star of Bethlehem which is made out of colour paper and bamboo. The lantern sits in the middle of the star and can be lit which represents the star shining the way for Mary.
- Australia- Due to the seasons Australians often spend Christmas outside on the beach enjoying the beautiful weather and often some carollers are organised to sign along the beaches.
- South Africa- South African celebrate a slightly different Christmas meal which is called a braai. A braai is a Christmas barbecue.
Christmas Day Facts
- In the 12th Century in France, nuns would leave socks full of fruit and in particular tangerines. This tradition grew and is occasionally still seen today with tangerines being placed inside stockings.
- One of the first Christmas Cards made by Henry Cole was sold in 2014 for just under £10,000.
- The robin became a popular Christmas icon in the last 1800s due to the increase in red vested postman who would be seen delivering Christmas cards during the holiday.
- If you are superstitious it is believed that eating one mince pie every day of the 12 days of Christmas will bring you good luck.
- Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas Pudding, Mince Pies and all gluttony puddings in the 17th century and the law still hasn’t been overturned so technically it is still considered illegal to do so.
- Green, Red and Gold are traditionally Christmas colours which derived from the green which is a symbol of life and rebirth and then the red is both the blood of Christ and represents St Nicks bishops clothes and gold represents the wealth people hope for the upcoming year.
- The most popular Christmas song is Bing Crosbys White Christmas.
- The Beatles hold the most number of Christmas number one songs with a total of 4.
- Silent Night is the most loved Christmas Carole in the UK.
- The most popular Christmas Film is Home Alone.
- The largest Snowman was built in Maine and was 113ft tall.
- The most expensive Christmas Tree was decorated in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and cost just under £7million.
- The amount of beer that is drunk in the UK over Christmas could fill 57 Olympic swimming pools.
Popular Christmas Movies
- A Christmas Story
- Home Alone
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
- The Polar Express
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Eloise at Christmas
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Miracle on 34th Street
- Elf (Fun Fact the role of Elf was originally going to be given to Jim Carrey before Will Ferrel was selected)
- Love Actually
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Die Hard (Big debates happen whether Die Hard is actually a Christmas film or not)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Scrooge (A Christmas Carol)
- The Holiday
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Frosty the Snowman
- Santa Claus and Mrs Claus
- Gingerbread Men
- Elves / Elf
Radley Christmas Bags we Love
Meet the must-have handbag of the season. Take our Arlington Court Suede multiway bag through the working week with ease, featuring multi-compartments and a soft suede finish this design will keep you organised without compromising on style. Wear across your body or use the grab handles and be on your way!
The ultimate piece of arm candy for all your festive soirees, this cross bag will make a striking statement with ease. Crafted in luxurious velvet, the front is accented with beaded embellishment, with an understated plain reverse. It’s hands-free and fuss-free thanks to the detachable shoulder strap, which means you can focus on looking stylish on the dance floor.
There are clutch bags that are guaranteed to steal the spotlight with ease. The Bell Court, rounded clutch is just that. A modern take on an essential style, it’s crafted in satin and accented by beaded embellishment detailing for an opulent feel. Carry it as the finishing touch to every ensemble this festive season.
This season we’ve been influenced by vintage trends with a contemporary twist! This cross body bag from our Magpie Lane collection is inspired by vanity cases, updated with a woven leather hoop handle and double tassel zip pulls to make the perfect evening companion. A silhouette beautifully crafted from sleek faux croc textured leather, it’ll stay with you for years to come.
Radley Christmas Purses we Love
Inspired by our much- loved Pocket Bag, this lightweight and spacious large pouch is perfect for taking away on your travels. A front slip pocket gives you even more space to fit in everything you could possibly need!
Shoot for the stars and add a dose of magic to your everyday essentials with this purse. The classic silhouette is updated showing a Scottie, sat on a pink, metallic moon, scattered stars, cloud appliqués with the words ‘Stay magical.’ Beautifully crafted from smooth leather, it opens to plenty of slip and card compartments, so you can keep smiling for more reasons than one!
While we love a black shoulder bag, one in metallic feels like a fresh and equally stylish alternative. Just in time for the festive season, the Angel Walk multiway bag is here in a beautiful, gold hue to make a stylish statement. We love the multiple internal compartments – perfect for keeping all your essentials safe in one place, while never compromising style.
Step away from your black leather clutch this festive season and opt for a quilted one in a merlot hue instead. This design is crafted in sumptuous velvet – the perfect fabric for elevating your party look. It has a zip fastening with a gold star keyring, and it has enough space to fit in all those all-important essentials and more without looking bulky. Tuck it under your arm and dance the night away.