Mystic Christmas: A Symbolic Interpretation of Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas The Night Before Christmas
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Belsnickel, sometimes posing as Santa Claus in furry disguises, sometimes with whiskers, may have been Donner Lower German thunder god better known as the Norse Thor rather than Woden see Harper's Illustrated Weekly sketch , hence being the devil, pagan and anti-Christian. Kristkindl corrupted to Kriss Kingle in the U. Amalgamated with St. Nicholas, Kriss Kringles's Book added "r" , Philadelphia, Unlike Santa Claus early Kriss Kringle did not fill socks, but put presents on the tree. Nicholas reference and ecclesiastical trappings are completely removed.

He is portrayed as a giant, wearing a scarlet or green fur-lined robe, has a crown of holly, ivy or mistletoe, carries a Yule log and a bowl of punch. He distributes gifts on Christmas Eve. The account of the Seed Tree or "tree of all germs" in Paradise, described in the Avesta , becomes the story of the Tree of Life Genesis in the biblical Garden of Eden. With the introduction of Christianity in northern Europe the beliefs of sacred trees in Germanic mythology incorporate the concept of the Tree of Life. This association is explained by the English missionary Winfred later St.

Boniface in northern Germany during the early 8th century. The fir tree commemorates the Holy Child. Winfred chanced upon a group of heathens at an oak tree. They were preparing to sacrifice a little prince to the god Thor. He stopped the sacrifice and cut down the "blood oak. Decoration maybe was based on the Paradise Tree apples--the serpent from the popular mystery play about the "fall of man," which was being performed by December 24th was Adam and Eve's Day in the early Christian calendar.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

The play ends with foretelling Christ's coming and incarnation--Christmas tie to Nativity? Another medieval mystery play setting was the Weihnachtspyramide , a wooden pyramid.

A wooden pyramid "of green brush wood," with candles was present for a Moravian Christmas in Bethlehem, Pa. These two devices were probably the origin of the Christmas tree. Estonians claim to have displayed evergreen Christmas trees since An evergreen tree was decorated on Christmas Eve in Riga, Latvia, There is no continuity of this event and later developments.

Clearly Christmas vegetation, probably decorated, was being put in homes by this time. The first recorded tree referred to as a Christmas tree was at Strassburg, Alsace, in It was called a Paradise Tree see above. Christmas trees are common throughout Germany, from Alsace-Lorraine area, by early 19th century. Christmas trees were in England by , became common by , and popular after Dickens' Christmas Carol It had candles, ornaments, ribbons and trinkets.

A widely dispersed engraving of the tree pictures Albert, Victoria and their children. Modified copies of this engraving removal of queen's tiara and alteration of ornaments appeared in U. Possibly the Christmas tree may have had limited occurrence in America by Upper Rhine Pennsylvania Dutch as early as According to legend Christmas trees were introduced to America by Hessian troops, but there is no documented evidence.

Washington crossed the Delaware without resistance, , since the Hessians were supposedly celebrating Christmas. Hessians are credited with introducing the tree to children at Newport, R. Another undocumented reference is that in U. The Pennsylvania Dutch probably introduced the Christmas tree to America. First documented occurrence was Matthew Zahm, Lancaster Co. It was popular in New England after widespread distribution of a penny pamphlet reprint of a page in Retrospect of Western Travel, Harriet Martineau, Commercially cut trees were in Philadelphia markets by and tree cutting in the Catskills by Mark Carr, created a market in New York City.

The artificial Christmas trees, made of wire and covered with feathers, appear in Germany in the s. The first artificial brush trees were manufactured by the Addis Brush Co in s. The annual lighting of the Christmas tree at the White House began in A communal Christmas tree was displayed on Mt. Wilson near Pasadena, California in The Christmas tree is not present to this day in Mediterranean countries--Italy, Spain, rare and recent in Greece Olive tree used by Byzantines.

There is information that Neo-Babylonians practiced a lighting ceremony commemorating the rebirth of Tammuz see Date sec. This ceremony was transferred to the commemoration of Mithra after syncretization with Tammuz by the Mazdaysnians. Lighting was probably achieved by use of oil lamps, but when the ceremony became establish in Rome, dipped tapered candles, a method and form devised by the Romans, was used. This "Feast of Light" a phrase used by Josephus was transferred to the celebrating of the Christian Nativity, when this celebration replaced that of Mithra's rebirth.

Christmas tree candles common by midth century. They were possibly adapted from tree ring candle circle around tree or candle pyramids, important features of Paradise Mystery Play see preceding. Use of candles in floor trees evolve from table trees in the late 19th century.

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They were a fire hazard. Bayberry candles may be English. Bayberry is a coastal plant. Bayberry candles are popular in New England. The first publically lighted tree was at Reading, Pa. The 15th century Klausenbaum was a craft guild tradition. The tree was wrapped in paper and decorated with apples and candies. A star or angel was placed atop the tree by the beginning of the 17th century.

Metallic angel hair used on Christmas trees in eastern U. Fiberglass angel hair developed in Germany about Used as garlands in Europe, individual stands in America. Glass blowing of Christmas tree ornaments develops as a cottage industry in Lauscha, Thuringia, Germany, in the 's. These ornaments become common in America in the 's and include glass globes Paradise Tree apples?

Ornaments are kept from year to year.

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Patent for tree stands was issued to Hermann Albrecht and Abram C. Mott, Philadelphia, Thin silver sheeting was produced in Germany about Silver tinsel icicles developed in Nuremberg, Germany, They tended to tarnish and lead foil was substituted. They became popular in the U. Metal "Rope" garland becomes popular about It originates from manufacturing process of extruding silver-plated copper, developed for decorating military uniforms, Germany, Mistletoe is a common parasite on oak and ash trees. It remains green throughout the winter, thus symbolizing renewal. Kissing under mistletoe bough or sprigs was a custom of the English servant class in the 18th century until when it begin to spread to the upper classes.

Dickens describes the activity in the Pickwick Papers , Holly , used on festive occasions in Rome. Ivy was a common alternative, especially in England. Wreaths with berries originate with the Roman Christians. According to legend Christ's "crown of thorns" was of holly, the berries turning from white to red after crucifixion.

Advent candles four, one each Sunday before Christmas in a wreath occur in Hamburg , made by Lutherans. This custom may date back to and may be the basis of the Advent Calendar? It is hardier than wild forms with brighter berries and glossier leaves.

Walken and Goldblum read Twas the Night Before Christmas

It is called Meserve Holly. Poinsettia , introduced to U. It was considered to be the "flower of the blessed night," representing the star of Bethlehem to Mexicans in the 18th century. It is a common decoration in Mexican Nativity processions. The poinsettia as a potted plant was promoted by Albert Ecke, Hollywood, California, in the early 's.

Yule log usually of oak or ash , is a burning rite, probably of some antiquity, recorded in Germany in and later in the Italian Alps, Balkans, Scandinavia, France and Iberia. The ceremony is flourishing in Devon, England, by the 's and becomes associated with Father Christmas. Goose as Christmas food is probably a part of this complex too. The Christmas food we eat today is a blend of two feast patterns.

The second food pattern is the Harvest Bounty Feast.

The little-known Jewish holiday of Christmas Eve. Seriously.

Pilgrims in New England established this tradition and by the 19th century the celebration was transferred from autumnal thanksgiving harvest time to winter Christmas time. The bulk of the colonial Atlantic south Maryland to Georgia had little celebration, Christmas being disdained by Scotch- Irish Presbyterians. Winter festival food original Christmas food at Jamestown, is oysters, fish, "meat," wild fowl and bread. Eggnog, originally egg grog post is a later colonial Virginia concoction. It was made by adding rum to the French drink lait de poule.

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Traditional winter festival food is boar, roast, mince meat pie, plum pudding raisin "hearts," no plums , sugarplums originally greengage plums boiled in syrup and cornstarch, crystallized by cooling, but now considered to be chocolate coated cordials. The term survives from Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas poem "with visions of sugarplums dancing" and The Nutcracker Suite "Sugarplum fairy". Goose also in complex see above. Wassailing salutation drinking from a bowl , is an Anglo-Saxon at least the term - Wass Hael, "Be in health.

Harvest bounty food supposed original food at Plymouth Rock, is turkey, pumpkin, corn, lima beans and cranberries. The only food items that have any documentation at the original meal, however, are venison and wild fowl turkey? Turkey was domesticated in Mesoamerica and was in England by and then to New England by early colonists and crossbred. Some original Pilgrims may have eventually known of domesticated turkey. To show the split in food pattern, Puritans banned mince pie in colonial and commonwealth Massachusetts.

They believed the devil was baked in. It is now tolerated for Thanksgiving. By the 19th century these two basic food traditions were blending in Europe and America. Though Dickens, Christmas Carol , conveys a Winter Festival food tradition, Tiny Tim's family served fowl, and turkey is mentioned at end of the story.

An ideal New Yorker city Christmas meal in was turkey stuffed with oysters. Hubbard winter squash Andes is later food item and now thrives in the cool climate of New England. The "Irish" potato was domesticated in the Andes highlands and was introduced to America from Ireland after the Irish famine of The sweet potato was domesticated in northern tropical South America.

It probably was introduced to the southern U. To this day it is not popular in New England.

Clement Clarke Moore

Mystic Christmas: A Symbolic Interpretation of T'was the Night Before Christmas - Kindle edition by George Adams. Download it once and read it on your Kindle. "Mystic Christmas" is a unique symbolic interpretation of the world's most famous Christmas poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." It answers the age-old.

The yam we are familiar with is not a true yam, but a variety of sweet potato. The circumstances of the birth of Jesus are unknown see Date section, para. Biblical accounts are contradictory about the type of locale of Jesus' birth. In Luke 2. There is no mention of a stable. In Matthew 2. In biblical times a typical house had an attached room for animals. Though Joseph and Mary may have been turned away from an inn Luke 2. There is tradition that Christ was born in a cave near Bethlehem, according to the pseudepigraphal gospel of James, and by Justin Martyr in the 2nd century.

Though the evidence of a pastoral setting for Jesus' birth is not clear it was assumed by some as early as A. There are Medieval manger scenes in caves, houses and churches, and occasionally in stables or with shepherds. The ox and ass legend is no earlier than 3rd century and was added in art representation by It is based on non-gospel biblical accounts: "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib" Isaiah 1.

Francis of Assisi, in Greccio, Italy, , initiated the tradition of the more elaborate nativity pageant with animals in a grotto. Pastoral nativity pageants in stable with shepherds are post-Medieval and develop in south German areas, probably from Moravian German putz decoration. Shepherds were also present at birth of Mithra see Date sec.

Moore He was a graduate of Columbia University, where he later became a professor of Oriental and Greek literature. While there is no clear account of how he first penned Twas the Night Before Christmas - originally titled A Visit From Saint Nicholas but more widely known by its famous first line - the accepted theory is that he composed it for the holiday delight of his six children in They enjoyed the playful rhyme so much that the next year it was published in a New York newspaper. For years it was assumed to have been anonymously written because Moore did not want to be associated with such a simple work.

Instead, he preferred to be credited with more scholarly writings, not knowing that his simple efforts at holiday verse would be remembered and treasured for centuries. The catchy wording, vivid imagery, and memorable lines of Twas the Night Before Christmas have given rise to contemporary symbolism influencing society's perceptions of St.

Nicholas, more commonly known as Santa Claus. It is the most human and kindly of seasons, as fully penetrated and irradiated with the feeling of human brotherhood, which is the essential spirit of Christianity, as the month of June with sunshine and the balmy breath of roses. Blessed be God for His unspeakable gift. We need Him. Souls desire Him as the hart panteth after the water brooks. He came to the world in the fullness of time. He comes at this advent season to us. To-day may be for some soul here the fullness of time. Let us open the gates and admit Him, that this Christ may be our Christ forever; that living with Him and dying with Him, we may also be glorified together with Him.

David J. Burrell, D. It is His presence that fills our homes with mirth and song. Christian at Work. The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance.

You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world. A man who is habitually mean, selfish, narrow, is a man without Christmas in his soul. Let us cling to Christmas all the more as a day of the spirit which in every age some souls have believed to be the possible spirit of human society. The earnest faith and untiring endeavor which see in Christmas a forecast are more truly Christian, surely, than the pleasant cynicism of Atheists, etc. Meanwhile we may reflect that from good natured hopelessness to a Christmas world may not be farther than from star dust to a solar system.

George William Curtis. We see Jesus in the manger. We adore Him; we worship Him; we glorify Him. We thank Thee for the sweetness of human love, but how could we ever have dared to think that such love was in the heart of God for us!

We look on nature and see Thy beauty and Thy majesty, but we are afraid, for we have sinned. And then we learn that Thou has sent Thy Son, to be bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh; and before such inconceivable love we can only worship and adore. We are so weary of our failures and our slow growth toward Thee.

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Cleanse us deeply from sin, strengthen our moral purposes. The lovely legends of the day; the stories and the songs and the half-fairy lore that gather around it; the ancient traditions of dusky woods and mystic rites; the magnificence or simplicity of Christian observance, from the pope in his triple tiara, borne upon his portative throne in gorgeous state to celebrate pontifical high mass at the great altar of St.

For Christmas is the day of days which declares the universal human consciousness that peace on earth comes only from good will to men. The whole air at the first Christmastide was tremulous with joy. Let joy come still to our homes and hearts. Christ gives brightness and beauty, gladness and glory, to the whole circle of life and duty. Come, Lord Jesus, there shall be room for Thee in our homes. Once there was none in the inn, but only in the stable; now our best is Thine.

Only honor us with Thy beneficent presence. Let us away with strife at this season; now is the time to speak kindly words. Let us not carry into the new year the enmities of the old; let not the harsh notes of contention come into the heavenly song of peace. He was the only person ever born into the world who had His choice as to how He should come. He might have come man, as did the first Adam; He came a babe.

He inserted Himself into our race at its lowest and weakest point. If He were to lift the race He must get under it. He glorified the cradle; He beautified boyhood; He sanctified motherhood. Robert S. MacArthur, D. For us, however, in these northern climes, and with our traditions and associations, Christmas could not well be better placed than where it is. Life is at its lowest, and death reigns, or seems to reign, everywhere. Saving the thick-berried holly, the mistletoe, dear to Druid priests, the laurel, and the yew, the trees are bared, and the warblers of the sky avoid their desolate branches.

We are driven inward.