Christmas Traditions

Origins Unclear

The origins of many Christmas traditions are unclear and are often the result of the fusing of elements from many folklores and faiths. This is particularly true where a country has adopted different faiths over the centuries. Ancient practices are continued and absorbed into new belief systems and passed down the generations.


Advent, derived from the Latin word Adventus meaning “coming”, is a season celebrated by many Christian denominations in anticipation of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a period traditionally marked by the keeping of many customs including fasting and the hanging of purple and blue decorations in churches. In northern England woman would carry two dolls which represented the Virgin Mary and Jesus in order to collect money from those who saw them. The failure to donate having seen the dolls was considered to bring bad luck. In Normandy children were sent to run through fields and orchards carrying burning torches to set fire to piles of straw. This was believed to eradicate vermin from the crops. The most common traditions that survive in Western cultures are use of the Christmas Advent calendar and Christmas stockings.

Countdown Calendars

Christmas Advent calendars have their origins in the German Lutheran tradition of counting down the first 24 days of December. The first know example was produced in 1851 and was handmade. The first printed advent calendar is believed to have been produced in Hamburg circa 1903 but the concept was popularised by the German printing company Reichhold and Lang who produced and marketed more than 30 designs before their demise in 1930. Advent or countdown calendars are now used in many cultures to mark the passing of days approaching significant celebrations.

Modern Calendars

Today’s calendars are normally manufactured from card and feature 24 perforated and numbered windows which can be opened each day to reveal pictures or small gifts such as sweets and chocolates. Advent calendars are mainly aimed at children and are produced in huge quantities by toy and confectionary companies at the risk of inviting criticism for their largely non-religious content. The calendars containing chocolates have been known to be popular with adults too !

Socks and Stockings

The exact origins of the Christmas stocking are unclear but appear to derive from several, mainly Nordic, legends. One story tells of a nobleman who died leaving his three daughters without dowries. St Nicholas felt sorry for the girls and threw gold coins down their chimney which were caught by their stockings hanging out to dry over the fireplace. Another tale surrounds the story of the Scandinavian figure Odin. Children would leave out their socks filled with food for Odin’s horse Sleipnir and in return the horse would leave treats in the socks for the children. This legend evolved to include St Nicholas or Santa Claus with the arrival of Christianity.

Larger Stockings

The modern commercial nature of Christmas has resulted in increasingly large numbers of gifts being given to children and adults alike. The old custom of leaving out a sock or stocking has evolved into the manufacture of larger and larger sock shaped bags to be left out for the visit of Father Christmas. In fact many such receptacles no longer resemble stockings at all and are merely Christmas gift sacks !

The Commercial World

So many Christmas traditions have been transformed by the intervention of the commercial world that the original significance of the legends have been lost to us but the charm of the Christmas stocking and Advent calendar do live on in most houses today, even in the absence of children !

The Contemporary Home offer a great selection of Christmas advent calendars for all the family.

Christmas presents for the man you’re dating



Buying a Christmas present for the guy you’re dating can be tricky, especially if you’ve only just started seeing each other. You don’t want to look too keen and scare him off, but you do want him to feel special. You obviously need to know the boundaries and where you are in your relationship before you go off spending money on someone who doesn’t feel the same way. However, having said this, Christmas is about surprises; you don’t want to know too much as where’s the fun in Christmas shopping then?

Whatever stage you are at in your relationship, we have pulled together some gift ideas for you to buy your – new or not so new – man. A full range of House of Fraser presents for men can be found at their website. Here’s our selection of the best.

Dating time: less than a month

You don’t know him all that well yet and you don’t want to come off too clingy by getting something corny or cheesy. Keep things neutral; a personal organiser, a leather wallet or a bottle of his favourite tipple are perfect casual gifts.

Dating time: two to four months

You know more about him at this stage and therefore you can make the gift more personal. However, men are often a little intimidated by notions of commitment, so you don’t want to go all out just yet. You could venture along the music/DVD/entertainment scene, but these kinds of choices are very personal and you could easily get it wrong. A safer route is aftershave or a grooming gift set. Lacoste and Hugo Boss have new gift sets out in time for Christmas, alternatively, just get him a fragrance you like the smell of. After all, we are partly attracted to people because of their smell.

Dating time: five to eight months

Now things are getting serious. He might have even met your folks, or is about to over Christmas dinner. Now is a good time to prove to him how much he really means to you and it’s quite safe to put a little more of your heart, time and thought into the gift. Men are quite fussy about watches, so this is a hard present to get right, but if you do you will prove just how well you know him as well as scoring major cool girlfriend points among his mates.

Dating time: nine to 12 months

You’ve almost made it to the year mark. This is cause for celebration in itself and you probably feel your man deserves a little spoiling. Smartbox gift experiences available at House of Fraser are perfect. Choose from the Adrenaline and Adventure packs to give him the opportunity of racing a Lamborghini or driving an 18-tonne tank.

Celebrate Christmas with Love and Light

Love and romance at ChristmasThis Christmas, Christian singles everywhere will be celebrating the Christmas season with love and light. This is a festive time of the year, and it is especially so for Christians with all of the beautiful religious connections to the holiday. There is a feeling of celebration that is constantly in the air, and it has rightly been referred to many times as the season of hope. It has also been referred to as the season of joy. Both of these aspects are perfectly descriptive of Christmas and everything that it represents, and you should be prepared for this Christmas season to be the best one ever.

If you are looking for someone else to share the season with, you should certainly consider online dating. This has been growing rapidly in popularity, and is a great way for you to meet other Christian singles in your area. No more will you have to hope for luck or waste your time getting to know people that you do not have a strong connection with. This process can be daunting, frustrating, and can take a lot of the excitement out of the idea of dating at all. It can even make people feel like they should give up on dating altogether.

With online dating, however, you do not need to be afraid that this will happen again. You will be able to connect with other Christians who share your views and your love for religion. Many soul mates have met in this fashion, and many more will this Christmas season.

There will be a lot of love in the air around Christmas, and you should find someone to share this wonderful time with, someone whom you can grow to love. There is no reason not to, and every reason to start looking right now on an internet sight that has your best interests at heart. The site will help you to weed out all of the people who you do not care about, by saving you from having to look through them at all.

If you sign up today, you can go online and browse through listings of hundreds of people who could all be your potential match. The only problem that you may have this year is figuring out which one to choose, as there are so many. Don’t be alone this Christmas. Find someone to share the season with, and celebrate with love and light.

Love, faith, feast and fasting for February

As a Christian, celebrating Valentine’s Day might not be the thing for you, but February gives you and your partner other chances to spend time together.

After Valentine’s Day passes on February 14, the new week brings Shrove Tuesday (February 16) and the start of on Lent on Ash Wednesday (February 17).

Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, is a great day for fun in the kitchen, as the day is the eve of Lent and traditionally the night when family and friends feast together to use up all the food in the cupboards before the abstinence of Lent.

During Lent there are many foods that some Christians – historically and today – would not eat, like meat, fats, eggs, and milky foods, which is why pancakes are on the menu for the day.

Ash Wednesday is the day Christians were marked with ashes from burned crosses of the previous Palm Sunday as a mark of sorrow.

Pancake Day is a chance for fun and frolics

If you and your loved one have strong faith, then no doubt you will respect these days.

Although Lent is all about self-reflection and abstinence, there’s no reason Shrove Tuesday should not stand for a little fun as Lent takes us soberly along to Easter.

Many Christians have a dilemma between their faith and their partners that is highlighted at this time of the year.

If your partner does not worship with you, that does not make either of you good or bad, just different, providing you have that respect for the other’s beliefs and point of view.

Dilemma over your faith should not be any more of an issue than your partner’s choice of spending time with friends or at an activity they enjoy.

That’s really the spice of life – having different views and belief but a common love for each other.

For a modern Christian with a soul mate who respects their partner’s faith, taking some time out to say ‘love you’ should not raise any dilemma.