Although many believe that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is not. It is the fifth to tenth busiest day. The Friday and Saturday before Christmas are the two busiest shopping days of the year.
An artificial spider and web are often included in the decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck.
December 26 was traditionally known as St. Stephen's Day, but is more commonly known as Boxing Day. This expression came about because money was collected in alms-boxes placed in churches during the festive season. This money was then distributed to the poor and needy after Christmas.
The tradition of gifts seems to have started with the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus. The exchanging of gifts between people started in about the 1800’s.
According to legend, holly berries were once thought to be white. Offered humbly by a child to the Christ Child who pricked His finger, the white berries blushed red in grief and shame. Holly has come to represent the crown of thorns worn by Christ when He was crucified, the red of the berries representing His blood.
The first American Christmas carol was written in 1649 by a minister named John de Brebeur and is called "Jesus is Born".
Decorating with holly was an important practice for the Druids, a pagan tribe in northern Europe. Because holly leaves were always green, the Druids believed that the sun never deserted the plant, and it was therefore sacred. Maidens in Old England thought that if they attached holly to their beds it would keep the devil from turning them into witches.
Early Christmas trees were decorated with fruits, flowers and candles, which were heavy on the tree branches. In the 1800's German glass blowers began producing glass balls to replace the heavy decorations and called then bulbs.
Kissing under the mistletoe possibly began in old England. One theory is that the Druids started it all. They believed the mistletoe was sacred and therefore a charm against evil. They used golden sickles to harvest it and, to keep it from touching the ground, caught it in the folds of their priestly garments. Another theory is that the custom was started by the Scandinavians, who considered mistletoe to be a symbol of peace. When enemies chanced to meet under it, so the story goes, they would be required to declare a truce for the day and seal it with a kiss of peace.
For many centuries reindeer have been domesticated in their original habitat, which ranges from Norway into northern Asia. They have been trained to wear harnesses because of their strength, speed, and endurance in pulling sleds over snow.