HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Where History Meets Mystery! Earlier his week, I talked about one of my all-time favorite Christmas tales from the Victorian period, A Christmas Carol written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, and how it really played into the politics of what was going on in Victorian England at the time. For the remainder of the week, I wanted to talk about 5 historical facts regarding Christmas you might have not known about. I realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and for those who don’t, I still hope you find this interesting. Today, I am discussing fact #3 and fact #4.
#3. Away In A Manger:
The Nativity Scenes that we see all over different countries in churches and homes has its origins in Italy in the 13thCentury. In 1223, St. Francis of Assissi made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem. While there he visited the historical cave that housed the rustic stable where Jesus was born. It is believed that Francis was so moved by the place that he was inspired to recreate the scene for a special Mass on Christmas Eve. He held this Mass in a cave in Greccio, Italy, where he set up an empty manger or feeding trough and brought in a live ox and a donkey to more accurately recreate the first Christmas night. He is said to have wanted to do something so that people would remember the simplicity and poverty in which this child had been born, and for his people to remember the true reason for Christmas celebration.
#4 Itsy Bitsy Spider:
I don’t know about you, but I have never associated Christmas with spiders. However, tinsel for the Christmas Tree has its origins in spider’s webs and is reported to have come from legends in Northern European countries such as Germany, Ukraine, Finland and Scandinavia. Most of these legends center around a poor family who cannot afford decorations for their Christmas tree, which in some tales grew from a pine cone in their house and in others was brought in by the family. When the household goes to sleep, a spider housed in the tree, covers it with intricately designed cobwebs. By the time the family rises in the morning, the spider’s beautiful webs have magically turned to strands of silver and gold. Some people believed that St. Nicholas’ magical powers turned the web to precious metals and others say it was the magical powers of the light of the sun. Apparently, it is considered good luck in parts of Poland, Germany and Ukraine to find a spider or spider’s web on your Christmas tree. Spider’s Web ornaments called ‘pavuchy’ (little spider) made of paper and silver wire are very popular in those countries.
Come back tomorrow for the final little known fact of Christmas.
Have you finished your holiday shopping? If not, what a better gift to give than a book—perhaps a riveting murder mystery? Do you have a person in your life who might like to read a mystery featuring Annie Oakley and set during the hey-day of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, or maybe they might enjoy one set in the theater of Broadway show business during the roaring 1920’s, or what about a mystery set in the American Southwest of the 1950’s? The possibilities are endless! If these options sound like good gift ideas to you, you might want to head over to Amazon to check out my Annie Oakley Mystery series, or my 1920’s novel, Grace in the Wings, or my southwestern mystery Bones of the Redeemed. Happy shopping!