In as much as America originated as a British colony, so have many of the holiday traditions celebrated in the United States carried over from United Kingdom. Though it was actually outlawed in the 17th Century due to rowdy Mardi-Gras style crowds, much of what we envision as traditional Christmas can be traced back to Victorian England. The Christmas tree, which was transformed from a pagan symbol by Martin Luther in Germany, gained popularity when Queen Victoria invited Prince Albert to share some of his childhood holiday memories.
Boxing Day, also celebrated in Canada, has medieval beginnings as church leaders would share the offerings with the poor. Now the December 26th holiday is associated with gifting those who have provided good service for the year.
The Twelve Days of Christmas have their origins in Shakespeare’s work. During this dozen day duration, the Yule Log must be kept aflame or risk bringing bad luck (the flame from the Pagan originated Yule Log was said to invite the light from the approaching year).
Christmas carols and Christmas cards also originated in the countries of United Kingdom, as told by Father Christmas (yet another version of Santa Claus) in this video captured by ITM’s JenniLynn (from Epcot’s Holidays around the World):
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of the few remaining spookier traditions of the Christmas Season, the recounting of ghost stories. The spirit of Dickens’ holiday ghost story is just a relevant today as it was when first published on December 19, 1843.
Stay tuned to ITM for more December diversity featuring the countries of Epcot’s World Showcase.