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‘TIS THE SEASON

The origins & evolution behind some of America’s most popular Christmas traditions.

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CHRISTMAS TREES

The modern-day Christmas tree originated in 17th century Germany before spreading throughout Europe.

It wasn’t until the 1830s that it was introduced in the U.S. It is believed that Great Britain’s Queen Victoria‘s love of decorating the tree helped make the tradition popular on both sides of the pond.

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SANTA CLAUS

The original Saint Nicholas, a Greek gift-giving bishop, lived during the 4th century in modern-day Turkey.

St. Nick wasn’t introduced to America until the early 19th century. The legend of Santa Claus living in the *then* fictional North Pole dates back to an 1866 depiction by a British cartoonist.

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MISTLETOE

Although many ancient cultures associated the plant with fertility and good fortune, the tradition of kissing beneath it was born in 18th century Britain.

Today, the white-berried mistletoe that most Americans associate with Christmas is native to Mexico and grows in North American oak trees.

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CANDY CANES

There’s no proof supporting the myth that the treat is shaped into a “J” for Jesus, but according to some, during the 17th century, a German choirmaster molded the candies into the shape of a shepherd’s staff to distract and quiet children during Christmas church services.

The red & white stripes didn’t become standard until around 1950.

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Widely regarded as perhaps the least popular Christmas tradition, the fruitcake, dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, before becoming a Christmas staple in 16th century Europe, where it was later banned briefly for being "too rich."

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