Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas A to Z Letter O

Welcome Back to Christmas A to Z
O …is for Oranges and Ornaments
Oranges
In several countries, it is a tradition to place an orange in a child’s Christmas stocking. Have you ever wondered what the meaning is behind this tradition? One explanation for this tradition stretches back hundreds of years to St. Nicholas, who was born in what is now present-day Turkey. He inherited a large sum of money, but devoted his life to helping others, and eventually became a bishop.
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According to the story, St. Nicholas learned of a poor man who wasn't able to find suitors for his three daughters because he didn't have money for a dowry. St. Nicholas traveled to the house, and tossed three sacks of gold down the chimney for each of the dowries. The gold happened to land in each of the girls' stockings which were hanging by the fire to dry. The oranges we receive today are a symbol of the gold that was left in the stockings.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, money was tight, and many families simply didn't have the means to buy gifts. Instead, it was such a treat, even a luxury, to find things like a sweet orange or some walnuts in your stocking on Christmas.
Some also offer the idea that fresh oranges were hard to come by, especially in the north, so finding one of these fruits in your stocking was a huge treat, and a way of celebrating the holiday.
Another theory behind the tradition is that December is the season of giving, and the orange segments represent the ability to share what you have with others.
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Oranges are also used as pomanders at Christmas. The word “pomander” originates from the French “pomme d’ambre.” A common interpretation of this phrase is “apple of ambergris,” referring to the wax substance used as a base in pomander recipes. Others take the phrase to mean “apple of amber” or “golden apple,” as in the fragrant citrus fruits exchanged during holidays for good luck.
The pomander became popular during the Middle Ages. Both men and women wore pomanders, most of whom hailed from the elite classes of society. Queen Elizabeth I is frequently depicted wearing one, as are other nobles and notables of the day.
As time wore on, the pomander began to take on the “golden apple” interpretation. Appearing first in England during the 17th and 18th century the decorated orange stuck with cloves was often mentioned as a Christmas or New Year’s custom. A pomander was more often than not an orange studded with cloves and other spices. These made for popular gifts during Christmas and New Year’s.
Many people make this type of pomander today in order to scent their homes and clothing.
The tradition of making the orange/clove pomanders migrated to the United States from England during Colonial Times and as oranges were rare and expensive items when available at all, apples, which were readily available were substituted for them with a similar effect.
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Ornaments
According to the historical records in the History of Christmas Tree Ornaments, the custom of decorating Christmas trees emerged in the early 16th Century in Germany. Martin Luther decorated the first Christmas tree with candles to entertain the children. During this time Christmas trees were embellished with wafers, candies, fruits, paper flowers, hard cookies baked in various shapes and tinsels made from tin and silver.
vintage-ornaments
Christmas trees along with the fanciful ornaments entered England in 1840 through the hands of Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert. Glass ornaments, decorative beads, paper baskets with sugared almonds and hot air balloons were used for decoration.Christmas Tree Ornaments reached America around 1880. F.W Woolworth, an American retailer first sold imported glass ornaments in his shop. Decorations also included cut outs of old magazines, cotton wools and tinsel. Not until 1939 and the outbreak of World War II did an American company begin the production of cheaper ornaments with new technologies.
Today ornaments are given as gifts each year and become family heirlooms and cherished collectibles.
Ornaments

I hope you will join me again tomorrow for more of the Christmas Celebration
Carolyn and the Bears

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