Christmas is a religious celebration commemorating the birth of Christ and is observed December ... more
Christmas is a religious celebration commemorating the birth of Christ and is observed December 25th each year. Religious observance of December 25th centered around worship services frequently held at midnight. Midnight Mass is celebrate at the place of Jesus’s birth in the ancient Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Other aspects of Christmas are offshoots of pagan celebrations and include the Yule log, Christmas trees, gift giving and lights. The phrase “Christmas tree” is first recorded in 1835 and is of German origin. The word Tannenbaum actually means “fir tree”. The popular image of Santa Claus created by the German- American cartoonist Tomas Nast (1840-1902) and by the 1920’s the image was widely used commercially by advertisers. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis and Christmas cactus. Christian tradition associates the holly tree with the crown of thorns, and says that its leaves were white until stained by Christ’s blood. A Christmas tradition that is widely televised and known to most people is the Rockefeller Tree. Each year millions of people visit New York to embrace the beautiful tree. On Christmas Eve, 1931, during the height of the Clutch Plague, workers at the Rockefeller Center construction site decided to pool their money together to buy a Christmas tree, a 20-foot balsam fir that they decorated with handmade garland from their families. Two years later in 1933, Rockefeller Center decided to make the tree an annual tradition and held the first official lighting ceremony with a 50-foot tree. During WWII, the tree’s décor switched to a more patriotic theme, with red, white, and blue globes and painted wooden stars. In 1942, no materials needed for the war could be used on the tree, and instead of one giant tree, there were three smaller ones, each decorated in one of the flag’s three colors. It was also the first year that the tree was replanted after the holidays. Though the tree typically makes its journey on a truck bed, in 1998 it received the royal treatment and was flown in from Richfield, Ohio on the world’s largest transport plane. The following year saw the largest tree in history, a 100-foot beauty from Killingworth, Connecticut. Following the 9/11 in 2001, the tree was once again adorned in patriotic red, white, and blue for the first time since WWII. In 2004, a 550-pound Swarovski star graced the top of the tree for the first time. Designed by German artist Michael Hammers, it features 25,000 crystals and one million facets and is 9.5 feet wide. Now, the infamous Rockefeller Christmas Tree averages 75 feet tall and contains over 50,000 rainbow LED lights.