A Few Christmas Traditions
First decorated Christmas tree appeared in Germany in the 16th century. Evergreen trees symbolized strength because they lasted through cold winters, and many people believed they kept away evil spirits and illness.
The tradition of sending Christmas cards started in 1843 in England. Before then, greetings were written by hand, and it became almost impossible to send one to everyone you knew. The first card was illustrated by John Callcott Horsley. It had the phrase: "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You", and was sent by Sir Henry Cole. The idea of sending pre-made cards caught on quickly.
The tradition of hanging stockings by the fire started from a story told about a nobleman and his three daughters. They were poor and the father could not give dowries for his daughters to get married. St. Nicholas felt sorry for them and wanted to help out anonymously. He rode by their house on a white horse and tossed three bags of coins down the chimney, where they happened to be caught in the stockings that were hung there to dry.