Do you ever wonder about the origins of the various things we do at Christmas? Candy canes, Christmas trees, and poinsettias are all part of a lot of holiday season. We’re sharing some cool facts about each of these traditions that we have found researching around the Internet. Check them out and each list of facts is followed up with a cool list of books that we have available for curbside pickup at our libraries. Be sure to click the links at the end of each fact for a fascinating article found online about the subject.
— Legends say that candy canes first originated in 1670 when a choirmaster asked for sugar sticks to quiet noisy children during a living creche ceremony at Christmas time — History.com
— It is believed that candy canes were originally all white when first produced. The stripes didn’t appear until around 50 years later (1720) when the red and white and striping started appearing in illustrations from that time period. — ThoughtCo.
— Candy canes were first believed to decorate a Christmas tree in 1847, when August Imgard, a Swedish-German immigrant first decorated a blue spruce tree with them — Time
— During the 18th century, candy canes were considered medicinal, meaning you could get them from your local druggist / apothecary. They were often made with sugar with added medicinal herbs in them — Salon
— Candy canes are the best-selling candy in the month of December, according to the National Confectioner’s Association — ManyEats
— Interesting factoid: at least one of our library staff members is NOT a fan of this candy, much preferring chocolate instead.
Here are some great books with candy canes that we have available at the library:
The Legend of the Candy Cane
One dark November night a stranger rides into a small prairie town. Who is he? Why has he come? The townspeople wish he were a doctor, a dressmaker, or a trader. But the children have the greatest wish of all, a deep, quiet, secret wish. Then a young girl named Lucy befriends the newcomer. When he reveals his identity and shares with her the legend of the candy cane, she discovers fulfillment of her wishes and the answer to her town’s dreams. Now will she share what she has learned? Warm, lavish illustrations by James Bernardin bring to life a timeless tale by Lori Walburg, a story that will help families celebrate the mystery and miracle of Christmas—for many Christmases to come. — Goodreads.com
Candy Cane Murder
‘Tis the season for trimming the tree, caroling, baking cookies, and curling up by the Yuletide waiting for Santa to drop down the chimney. But in this festive collection of holiday whodunits, murder is also paying a visit . . .
‘Candy Cane Murder’ by Joanne Fluke
Bakery owner Hannah Swensen feels a little stuffed in her elf costume-but it’s too late to count calories. Lake Eden’s annual Christmas gala is upon her and eager children are waiting. Wayne Bergstrom, owner of Bergstrom’s Department Store, happily ho-ho-hos his way through the festivities in his Santa suit. But when a trail of candy canes leads to his corpse in a snow bank, Hannah must find Kris Kringle’s killer. — Goodreads.com
Katie, the Candy Cane Fairy
Brilliant new fairy story book that will delight children and adults!Katie the Candy Cane Fairy is part of a singing troupe called The Candy Canes. They perform shows every Christmas, making their concerts extra-magical using their special canes!
As the show approaches, Katie discovers the magic stripes in the canes have gone! The Candy Canes struggle to make a magical show without their special candy canes, so they go in search of new ones. Will they find brand-new canes with magical stripes, or will they manage to shine without the use of magic? Find out in this adorable new storybook from the makers of Camilla the Cupcake Fairy! — Goodreads.com
— The first Christmas tree lot appeared in 1851 in New York. It was operated by a woodsmen named Mark Carr. — History.com
— Christmas tree tradition can be traced back to the Christians of the early 16th century. — Country Living
— The first image of a “decorated” Christmas tree appeared in an illustration of the home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the Illustrated London News in 1848 — Time
— The average Christmas tree takes 7 to 10 years to grow — Time
— In modern times, the National Christmas Tree Association has said that 82 percent of all Christmas trees in homes are artificial as of 2018. — National Christmas Tree Association
Here are some great books with Christmas trees that we have available at the library:
Monster Needs a Christmas Tree
It’s almost Christmastime, and Monster needs a tree. But the holidays are filled with joy and so many fun things to do! After snowballs, sleds, and Santa Claus, will he find a tree in time? In this festive, rhyming story, Monster shows young readers that with a little creativity, a tree can be perfect any way you look at it. — Goodreads.com
Inventing the Christmas Tree
A colorfully decorated Christmas tree, lit with twinkling lights, provokes awe and delight. We understand the lighted tree as a central symbol of the Christmas season, but what are the roots of the tradition? Who first thought to bedeck a tree, to bring it inside? How and where did the local activity grow into a widespread tradition, and how has the Christmas tree traveled across time and continents? Bernd Brunner’s brief history—enriched by a selection of delightful and unusual historical illustrations—spans many centuries and cultures to illuminate the mysteries of the Christmas tree and its enduring hold on the human imagination.
Tracing various European traditions from the Middle Ages forward, Brunner finds that only in the nineteenth century did Christmas trees become common in European family homes. In North America, the imported custom soon fascinated, though some found the tree not quite compatible with a Puritan mindset. Brunner explores how the Christmas tree entered mainstream American culture and how in recent times it has become globally popular. He introduces Jacqueline Kennedy’s Nutcracker Tree in the White House, trees used to celebrate the New Year in Turkey, and the world’s most expensive Christmas tree, erected in Abu Dhabi. The author also considers the place of the artificial tree and the ecological dimensions of the Christmas tree trade. A book rich with anecdote and insight, Inventing the Christmas Tree will enchant a wide audience — Goodreads.com
The Christmas Tugboat: How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City
Nothing says Christmas like a Christmas tree, and the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City has said it beautifully since 1931. But how does the tree get there? One year, the tugboat captain (and author) George Matteson, his wife, and their daughter traveled by tug to fetch the giant tree. This dramatic picture book tells the story of their real-life journey up the Hudson River, and James Ransome’s striking paintings capture the excitement of the trip and the pride of the young girl who helped steer the tug into New York Harbor. — Goodreads.com
— The reason why poinsettias are considered the Christmas flower stems from a Mexican legend. Read more here at Reader’s Digest
— There are more than 100 VARIETIES of poinsettias available in the world today: red, pink, burgundy, marbled, speckled, and more — University of Illinois Extension
— The origin of the Christmas poinsettia is fueled with conspiracy?!?! Who knew? Check out this really interesting article over at The Washington Post.
— The poinsettia is believed to have first been brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett, a botanist and ambassador to Mexico, in the 1820s. — Chicago Tribune
— December 12 is considered to be National Poinsettia Day. — thespruce.com
Here are some great books with poinsettias that we have available at the library:
Plants of Christmas
People use many plants to decorate their homes at Christmas, but the sources of these traditions are unknown to most. Hal Borland, a well-known nature writer, introduces the legends, symbolism and history of the traditional Christmas plants. 14 full-color illustrations. — Goodreads.com
Decking the Halls: The Folklore and Tradition of Christmas Plants
With so many customs and traditions during the Christmas season, we often do not pause to wonder and ponder about how and why they began. Of all the seasonal celebrations of the year, Christmas has more traditional plants with their accompanying legends and symbolism than any other season. Holly, ivy, mistletoe, the poinsettia, rosemary, the Yule log, and the most popular and recognized of all–the Christmas tree–each has its own fascinating legend and history. Drawing from Christian practices, along with ancient Druid, Celtic, Norse and Roman beliefs, Decking the Halls explores the history of our popular Christmas plants and flowers during this most holy season. — Goodreads.com
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning something new! Happy Holidays from the Scott County Public Library.