A pine decorated with lights, balls and colors. Next to it, a shed with the nativity and a ox and a donkey warming the baby. “Christmas”, tells Mary Ellen Case, “is a state of mind”.
As tradition says, and rigorous on the 8th of December, lights turn on, trees get decorated, creche is prepared… houses get colored with a family atmosphere, with happiness touches, getting full on a joyful warmth. It seems that Martin Luther saw iced trees in the forest during the Christmas Eve night. The moon magically made them bright and he was so touched that he decided to create the same thing in his own home. From here it born the tradition of Christmas decorations and lights.
But Christmas comes from the Latin Natāle for diem natālem Christi (day in which Christ born). On the 25th of December, in fact after a long wander, Jesus born in a shed in Bethlehem. Nowadays, in order to remember this joyful moment, all catholic countries set up the crèche, from the Latin “Praesepe”, so literally stable, manger and it represents a reenactment of the Jesus nativity more realistic than possible. Its creation is conferred to St. Francesco in 1223, but it catches on in the fifteenth century directly leaving from the kingdom of Napoli, today still know for the magnificence of its various statues. In eighteenth century, under the reign of Carl the 3rd, we have the birth of the Figurinaio, the creator of the statuettes.
Always in middle age born the tradition of the Christmas tree, but this more in the northern countries. In pagan rituals, it was used to celebrate the switch from autumn to winter decorating pines in front of houses. It was habit as well to burn a huge log, preferably of oak, and depending on how it was burning it was possible to know the trend of the coming year.
Ancient Romans, themselves, used to give sprigs of pine tree for good omen, a wish of goos luck. For the druids the pine was symbol of life and this symbology is recalled by Christians, for whom the tree becomes Christ or symbol of life or again of good and evil.
But the first Christmas tree as we know it is of the seventeenth century and it has been introduced by the Duchess of Brieg who asked, after she decorated all the castle, to bring a pine tree inside in order to cover a corner which in her opinion remained bare.
Under the Christmas tree are unmissable the presents brought, only to good and nice children, by Santa Claus. This bobby, bearded, funny old man, wearing red, every night between the 24th and the 25th of December breaks through the skies with a sled towed by Comet, Dancer, Dasher, Prancer, Vixen, Donder, Blitzen, Cupid and Rudolph, his famous reindeers, and then descends from the fireplace with its heavy sack full of gifts for adults and children to put under the tree. It is said that he lives at the North Pole, at Rovaniemi, and that a squadron of elves help him to pack the gifts getting prepared for the big night!