GERMANNA_COLONIES-L ArchivesArchiver > GERMANNA_COLONIES > 2003-12 > 1070323767
From: "JaSEn" <>
Subject: Re: [GERMANNA] Early Christmas Traditions of our ancestors.
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 19:09:27 -0500
My husband's family is German - arriving in America about 1840 and I have a
few favorite sites that I have gleaned information from each year -
Hope you enjoy them........
----- Original Message -----
From: "Craig Schenk" <>
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 4:50 PM
Subject: RE: [GERMANNA] Early Christmas Traditions of our ancestors.
> > Since they came from Germany, we know they had and probably have
> > traditions than ours, be interesting to compare!
> You mean you dont think they crowded shopping malls, put up tacky plastic
> ornaments and ate junkfood from October through January? Really though,
> only are "our traditions" in 21st century America different from what they
> in Germany, but the traditions in both countries today probably are a good
> deal different from what they were in the 1700s. German Christmas is (or
> least was in the early 1980s when I was there) somewhat more traditional
> SEEMING than what we have in the US, but that probably isnt entirely true,
> for no other reason than people in the 1700s were on average less well off
> than in modern Europe and the celebrations of the non-elite probably were
> pretty simplistic and short compared to the month or so of Weinachtsmarkts
> blocking off kilometers of city streets today.
> The Christmas customs of 18th century America were also probably very
> today's practices. For example, when was the last time you used fresh
> your dominant tree ornament? I suspect shiny glass balls and shopping
> would probably confuse anybody from 18th century Virginia regardless of
> their country of origin was.
> The modern Christmas tree custom itself is of German origin - although as
> discuss in a moment, its likely much older than written records indicate.
> Legend is Martin Luther began the custom, but that's not really held up by
> real evidence... however the earliest documentation for the custom seems
> of Lutheran origin, so it seems likely the Germanna Lutherans probably had
> trees. In England the first Christmas trees didnt show up until Victorian
> times, but there is documentation that the custom had spread in America in
> early 1700s because of the Pennsylvannia (and presumably Virginia)
> This was reinforced by the Hessian troops during the war against Britain.
> while the English English didn't adopt trees widely until later, the
> English did. Since the custom in America began with the Germans, chances
> that all early colonial Christmas tree customs were pretty similar,
> of whether it was in a German, English, Scottish, or other home... much ro
> dismay of fir trees throughout the land.
> As far as other non-tree customs, you'll have to ask someone else. Other
> the Christmas tree I dont know much on the subject, with one exception...
> that is the association between the colors red and white, reindeer, and
> Christmas. The origin of this traces to the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
> mushroom is widely regarded as a deadly poison, which its relatives A.
> and A. phalloides are. In the case of muscaria though, its a psychoactive
> mushroom which was widely used in prehistoric European religions and is
> used by Siberian traditional shamans (as well as certain Great Lakes area
> Native Americans - perhaps a trace of evidence of the fact that the
> came over from Siberia). The mushroom is the famous red-with-white-spots
> mushroom seen in Disney cartoons as well as in traditional German
> ornaments. In Germany to this day it is considered a good luck charm and
> called glueckspilz, or "lucky mushroom." It is a pretty popular food for
> reindeer, and in Siberian indigenous beliefs the animal and mushroom are
> associated. One could speculate on the red and white color of the mushroom
> the colors associated with Santa Claus, as well as the association of
> with both Santa and mushroom. Furthermore, the Amanita muscaria mushroom
> only in a mycorrhizal relationship with fir trees, and its fruiting cycle
> usually starts in the late fall and runs through late December. Its quite
> probable that Santa Claus, reindeer and the Christmas tree are echoes of
> ancient pre-Christian soltice customs. As an aside, this mushroom is
> used as an edible food mushroom in Russia and occasionally in France. The
> psychoactive chemicals are water soluble, so if boiled in water and
> you're left with a simple food product. A related mushroom, Amanita
> is a popular non-toxic and non-psychoactive (not to mention expensive)
> mushroom in Italy, and as implied by the name was a favorite food of the
> emperors. It is perhaps most famous as the favorite meal of Claudius,
> wife killed him by serving him a dish of Amanita caesarea mixed with the
> poisonous relative Amanita phalloides.
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