Christmas traditions have stood the test of time - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Christmas traditions have stood the test of time

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German Lutherans started the Christmas tree tradition in the 17th century. German Lutherans started the Christmas tree tradition in the 17th century.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Carols were originally reserved for church processionals and had very little to do with Christmas until more popular seasonal songs were written.

It's not a coincidence that one of the most popular carols revolves around the Christmas tree. Tree traditions go back to German Lutherans of the 17th Century. Owning a tree became the height of holiday fashion after Queen Victoria's conifer was published in a London newspaper.

"We'll go get a big tree. We'll have the kids put the ornaments on. And then, we have a family get-together a week before Christmas and we try to give out some sort of presents," said Philip Timmerman of Sioux City.

What's the most modern tradition of all? That might be crowding the stores in the hours before Santa makes his way around the world. Many will be whizzing their way up and down the aisles looking for those last minute gifts. In fact, 60 percent of Americans had not finished their shopping as of Thursday. You can count Calvin Harlan as one of the 40 percent.

"We try to get our shopping done early, so that we can focus on the meal," said Harlan. "A lot of it has to do with prayer."

It's likely your Christmas traditions revolve around the dinner table.

"Grandma cooks lots of food, and we all eat, right? Yeah," said Clara Harlan of Jefferson, S.D.

From Figgie pudding to fruit cake food plays a big part. Here's a food fact to impress your family:  The first batch of eggnog was made at Captain John Smith's Jamestown settlement in 1607.

"Eat a lot of food, too much food and get a few pleasant things to drink and laugh a lot and play cards," said Shawn Watson of Omaha, Neb.

"We do have stockings at the house, so that's always fun to get those little stocking stuffers going," said Jan Utesch of Le Mars, Iowa.

The stocking tradition supposedly started in the 19th tradition, when St. Nicholas threw gold coins down the chimney, and inside the stocking laid out by the fireplace to dry, but perhaps the most important tradition of all this time of year is family.

"We open presents together on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas Day, my son and I open presents with my parents," said Maggie Kock of Omaha, Neb.

"Lighting candles at church, and of course, opening up all of the presents we get," said Grace Newton of Omaha, Neb.

"We go to our grandma's and then we come back home and then just spend time with our family," said Sydney Parks of Akron, Iowa

That tradition has stood the test of time.

Finally, there's the story of mistletoe. Celtic legend says the plant can bring good luck, heal wounds, increase fertility and ward off evil spirits.  

And of course, it provides an excuse to steal a kiss. The tradition of smooching underneath the mistletoe began in the Victorian era and was once believed to inevitably lead to marriage.

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