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Point & Click

Now that were smack dab in the midst of Christmas preparations, I wanted to take a step back, toss political correctness aside, and take a look at some well-worn holiday traditions.Why is it, for example, that we chop down a perfectly healthy evergreen, or assemble a fake one, stick it in our living room and put a bunch of ornaments and lights on it? People throughout time have worshiped trees, and the pine tree in particular, as a symbol of fertility, love, immortality, longevity and rebirth. Americans inherited this tradition from the Germans, who used to decorate fir trees with apples for a yearly Adam and Eve play. Now the Christmas tree has become one of the most popular symbols of Christmastime.We make lists of gifts, and check them twice, to give family and friends. But did you know it wasnt until the late 1880s that people started exchanging gifts at Christmastime? Christmas came and went without one trip to the shopping center or the Internet. Can you imagine? Are you just a little bit envious of those 1800-era folks? Just a little?Even our dogs and cats have Christmas stockings. So whats that about? This tradition is based on a story of a nobleman whose wife died. He was so devastated he blew right through his fortune, leaving his daughters without dowries, thereby destined to lives of spinsterhood. Wow. Glad life has progressed beyond this one. Anywho, good old St. Nick threw three pouches of gold coins down the chimney for the girls. Said pouches magically found their way to newly washed stockings the girls had hung by the fireplace to dry. Oh, OK. Do you make a point of avoiding that guy or gal at the office party just waiting to plant a big wet one on you under the mistletoe? Heres why we live with this ritual. According to Scandinavian custom, mistletoe is associated with Friggia, the goddess of love, which is where all the smooching comes into play. Mistletoe remains green during winter months since it reportedly lacks a root system, which makes it a popular cold-weather plant. And what about poinsettias? How come they seem completely out of season except during the holidays? This tradition comes from Mexico, and is based on the story of a small boy visiting his villages Nativity scene. He didnt have a gift to leave, so he picked poinsettias growing along the road, which blossomed into red. Candy canes were initially made in Europe in the 17th century to look like shepherds canes. When a Georgia candy maker made an automated candy cane machine in the 1950s, candy canes popularity went wild. And yes, the story of Rudolph is older than that cute 1960s animated TV show we have seen each year since the dawn of man (or so it seems). Montgomery Ward employee Robert L. May actually wrote the story in 1939, based on The Ugly Duckling and his own childhood experiences. Rudolph got even more popular in 1948 when a cartoon was released in movie theaters and Mays brother-in-law wrote the song. Gene Autry recorded it in 1949, and the 1964 TV special sealed Rudolphs fate. So, no matter what you believe or how you celebrate, Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings and have a holly, jolly end of the year.Thanks to allthingschristmas.com and howstuffworks.com for providing background for this column. Carrie Click is the editor and general manager of The Citizen Telegram in Rifle. Shes had a crush on Rudolph since she first laid eyes on him when she was 4.


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