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Transcript of Happy Holidays
According to the popular Christmas carol, what should you give your true love for Christmas?
The first artificial Christmas trees were made with dyed goose feathers by the Germans.
Can you fill in the blanks to this song?
You know ___________, and Dancer, and ________, and Vixen, Comet and __________, and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all? _________
Have you ever wondered why Rudolph's nose is red?
Evergreens, symbols of rebirth and eternal life, got their name from the Old English words "aefie" which means "always," and "gowan" which means "to grow."
Ever wonder why there's a hype about evergreens at Christmas?
The practice of using evergreen trees evolved from the pagan use and worship of evergreens during the winter to protect them from evil spirits.
Holly and mistletoe were also thought to have magical powers to ward off evils.
Needles and cones of evergreens were also burned as incense to infuse the air with the protective spirits in the evergreens.
Ever wondered where the "X" in "Xmas" comes from?
Now you know!
Early illustrations of St. Nicholas depict him as stern, commanding, and holding a birch rod. He was more a symbol of discipline and punishment than the jolly, overweight elf children know him as today.
The traditional three colours of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ; and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
In Germany, Heiglabend, or Christmas Eve, is said to be a magical time when the pure in heart can hears animals talking.
The first Christmas tree decorations recorded were apples. The apples were put on the trees by medieval actors to decorate paradise trees during the "Paradise Plays" performed during the Christmas season to depict the creation and fall of Adam and Eve.
Every year, in December, male reindeer shed their antlers. So, even though Santa's reindeer have male-sounding names, their pictures really depict them as females.
Santas around the world
Despite having different names and versions, all the Santas have a common origin - Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas desired to give money to people without them knowing about it, so, he climbed the roofs and dropped bags of money down the chimneys.
Legend would even have it that one bag landed in a stocking a girl had placed to dry by the fire - hence the tradition of hanging stockings every Christmas Eve.
Poland: Swiety Mikolaj
Russia: Ded Moroz
United Kingdom: Father Christmas
Belgium/France: Pere Noel
Brazil: Papai Noel
Chile: Viejo Pascuero
China: Dun Che Lao Ren
Today Julenissen is very similar to the North American Santa Claus but delivers the presents to children himself, not by sneaking in through the chimney at night. He evolved from the general role of Nissen who was a protector of the family farm who repaid families with the respect he felt they deserved. Nissen expected to receive sour cream porridge (today he prefers rice porridge) with butter on top on Christmas Eve set out in the barn.
Although he is becoming more and more like the North American Santa Claus, Mikulas has his own traditions still celebrated. Traditionally, boots are left out on windowsills on December 6 for Mikulas to fill with treats. He has two assistants who go out on December 5: 1) an angel who gives gifts (fruit, candy toys) to good children, and 2) a mean elf who punishes bad children (giving them wooden spoons or coal). Interestingly, as no child is pure good or evil, most get a good and bad gift.
A more recent addition to German holiday characters, Weihnachtsmann appears to be a combination of St. Nicholas (who resembles a bishop and travels house to house to give gifts accompanied by a band of ragged, devilish companions who scare children) and Knecht Ruprecht (originally an evil punisher of bad children who turned into a kind gift-giver).
Jultomten is a plump gnome with a white beard and red cap. For most of the year he hides in dark corners of the house and comes out Christmas Eve to place gifts in various nooks around the house. It is customary to leave him offering of porridge and milk, sometimes even liquor and tobacco, to soothe his fickle moods.
Joulupukki, literally translated means "Yule Goat." One idea of Joulupukki is that he is an old man who turns into a goat on Christmas Eve. Now, however, Joulupukki is much like North America's Santa Claus, except he lives in the Korvatunturi mountains (in the north of Finland), knocks on the front door during Christmas Eve celebrations, and his reindeer cannot fly.
Hoteiosho was originally one of the seven gods of good fortune. Now he also functions as a Japanese Santa Claus.
He carries gifts to each house in a linen bag and is rumoured to have eyes in the back of his head - so children are encouraged to act as if he is around!
The Christian children are supposed to hang stockings for Dun Che Lao Ren to fill with gifts and treats.
Historically, it was tradition for children to fill their shoes with carrots and treats for Pere Noel's donkey (Gui, French for "mistletoe") and leave them by the fireplace.
Traditional gifts for good children were typically small enough to fit in their shoes.
Perhaps he could be called the precursor of the North American Santa Claus. Father Christmas is jolly, old, has white hair with a beard and a mustache, wears a red suit with white outlines and lives he North Pole with his elves making toys.
Like Santa Claus, Babbo Natale gives gifts to children at Christmas, but Babbo Natale is skinnier and less jovial looking.
A more traditional gift-giver is Befana, a witch. Befana gives treats to the good children and coal to the bad on the eve of the epiphany. Families would leave her wine and a few bites of food.
Italy: Babbo Natale
Translated as "Old Man Frost," Ded Moroz fills a role similar to Santa Claus. While wearing a heel-length fur coat, a semi-round fur hat and black boots (often
- felt boots), Ded Moroz delivers his gifts in person. Originally, Ded Moroz was a cruel sorcerer, freezing people and kidnapping children in his sack. With the introduction of Orthodox religion though, Ded Moroz became much gentler. Then, with the introduction of western civilization into Russian culture, the importance of having Ded Moroz as their own cultural symbol was increased. As a result, Ded Moroz with his companion, his granddaughter Snegurochka, fights off the evil, gift-stealing Baba Yaga during the winter holiday season.
Traditionally on December 6, dressed as a bishop, Swiety Mikolaj would visit children and give them gifts for being good.
Papai Noel is believed to live in Greenland. As well, since it is very warm in Brazil at Christmas, it is suspected he wears light silk clothing. Every Christmas Eve, children leave out their shoes. Papai Noel fills the shoes and also leaves gifts hidden around the house.
Viejo Pascuero strongly resembles the North American Santa Claus. However, instead of going down chimneys, he climbs in through windows.
2 Turtle doves
5 Golden rings
9 Ladies dancing
11 Pipers piping
12 Drummers drumming
Scientists in Norway suggest it is because of a parasitic infection in his respiratory system.
In Greek, Christ is symbolized by "X."
Why celebrate Christmas on December 25?
The ancient Babylonians believed the son of the queen of heaven was born December 25.
The ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of Isis (their fertility god) on December 25.
The Arabs believed the moon was born on December 24.
Saturnalia, a feast named after Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) was celebrated on December 21. A day that is also the winter solstice in the western hemisphere, the shortest day of the year, which the Romans believed to be the day the sun was born.
It has been suggested December 25 was chosen in an attempt to make it easier to convert pagans to Christianity. Even similar language was used. For example, Jesus was referred to as "the light of the world," which fits with the idea of the sun being born.
Don't worry about it! Eat pine needles instead!
Pine needles are edible and have been found to be good sources of vitamin C.
Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory of the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
This year, Hanukkah started in the evening of November 27 and ended the evening of December 5.
Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights, because of the lighting of a candle every night of the holiday.
Kwanzaa, held December 26-January 1, has its roots in the black nationalist movements of the 1960s and was established as a holiday to urge African-Americans to unite in reconnecting with their heritage.
There are seven principles to Kwanzaa
1) Umoja (Unity)
2) Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
3) Ujima (Collective work and responsibility)
4) Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
5) Nia (Purpose)
6) Kuumba (Creativity)
7) Imani (Faith)
In some places, New Year's Eve is more celebrated than Christmas. Traditions vary from place to place.
- Celebrating the feast of Saint Sylvester on December 31;
- Symbolically representing the end of the old year and the dawn of the dawn of the new; and
- Celebrating in ways very similar to Christmas traditions except with the festivities being on December 31 instead of December 25.
Don't like fruits and vegetables?
4 Colly birds
3 French hens
1 Partridge in a pear tree