Over the past century Americans have turned Christmas into a very expensive holiday. Richard Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing at Purdue University, estimated that Christmas-related expenses would cost Americans $800 billion in the year 2002.
The Christmas tree originally hails from GERMANY. Today it is a recognized symbol of the holiday in many parts of the globe. The earliest historical reference to decorated Christmas trees in German homes dates back to the sixteenth century (see also CHRISTMAS VILLAGE; ORNAMENTS).
One old Scandinavian Christmas custom is for the birds ... literally. Many Nordic families offer food to the birds at Christmas time. The traditional offering consists of a sheaf of grain placed on a pole, fence, or rooftop.
This five-petalled rose blooms around Christmas time and so acquired the popular names “Christmas rose,” “winter rose,” and “snow rose.” Although at first glance the flowers appear to be white, the petals also carry a faint hint of pink.
In such European countries as GERMANY, Belgium, Austria, Holland, SPAIN, Sweden, and ITALY, special outdoor Christmas markets flourish during the CHRISTMAS SEASON. Local merchants construct stalls in an open square or plaza and decorate them with CHRISTMAS SYMBOLS and themes.
In ICELAND thirteen leprechaun-like creatures known as the Jola-Sveinar, or Christmas Lads, visit homes during the CHRISTMAS SEASON. An old Icelandic legend tells us that they are the sons of a giant female troll named Gryla.