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Decking the Halls: The Folklore and Traditions of Christmas Plants Hardcover – September 1, 2000
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Once upon a time, long, long ago, on a magical, mystical night, the world changed. The magic of Magi and the mysteries of the mystics could not compare with the wonder of that night. It was a night when legends tell us that stars fell from the sky to become the flowers that we know as buttercups encircling the manger in a glow of golden color, a night when ordinary weeds became majestic, brilliant flowers to honor the Son of God, and a night when animals spoke. It was a simpler time, when science and technology did not explain away the magic and mystery of the unknown, when faith and belief in the incredible were all that were needed in the face of the unexplainable. Today, we decorate our homes, yard, streets and businesses with lights, candles, greenery accented with red, Santa Claus, and ornaments in all shapes, sizes and colors. We honor our friends and families with special gifts for the season. but why do we do these things year after year? Of course, the ob! vious reason for Christians is to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. But many of our seasonal traditions and customs have been borrowed from ancient cultures and practices that existed before the birth of Christ, thus making modern-day Christmas a truly multiculural celebration that unites all mankind in a cosmic celebration. Could this possibly be the real meaning of the Nativity experience?
About the Author
Linda Allen is an international cultures, business and education consultant with over 25 years of experience in the education and international communities. Allen teaches intensive Spanish language classes, presents cultural training and seminars, and travels frequently in Latin America for trade, education and humanitarian projects. She served as the coordinator of Culture and Language Resources at Oklahoma State University until 1999.
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Did you know that the color green symbolizes eternal life or that many of our Christmas traditions involving plants come from the Ancient cultures of Druids, Celt, Norse, and Roman? The first chapter tells the basics of the Christmas plants heritage and where our traditions first started. In the second chapter, we learn the history at the mistletoe and how it became Oklahoma's state flower. In the next chapter, the story of the Christmas tree, how it was used in ancient traditions. The fourth chapter explains the circle of life, or as we know it, the wreath and what it symbolizes. The next two chapters tell us about the European tradition of the Yule log and the holy holly. I found it interesting that again the Christian church condemned a plant because it was used in pagan rituals, only to later lift the ban. This little package with a big story to tell also mentions the poinsettia and it's heritage from Mexico, the rosemary and how it was used in the middle ages, the Christmas Rose, which isn't really a rose at all, cinnamon, which was native to India, Peppermint, the universal symbol of Christmas, and of course the cranberry and it's functional history.
What a delightful read! I came away filled with the knowledge of ancient cultures, history, and beliefs that surround the plants I put out every Christmas. Some of the Information Linda Allen provides I am aware of, but the largest percentage I was not. I will not only look at this season's plant differently, I will also share their stories with those who will listen and tell them where I learned it all.