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5 Christmas traditions that aren't as traditional as you think

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 @ 4:46 PM

Here are six things you may not know about Christmas Dec. 25 wasn't the day when Jesus was born Early Romans used evergreen branches to decorate their homes in winter St. Nicholas dropped gold into the first Christmas stocking People used to open presents on New Year's Day, not Christmas Coca-Cola didn't come up with a completely original look Celtic Druids viewed kissing under the mistletoe as something that could restore fertility

Your Christmas traditions may feel like they've been around for a long time, but many aren't as traditional as you might think.

»RELATED:6 things you may not know about Christmas

They may have origins that go back for years, but, in many cases, they've evolved quite a bit. Otherwise, the popular image of Santa Claus might still be "Rough Nicholas" instead of the jolly figure we know today.

»Here are five Christmas traditions that aren't as traditional as you might think«

A man carries a gift-wrapped box on Christmas Eve 2016. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)(Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Gift-giving

Romans gave each other gifts during the Saturnalia, a pagan holiday, and the tradition carried over to Christmas. In colonial times in New England, the Puritans outlawed Christmas celebrations and the holiday remained in disfavor well into the 19th century, according to The New York Times. In the South, however, people kept up the traditional English Christmas revelry, a reminder that the region has always loved a good party.

When the country was mainly rural, gifts were modest and often consisted of food, sewn items and small pieces of woodwork. When the economy became more industrial-based, workers didn't have time to make their own gifts, so they bought inexpensive manufactured items.

The Rome's official Christmas tree stands in front of the Unknown monument in Piazza Venezia Square. Despite the tree's 600 silver-colored decorative balls, the half-bare branches lend the square a forlorn rather than festive look and critics note that across town, the Vatican's Christmas tree, from Poland, looks healthy.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Christmas trees

While the origin of Christmas trees is actually quite old, they were much different than the brightly-lit and decorated trees of today. In ancient times, people would hang evergreen boughs over their doors and windows to ward away evil spirits and illness, according to Country Living. Green palm rushes were also brought inside by ancient Romans as a reminder that farms and orchards would soon be producing crops. The Druids used evergreens as a symbol of everlasting life.

The modern Christmas tree emerged in 16th-century Germany, where Christians would bring trees into their homes. Some built wooden pyramids and decorated them with evergreens and candles. America was relatively late in adopting the Christmas tree, largely thanks to the fun-stifling Puritans, who fined people for hanging Christmas decorations. Trees became popular only in the 19th century as German and Irish immigrants brought the custom to America. Their popularity soared when popular royals Queen Victoria and Prince Albert celebrated with a Christmas tree.

Santa Claus Keith Carson, of the Believe in Santa Foundation, visits children during a Christmas in July event at Palm Beach Children's Hospital on Friday, July 25, 2014 in West Palm Beach. Fake snow floated through the hospital courtyard and Santa Claus went room-to-room to deliver presents. (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)(Madeline Gray/The Palm Beach Post)

Santa Claus 

The original depictions of Santa Claus were inspired by St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children and a magical bringer of gifts. After the Protestant Reformation, the baby Jesus took over as gift-giver, while Nicholas was often assigned the role of a scary helper who helped keep children in line. With names like Ru-klaus (Rough Nicholas), he was no longer seen as saintly but was instead threatening.

Kids in the Netherlands hung on to a saintly image of Santa (though with his own threatening helpers) and brought both to the New World. Writers and artists had a hand in gradually transforming Santa into a more modern version, giving presents to good boys and girls – and switches to their "bad" counterparts. Clement Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" depicted a plump, jolly Santa, but he still varied from tiny to huge. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast then created a version of Santa that's much like what we see today.

Christmas celebrations 

Think your family's Christmas celebrations get out of hand? History.com says that Christmas used to be a lot rowdier than most family gatherings are today. The church really didn't have the ability to decide how it was celebrated, so Christians attended church and then cut loose with a drunken celebration that's been compared to today's Mardi Gras.

The poor would visit rich people's homes and demand the best of their food and drink. If the rich turned them down, they might become the victims of mischief, courtesy of the poor. It all sounds a little more like Halloween's tradition of trick or treating than Christmas.

Clara and her nutcracker prince are coming back to life on the Ballet Austin stage this holiday season for the troupe’s rendition of “The Nutcracker.” Contributed by Anne Marie Bloodgood(American-Statesman Staff)

The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky's “Nutcracker” ballet seems as though it's been performed for as long as anyone can remember, but it's newer to the U.S. than you may think. Although it premiered overseas just before Christmas in 1892, according to Nutcracker.com, it wasn't until 1944 that the ballet was staged in the U.S. First performed here by the San Francisco Ballet, T”he Nutcracker” wasn't especially popular until George Balanchine staged it in New York City in 1954, where it became a hit.

Today the ballet is performed in cities large and small. For many people, watching a performance of The Nutcracker is a Christmas tradition for the entire family.

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Celebrate Father's Day with these 10 so-bad-they're-good dad jokes

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 9:01 AM

Father's Day - By the Numbers

Happy Father's Day!

>> Father's Day 2018: Where can dad eat free, get a discount on meals?

Twitter users around the world are using the hashtags #DadJokes and #FunnyThingsDadsSay to celebrate their dads with baffling wisecracks and head-scratching words of wisdom.

>> Read more trending news 

Check out 10 of the best-worst jokes below:

1. "I've always had an irrational fear of speed bumps. But don't worry, I'm slowly getting over it." – @DaddingAround

2. "Why did the coffee go to the police? It got mugged." – @NPR

3. "It's not a dad bod. It's a father figure." – @chrismakespuns

4. "Was going to go to the new restaurant in space. Heard their food is great, but there is no atmosphere." – @MatBest11x

5. "Two peanuts were walking down the street. One was a salted." – @Fawcett_Matt

6. "If a short person waves at you, is it a microwave?" – @First_Jimothy

7. "I knew a guy who was addicted to drinking brake fluid. He said he could stop anytime." – @HouseofBoodles

8. "How do you find Will Smith in the snow? Look for the fresh prints!!!!" – @ProducerEddie

9. "That cow is amazing. ... She's outstanding in her field." – @GuyMcPerson309

10. "You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose." – @Johnsense38

Father’s Day 2018 Deals and Freebies

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Twins born Memorial Day weekend celebrate 'cookout style' in adorable costumes

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2018 @ 7:22 AM

Twins Born Memorial Day Weekend Celebrate "Cookout Style"

Twins born at Pittsburgh's Washington Health System Washington Hospital over Memorial Day weekend were dressed to impress.

>> See the photo here

Posted by Washington Health System on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

The hospital wrote on Facebook: "We know everyone was honoring the brave men and women that have served and sacrificed for our country on Memorial Day with cookouts and spending time with family. Even our newborns were celebrating 'cookout style' over the weekend!"

>> See the full post here

We know everyone was honoring the brave men and women that have served and sacrificed for our country on Memorial Day...

Posted by Washington Health System on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Read the original story here.

Soldier Gets To See Family For Memorial Day Weekend Thanks To Stranger’s Kindness

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

Trending - Most Read Stories