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Superstitions About Christmas

Superstitions About Christmas

Christmas is one of my favourite family celebrations. As a French-Canadian, I grew up with a sense of tradition that especially focused on this time of year. My mother still starts shopping in January for next year’s Christmas. So when our team was asked about when to take down your tree, we had to look up the rest of the superstitions around Christmas….

I have been looking for the right answer to this question. I have always heard that If you take your Christmas tree down before Jan 1st. You will have bad luck for the rest of the year. My sister who lives in another state has always heard that if you leave your tree and any of your Christmas decoration up till the first you would have bad luck. She takes everything down before Jan 1st. I take them all down after the first of the year. Which of one of these superstitions would be correct. Or if you have any input please let me know. Thank you, Tracey

The actual belief is that all trees should remain up through 12th night. That is the 5th of January -in fact do not take down until the 6th. There is no bad luck attached at all have – I have friends that do it all ways and their luck doesn’t vary. Not to worry take it down any time you want. V

While Christmas for me and my family has always been a time to pull out the old decorations – and to celebrate the old traditions and family rituals, it has never been associated with any particular superstitions…. so I was very surprised to find that there are a LOT of funny beliefs, many contradictory, around this festival. Here’s what we found…

On being born at Christmas

from 1525

Yef that day that Cryste was borne. Falle upon a Sunday ..
what chylde that day borne be, A grete lorde he shalle be

Yf Crystemas day on Monday be ..
They that be borne that day, I wene,
They shalle be stronge eche on and kene..

Yf Crystmas day on Tuysday be ..
Alle that be born there in may se,
They shalbe stronge and covethouse..

Yf Cyrstmas day the sothe tosa, Fall uopn a Woydnysday
What childe that day borne ys, He shall dowghte and lyghte i-wysse..

Yf Crystmas day on Thursday be,
What chylde that day borne bee, He shalle have happy ryghte well to the,
Of dedes he shalbe good and stabylle; Of speche and tonge wyse and reasonabylle..

Yf Crystmas da on Froday be,
The chylde that ys borne that day,
Shall long lyve and lecherowus be aye..

Yf Crystmas on the Saterday falle ..
chyldren that e born that day,
Within a halfe a yere they shall dye, par fay.

From 1787 comes the supersition that children born on Christmas eve or Christmas day cannot see spirits. And from 1878 the belief that if you were born on Christmas day you could never be drowned or hanged… by 1957, these old beliefs had evolved to simply state that a child born Christmas day would be lucky in life…

Welcoming Father Christmas

In 1878 we hear that “It is lucky to be the first to open the house-door at Christmas….:saying ‘Welcome Father Christmas’.

On Christmas morning, the first to come downstairs was expected to take a broom, set wide the front door, and sweep ‘trouble’ from the threshold.

Working on Christmas

1793: Nothing but unavoidable work, such as tending cattle, is ever thought of all Christmas time… If any one was found by the Fidler and his men at work on the Twelfth day he is mounted on a stang (a pole), carried to the ale-house, and pays a quart of ale. Women are carried in a swill (barrel) and pay the same.

1883 The horses might not go to plough during the whole twelve days (of Christmas); nor might any spinning be done; and the distaff, set aside, was not uncommonly dressed with flowers.

Christmas Cake

1832 A portion of the yule-cake must be reserved for Christmas Day; otherwise… the succeeding year will be unlucky. A similar fatality hangs over the plum-cake provided for this occasion, unless a portion of it be kept till New Year’s Day.

1855 Yule-cake is not to be cut before Christmas Eve on any account.

I still start my Christmas baking, as Mom does, weeks before… but the “rule” always was that none of this was taken out before Christmas Eve – unless of course there was some special Christmas celebration in the few days preceeding…. but I don’t recall any particular superstition associated with this tradition… in a large family like ours, it always just made sense… if the goodies weren’t hidden or at least tucked away somewhere, they would be all gone by Christmas!

Christmas Candle

1817 The yule candle, a tall mould-candle, is lighted and set on the table. It would be unlucky to light it before the time…. The candle must not be snuffed, and no one must move from the table, till supper be ended.

1855 Christmas eve at length arrives… the candles are not to be snuffed the evening through, for that would be unlucky perpetration…. Our host is reminded to save a bit of the yule candle for good luck.

1883 at Christmas 1882 we had yule-candles, a gigantic pair, one red, one blue, presented by our attached grocer – for yule- candles must be given – and not bought.

1895 A candle or lamp must be kept burning all night on Christmas Eve, Unless this is done there will be a death in the house. It was usual for the grocers in Yorkshire to present their customers with candles at Christmas. They were made for the purpose, and were burnt on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Decorations

1873 I was told, in Rutlandshire, the other day, that it is very unlucky to bring holly into a house before Christmas Eve.

1912 Mistletoe is never brought into the house before New Year’s day; to do so would be unlucky.

1057 – Holly must be burned, a dead man’s legacy divided. Good fame is ever best.

1883 – The cottagers never allowed the evergreens to be thrown out of doors, as, if so, a death would certainly happen in the house before next Christmas. They were therefore burnt on Candlemas Eve…. but at Shrewsbury and other counties it is considered exceedingly unlucky to burn them, a thing not to be done on any account.

1947 Hibbyn as hollin (ivy and holly) were kept up on the walls until Shrove Tuesday and then used for frying the pancakes…

1879 The holly and ivy that have adorned churches at Christmas time are much esteemed and cherished. If a small branch of holly with the berries upon it is taken home and hung up in the house, it is considered sure to bring a lucky year.

Taking Christmas Decorations Down

1648 ‘Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve’ Down with the Holly, Ivie, all, Wherewith ye drest the Christmas Hall: That so the superstitious find. No one least Branch there left behind: For look how many leaves there be Neglected there… So many Goblins you shall see.

1864 If every remnant of Christmas decorations is not cleared out of church before Candelmas-Day there will be a death that year in the family occupying the pew where a leaf or berry is left. An old lady whom I knew used to send her servant on Candlemas-eve to see that her own seat at anyrate was thoroughly freed from danger.

1923 If you keep up Christmas decorations after the Twelfth Night it’s bad luck all the year.

1986 I really worry if I haven’t cleared away every trace of Christmas by Twelfth Day – decorations, cards, everything.

FYI: Candelmas Day is Feb 2, Groundhog day – the middle of winter, amrks the close of the Christmas season. The Twelve Days of Christmas traditionally begin the day after Christmas Day, now known as Boxing Day, and end with Twelfth Night . Twelfth Night is the evening of the 5th January and all day of 6th January ( Old Christmas Day).

The Yule Log

Stirring the Fire during supper
1817 It would be unlucky to stir (the yule log) during the supper.

1923 You must not stir the fire during supper on Christmas Eve if you wish to be lucky.

Keeping a Piece of the Log
1648 Kindle the Christmas Brand and then Till Sunneset, let it burne; Which quencht, then lay it up agen, Till Christmas next returne. Part must be kept wherewith to teend the Christmas Log next yeare; And where it is safely kept, the fiend can do no mischiefe (there).

1910 If the last fragment of the (ashen) faggot, partly burnt, was placed in the stall, it would keep the cows from all harm or disaster.

1910 Christmas Eve we brought in the Yule Log… It is the custom to keep a small fragment of last year’s log to light that of the next year. If this was not done, the old folk thought that their house would catch fire. Of course, I do not believe this… but one year… the fragment was accidentally burnt. rather strangely, our chimney caught fire the same year.

Christmas Pudding

1861 Stirring the Christmas pudding. Everyopne should do this ‘for luck’.

1883 Every young woman in each household should help to stir the Christmas pudding if she has any wish to be married during the ensuing twelve months.

1978 Everyone stirred the enormous bowl of Christmas pudding mixture, making a wish for each month in the year.

So, there you have it, a day steeped in tradition like Christmas, is also steeped in superstion it seems… Check out our superstitions about Halloween, Valentines’ Day and New Years!

If you’re feeling stuck in old patterns, old beliefs and ideas, Get a Reading. Our psychics may have the insight you’ve been reaching for….

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