Christmas Green Rituals
Candle Mass Day on 2nd February was the traditional time to remove midwinter greenery, whereas few believed to take down the greenery on the twelfth night after Christmas Eve.
It was considered bad luck to leave the greenery for longer.
In the 11th century, Christmas greenery was burnt but by the 19th century, this practice became less popular.
It was a must to remove all remnants of greenery. Children especially had to take part in the activity of gathering all the Yuletide decorations.
Good luck followed those who found a holly bush loaded with berries, while removing Christmas greenery.
It is said that you will encounter a goblin for every pine needle which is dropped inside the house.
Christmas greenery should not be erected before the Christmas Eve, else it is supposed to be bad luck. Evergreens including the Christmas tree are not supposed to be brought inside the house.
Holly is supposed to have supernatural protective powers. It is supposed to be the best defense against witches and lightening.
It is said that it depends on type of Holly you bring in the house that who will head the house for the next year. If one brings in a prickly holly it is said the man will rule the nest and if it’s a smooth one then the woman will.
Ivy is considered to attract bad luck if brought inside the home, though on the contrary it is supposed to have protective powers when planted by the house.
Evergreen brought home from church are especially considered lucky and are supposed to be lucky. These should be hung inside the house all round the year to attract good luck.
It is also considered by some people if a pine needle is dropped inside the house or church then the person who takes it out is presaged to die within a year.
Christmas Decoration Superstitions
Most homes were decorated on Christmas Eve to avoid the anger of capricious forces.
No lights were put on before the first star appeared.
The tree should be brought into the house not before the 24th December.
Trees are decorated only after the children go to bed.
In Germany, the last ornament on the tree is a pickle shaped ornament. In the morning, the child who finds the Christmas pickle gets a special present.
Traditionally, the doors of the home were thrown open at midnight on Christmas Eve to let the trapped evil spirits out.
The Christmas candle was left burning in a window all night to enlighten the path of the good luck for the coming year to the household.
The first person to wake up on Christmas would shout into the street ‘Welcome Old Father Christmas’.
Sweeping the threshold was thought to clear out trouble for the next year.
Male visitors are preferred but red-haired men are thought to bring bad luck.
Lucky birds are welcome on Christmas and signify good luck.
The first person to visit the household should bring the evergreens or coals with him and gets the privilege to kiss all the women of the house. Men are served with a drink and something to eat while children are given lucky coins.
Decorations should be taken down on 12th day of Christmas Eve, whereas in some other countries the festivity of Christmas remains till the feast of the Grand Candle mass that falls around 2nd February.
An angel or star is placed on the top of Christmas tree which represents being the host of angels or the star of Bethlehem from the Nativity
Mistletoe, also known as Celtic-All-Heal was popular by the 19th century. Since the times of druids, it was associated with fertility and kissing.
Earlier, an ethical man was supposed to present a mistletoe berry for each kiss. When berries finished, so would the kissing.
Luck favors those who kiss under the mistletoe but turn against those who avoid it.
It is bad luck to take Christmas mistletoe down and should only be replaced on the following Christmas.
Unmarried girls used to steal sprigs of mistletoe from church decorations and hid them under their pillows as a charm to dream of their future husbands.
Burning old mistletoe was said to predict marriage prospects of an unmarried girl. Steady flames ensured happy marital life while the spluttering flames predicted bad tempered and cross husbands.
Although of Mistletoes is considered to be a healing plant but the berries are in fact poisonous and should not be touched by children.
It was believed that kissing under Mistletoe would lead to marriage of the couple whereas; if the girl standing under it was not kissed by anyone her marriage is not at all predicted in the next year.
In some parts of England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night lest all the boys and girls who have kissed under it never marry.
Holly and Ivy Symbolism
Christmas evergreens represent endurance while the berries represent resurrection of life. Since the 15th century, holly and ivy were essential part of Christmas decorations for church.
If the holly used for Christmas decorations is smooth, the wife will be master.
If the holly used for Christmas decorations is prickly, the husband is the master.
Prudent couples use both kinds of hollies on Christmas to assure balanced and harmonious home.
Holly was used as a protection against witches, evil spirits and thunder.
Holly leaves were scratched with the initials of the close admirers by the unmarried girls and sown into night clothing or kept under their pillow. It was said that it would bring them dream of their future husband. For this charm to be more effective, a borrowed wedding ring was worn on the third finger of the left hand.
Holly is regarded as a masculine plant and ivy a feminine one, hence, too much ivy is believed to bring bad luck.
A leaf of ivy was left in a bowl of water on Hogmany (New Years Eve) until the eve of Twelfth Night (Little Christmas) on 6th January. If it remained fresh and green a good year was expected. If it withered and had black spots by the end, ill health was prophesized.
It was must to remove all leftovers of greenery and children had to gather all the Yuletide decorations.
Good luck followed those who found a holly bush loaded with berries while removing Christmas greenery.
Holly leaves should not be removed from the Christmas decorations before Epiphany Eve (Jan. 5)