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The Origins of Some of Our Favorite Christmas Traditions

As you begin to plan your Christmas festivities, have you ever wondered where these Christmas traditions got their start?

History of Egg Nog

This sweetened milk and egg beverage, whether spiked or not, is a Christmas staple served at many holiday parties and family gatherings. It is widely believed that egg nog comes to us from Britain, where it may have originally been a curdled milk drink served warm. According to The History Kitchen, this beverage would have been enjoyed mostly by the wealthy as milk and egg prices were often expensive. When settlers arrived here in America, the necessary ingredients were much easier to acquire and much cheaper to enjoy.

Learn more about the origins of egg nog from PBS’s The History Kitchen.

christmas traditions candy canes in a jar

Candy Canes

This popular, peppermint-flavored hard candy has two competing stories of its origin. The fact-checking website unverifiable mythos of an unnamed Indiana candymaker that transformed a plain, white candy stick into the cane shape we know today. It’s suggested the hook represents Jesus as being the letter ‘J’ or a shepherd’s staff. The red striping he added is also symbolic, representing the blood of Christ.

A second story credits the candy cane to a German choir director in the late 1600s who used the treats to subdue restless choir kids. Yet these stories are unverifiable.

Find out more at

giving christmas presents under tree

Giving Christmas Gifts

The tradition of giving and receiving presents at Christmas may have its start with the Three Wisemen bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new baby Jesus. But the story of St. Nicholas, a bishop well known for his generosity, may actually be more closely related to our Christmas gift giving. Over the last several centuries, St. Nicholas has inspired what we know as ‘Santa Claus’ today. Read more about St. Nicholas here.

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