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December 15, 2017
By Chelsea Reed
When the days are short and the weather is cold, people from many cultures find creative ways to have fun in the bleak midwinter. From Christmas traditions to winter activities, let’s take a look at four pieces of art that each share a unique story about the ancient winter traditions we still enjoy today.
1. Ice Skating
Did you know that the earliest known record of ice skating happened in Finland over 3,000 years ago? The first pair of ice skates was made from two simple wedges of bone strapped to the bottom of the feet. The first modern concept of two metal blades attached to the bottom of shoes (like the ones worn by Mickey Mouse) was invented in Holland around the 13th century, and they haven’t changed much since then. People from all walks of life have enjoyed ice skating throughout the ages. Scenes of ice skating were commonly painted by the Old Masters.
An old tradition of passing down oral history, caroling is a type of song that means to dance and sing with joy. This common practice by native pagans in ancient Europe gave way to Christian hymns by early churches. Carols were sung year-round, but the Christmas carols are the best preserved. Many carols such as ‘Good King Wenscales,’ ‘Silent Night,’ and ‘Deck the Halls’ continue to tell their timeless stories, much like this Lladro porcelain figurine. Which carol could this figurine be playing to?
Like the carols, the earliest Christmas trees were ancient European rituals transformed by Christian missionaries. The first concept of the modern Christmas tree began in the Renaissance period and became very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Candles, presents, and cookie ornaments would eventually give way to the lights and ornaments we adorn our trees today. This spool tree made by Carolyn Lloyd Swain, of course, is a unique interpretation. (And a great holiday gift!)
4. Santa Claus
Also known as Father Christmas and Kris Kringle, Santa Claus has a history almost as old as the Christmas holiday. Legend has it that a kindhearted monk named Saint Nicholas lived in modern-day Turkey in the 3rd century. He was especially known for giving his wealth to the poor and helping many children. In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” that popularized the modern Santa Claus who children all over the world eagerly wait for each Christmas Eve.
What are your favorite winter traditions? Do these pieces of art bring you nostalgic memories of days gone by? For more fun-filled winter art, contact us at Seaside Art Gallery! We’ll be glad to help you find that special piece of original art to add sparkle to your loved one’s gift this holiday season.
Chelsea Reed is a freelance copywriter. She writes articles, blogs, websites and online content from her base in North Carolina.
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