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History center event celebrates traditions of Christmas
Six-year-old Haley Norris puts the finishing touches on an angel Sunday during Family Day at the Northeast Georgia History Center in Gainesville. The Family Day event centered around Christmas traditions. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The Northeast Georgia History Center brought a new light to Christmas traditions during their monthly Family Day.

"Cherish the Old, Embrace the New" focused on the origins of several beloved aspects of the season, from candy canes to the Christmas pickle. An assortment of craft projects were set up for the adults and children to enjoy, each designed to incorporate a different tradition.

"Everything that we're making has some root in tradition," explained Julie Carson, education and volunteer coordinator for the History Center.

"There's the history of Santa for the Santa photos, little elf pots, and so on," she said. "Some of these crafts are not traditionally what you'd put on the tree, but that's the part where you can embrace something new."

A board at the back of the room told stories from around the world of how some traditions began.

In Germany, a pickle ornament would be hidden amongst the tree branches the evening before Christmas Eve. The first child to find the pickle would either be given an extra gift or be allowed to open his or her gifts first.

Another German and Ukrainian story is The Christmas Spider, which claimed that the spiders, who hid in the attic during Christmas cleaning, snuck down to admire the decorated tree, but left webbing behind on the branches. When St. Nicholas arrived, he turned the webbing silver, and since that night, the Christmas trees have been trimmed with tinsel.

The English tradition of kissing under the mistletoe was formerly a rite of marriage. In later centuries, it was thought if a girl was not kissed beneath the mistletoe, she would not marry in the year to come.

Choices in decor were not the only traditions explained. Christmas carols originally began as pagan songs celebrating Winter Solstice, which usually occurs around the 22nd. The first Christmas carol was written in 1450, but nothing remains for the song.

The Enota Show Choir and Gainesville High School's Crimson Chorus provided a wonderful medley of classic and revamped tunes to ring in the holiday season. Santa Claus himself even stopped by.

Old or new, some traditions will forever be favorites. For Page Thompson and Johnathan Mixon, Christmas morning can't be beat.

I love getting presents," Thompson said.

"Reading Christmas stories before bed is my favorite," said Alexander Mixon.

The Northeast Georgia History Center hosts Family Day the second Sunday every month from 1-4 p.m. For more information, visit