When Jack Frost starts nipping at  your nose, and you hear those sleigh bells jingling, then it’s the season to be jolly! Christmas represents a time of joy, gift-giving, and family. And, as the world becomes more of a global village, the Christmas holiday is now celebrated in many countries around the world. While the mode of celebration, dates, traditions and name may vary – that festive holiday spirit remains the same across the globe. Santa, stockings, egg nog, acts of kindness and the spreading of holiday cheer are, but just a few of, the most iconic Christmas traditions. Brew up a hot cup of your favorite ORGANO™ gourmet coffee (or tea) blend, put another Yule log on the hearth fire – let’s celebrate and discover the origins of Christmas traditions from around the world.

St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle and Santa Claus is Coming to Town & Down Your Chimney: St. Nicholas was a Bishop, who lived in the fourth century AD in a place now called – Turkey. He was a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who were in need, and thus was made a Saint. In the United Kingdom, particularly in England, St. Nicholas became “Father Christmas” (a character from old children’s stories), while in France, he was known as “Père Nöel” to most. In the early days, in the USA, his name was ‘Kris Kringle’ – but when Dutch settlers in the United States took the old stories of St. Nicholas with them – Kris Kringle became “Sinterklaas”, or as we now say “Santa Claus”!  Today, Santa Claus brings toys to all good little girls and boys, by way of his sleigh and down through the chimney – allegedly!

Poinsettia, The US Ambassador to Mexico & The Smithsonian Institution: The plant we know today as the poinsettia, has long and interesting history. Native to Central America, the plant flourished in an area of Southern Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon. The Aztecs used the plant to extracted a purplish dye for use in textiles and cosmetics. The poinsettia may have never become a global holiday mascot had it not been for the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825-1829) by President Madison. In 1828, Poinsett brought a red-and-green plant from Mexico to America, as its coloring seemed perfect for the holiday season. In 1870, New York stores began selling Poinsettias, after Poinsett, at Christmas time. And, by 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday. Amazingly, Mr. Poinsett would later go on to found the institution which we know today as … The Smithsonian Institution!

The Penny Post & The Hallmark of Christmas Cards: The custom of sending Christmas cards was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole (and his artist friend John Horsley), after the first “Penny Post” public postal deliveries began. Prior to that, only very rich people could afford to send anything in the post. The new Post Office was able to offer penny stamps due to the advent of new railways being built, which could carry much more than the horse and carriage method that had long been used before. Christmas cards appeared in the United States of America in the late 1840s, but it wasn’t until 1915 that John C. Hall (and two of his brothers), created Hallmark Cards – one of the largest manufacturer of greeting cards today!

Stockings Hung By The Chimney with Care & Christmas Carolers at The Front Door: The word “Carol” actually means to dance or sing songs of praise and joy. Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived. Caroling began in England, where wandering musicians would travel from town to town, visiting castles and homes of the rich, in hopes or receiving a hot meal or  money.  It wasn’t long before caroling spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries, at the beginning of the Christmas season celebrations.  “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there”, and that is why in the United States and England children hang stockings near a fireplace on Christmas Eve,  hoping that it will be filled with treats while they sleep. In Scandinavia, like-minded children leave their shoes on the hearth.

The spirit and joy of the holiday season is now officially upon us, and at the closing of another year, it offers us all an opportunity to look back (and reflect) on the memories and milestones of 2015. Stay tuned for “ORGANO™ 2015 Milestones & Memories – Worldwide”, where we will highlight some of the most epic moments, across the globe, of this passing year – as we ring in the new year of 2016! From the company that brings the treasures of the world, to the people of the world – the ORGANO™ Global Family – wishing that the holiday season bring you closer to those worldwide traditions – that will be forever treasured in your heart. #TasteTheGold.