Holidays are steeped in traditions, but some of them vary depending on where you live, where your ancestors hail from, and how much you enjoy following trends.
Elf on the Shelf is a very young tradition, introduced right here in Georgia, in 1974 by Carol V. Aebersold, as a way to entertain her three young children in the days leading up to Christmas. The elf, named Fisbee, would hide in their home each night and return to the North Pole to report to Santa on the children’s behavior. Three decades later, Carol, and one of her twin daughters, Chanda, co-authored a book (illustrated by Coe Steinwart), and held their very first book signing in Marietta, thanks to marketing expertise of Christa (the other twin)! Today, the Elf on the Shelf is a popular tradition around the world, with more than 17 million “scout elves” hiding in homes in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (And folks are getting quite creative in how and where the scout elves hang out!)
Christmas Pickle is a tradition of mysterious origins. Some stories place its beginnings in Germany (although the majority of Germans polled had to be told of the “tradition”), while others credit American company Woolworth’s, the first store to feature glass pickle ornaments on their Christmas tree displays in 1890. Either way, tradition suggests that one pickle ornament is hidden within the branches, and the first person to find it on Christmas morning receives a special gift.
Yule Goats, a Swedish tradition, is thought to originate to pay homage to Tanngrisnir and Tanngjnoster, the pair of goats who, according to Nordic tales, pulled the sled of Thor. According to the story, Thor would dine upon the goats each evening, and every morning they would rise to pull their master’s sleigh once more. Modern Yule Goats are straw ornaments, decorated in red ribbons, and hung upon the tree; but older traditions required that larger straw goats be erected, then someone would sneak up and burn the giant goat!
Icelandic Book Food or Yule Book Flood (Jólabókaflóðið), is an Icelandic tradition in which folks purchase books published in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and exchange them on Christmas Eve. Icelanders snuggle in front of the fire, sip hot cocoa, and read their books until the wee hours of Christmas morning. While some date this practice to WWII’s restrictions on gift items shipped to Iceland, historians have found evidence of its practice dating back more than 1,200 years!
At Windsong, each neighborhood is its own little slice of tradition, with homeowners bringing their customs and culture, and sharing it with everyone. So don’t be surprised if you see a glass pickle on someone’s tree, an elf peeking out from the top of the fridge, and perhaps a red ribbon-bedecked straw goat standing proudly on the front porch, illuminated by reading lamps long into the night.
Welcome to Windsong, Where Life’s A Breeze!