10 Christmas traditions with surprisingly dark origins


  • Most Christmas traditions today are celebrated and loved.
  • Some of these traditions have dark origins, or once looked much different than they are now.
  • In the 1700s, carolers would sometimes break down doors and demand food and drink from residents.
  • And „The Nutcracker“ is actually a very disturbing story.

Christmas is a time of goodwill, harmony, and tradition. However, some of those traditions have exceedingly strange and dark origins.

Here are a few Christmas customs that you never would have guessed had strange or violent beginnings, or once looked much different than they are practiced today.

Good King Wenceslas was a real person who was stabbed and dismembered.

„Good King Wenceslas“ is a popular Christmas carol about a kind king who helps a poor peasant in a snowstorm. However, most people don’t know that the inspiration for the song was a real person who died horribly.

Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia was born in 907 AD. After the death of his father,  Vratislaus I, Wenceslaus was raised by his mother Drahomira, who was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief.

In September 935 AD, Wenceslaus was murdered on his brother’s orders. He was stabbed repeatedly with a lance while praying and dismembered in front of a church.

In the 1700s, carolers would sometimes break down doors and demand food and drink from residents.

Singing carols door-to-door may be an innocent holiday diversion today, but it was once a controversial and potentially dangerous practice.

In a piece for Salon, author and historian Thomas Christensen recounted how the carolers or „wassailers“ of the 17th century would arrive at homes unannounced and demand to be given the residents‘ finest food and drink. They would sometimes threaten violence and rape, destroy property, and sing songs with lyrics such as, „We’ve come here to claim our right/And if you don’t open up your door/We’ll lay it flat upon the floor.“

One minister in the early 1700s railed against the observance of Christmas, and especially the practice of caroling. He complained that caroling drove people to „Rioting, Chambering [fornication], and Wantonness.“

The Nutcracker is a surprisingly creepy tale.

The Nutcracker ballet is based on the 1816 story „The Nutcracker and the Mouse King“ by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann. In the original tale, a 7-year-old girl named Marie slices her arm open after being startled by a vision of her toy nutcracker coming to life. As she recuperates, her godfather, Drosselmeyer, tells her the tale of a man cursed with the ugliness of a nutcracker by a heartless queen.

When Marie eventually declares that she would love the Nutcracker no matter his appearance, she is whisked away into the doll kingdom to marry him. The two are wed within a year of meeting, even though that would make Marie 8 years old at the time of her marriage.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Source: Business insider

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