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Renaissance Christmas

If you think about it the tradition of cutting a tree from the forest, or better yet, buying one from the local Walmart, and then dragging it inside to cover in bright lights and small brick-a-brack it is a somewhat strange one. Who was it that decided to bring the outside in for the first time? It was possibly the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther during the Renaissance period. As the tale goes he was walking through the forest one night before Christmas and looked up to see the stars shimmering through the tree branches. It was so breathtaking a sight that he returned home with a tree to tell his children it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas. He placed small candles on the ends of the branches to resemble the shining stars.

During the Renaissance period Christmas was a much more solemn event than it is today. It was a day devoted to reflection and prayer, celebrated with a special mass called the “Cristes Maesee” or “The Mass of Christ.” The biggest celebration of the season was actually celebrated on what was called Twelfth Night. It was the night before Epiphany, twelve days after Christmas, when the three Wise Men found the newborn Christ child and presented him with gifts. The tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas is believed to be a continuance of the gifts bestowed upon baby Jesus on the night of his birth. The Twelve Days of Christmas begin the evening of December 24th and last until Epiphany, January 6th. During the Renaissance period the official end of the Christmas holiday season was Twelfth Night and was the traditional day for taking down Christmas decorations.

While a Renaissance Christmas was somewhat more somber than the Christmas Christians think of today, there were yule logs and feasts, dancing and singing, and of course the exchanging of gifts. Are you looking for the perfect Renaissance gift to give to that someone special? Here at Pearson's Renaissance Shoppe we have the perfect high quality Renaissance attire to bring some of that old world magic into your holiday season!

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