Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Myths and Legends

My favorite stories with a Christmas Give Away

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Our family has much to celebrate in the month of December in addition to the birth of our precious Savior. We have a granddaughter who gets us started on November 30, and from them on it’s been one birthday after another, including one on New Year’s Eve.

The stories and legends that surround Christmas have fascinated me since I was a child and heard them from my grandparents. Grandpa was of German origin and always had a story to tell, especially about Christmas. I want to share two of my favorite ones with you.

My grandparents were always quick to let us know as we grew older that the stories were just that, stories and not fact, but I loved them anyway. The first one is the Legend of the Candy Cane.

A candy maker decided that his plain white, hard candy sticks needed something extra for Christmas. He took the cane and used the white to symbolize the Virgin Mary and the sinless nature of Jesus. Then he bent it in the form of  a J to represent the name of Jesus. Next he stained it with 3 red stripes to 
represent the beating Jesus received, and one thicker one to represent the blood He shed. For him , the candy cane now represented his Savior so dear. He made the candies and spread them around so that we could remember the great love Jesus had for us all and that His love remains even today. I always think of this story when I see the red and white peppermint canes. Even if the story isn’t true, the story of Jesus is.

The second legend has to do with the animals talking on that Holy Night. Jesus was born in a cave used as a stable for the innkeeper’s animals. Jesus birth is said to have happened right at midnight, and that as Mary wrapped the baby in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, God gave voice to the animals and they immediately began praising God for this great miracle they had witnessed. Several minutes later the shepherds appeared and the animals went silent. The only humans to hear those voices were Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child.

The Animals’ Christmas Eve
In the barn on Christmas Eve, after all the people leave,
The animals in voices low, remember Christmas long ago.
One small hen, upon her nest, softly clucks to all the rest:
“Little chicks, come gather near. A wondrous story you will hear.”
The Animals’ Christmas Eve, a Little Golden Book, by Gale Wiersum and illustrated by Jim Robison.

The poem is from an old Golden Book I found in our sons' things in the attic. This legend persists today in Scandinavia, and wide-eyed, expectant children creep out to the stables at midnight to hear the animals praise God. Adults scoff, but the children believe. And who of us who believe in an omnipotent God can say it really doesn’t happen?

I’ve always loved both of these stories, and even incorporated the one about the animals into a short story.
What is your favorite Christmas story or legend? Many abound about this special holiday season to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’m going to send a copy of my Christmas book, Christmas at Holly Hill to a lucky winner whose name will be drawn after midnight, December 14. Please be sure to leave your email address with your comment, so we can contact you.  

Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009 and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and attending football, baseball, and basketball games when one of the grandchildren is playing or performing. She is a member of several writing groups.  A former Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She has written two series as well as several other novels and novellas. The first book in her new series, Love Stays True, released in June, 2013. Learn more about Martha and her family at her website by clicking on her name in the column to the right of our blog. 


  1. My favorite Christmas story is Luke 2 - we've read it as a family every year and it didn't take long to memorize - now as I have children it is fun to recite it to them so they learn it as well. thanks for the chance to win. looks like a wonderful christmas book! truckredford(at)Gmail(dot)Com

  2. My favorite legend is the story of the Candy Cane. I love it. We have made book markers at Christmas time and given them away with the candy canes that have the three stripes. Not all are made that way now. angelmom1165(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. I, too, love the Candy Cane story. When I hang one of the canes on the inside of my cup of coffee and let it melt, it's a constant reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season. Great post, Martha. Thanks.

  4. I love Christmas stories and these legends you have shared. I recently learned of the story behind the legend of Rudolph and found it so heartwarming!

    Robert May was a poor copywriter in Chicago, living in a shabby two-room apartment. His wife Evelyn was suffering from cancer and was bedridden for two years and all his earnings and savings went into her treatment. It was then, when on a December night, his four year old daughter Barbara asked him, "Why isn't my mommy just like everybody else's mommy?" The heart touched Bob's heart like a glass splinter. All his life, he had been 'different', weak and delicate as a child and just a lowly copywriter for Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house, as an adult. He was thirty-three years old at the time and was already deep in debt, depressed and sad. However, he made up a story for her to placate the child and inspire her to be optimistic. The story was that of Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world with a big shiny red nose.

    The story so pleased Barbara that Bob decided to draft it into a poem as a Christmas gift to her. The poem was called 'Night Before Christmas'. When he was still working on the verses, Evelyn died. Yet, Bob kept his courage up for the sake of his daughter. He recited it in one of his office holiday parties in 1938 and won spontaneous applause. The booklet with crude illustrations that he had prepared for his daughter became so popular that by 1947, 6 million copies had already been circulating around and Rudolph was in great demand for sponsoring products. Bob May naturally became a very rich man. Since then, Rudolph has occupied a permanent niche in the Christmas legend.
    - Excerpt taken from World of

    Thank you for sharing this post, Martha, and for the opportunity to win a copy of your Christmas book!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com


  5. The Legend
    The mystical power of mistletoe, and the tradition of kissing under this plant, owes its origin to the legend of Goddess Frigga and her son Balder. Frigga was the Goddess of Love and her son, Balder, was the God of the Summer Sun. Once, Balder dreamt of his death. He was obviously worried and told his mother about the strange dream. Frigga was worried not only for the life of her son but also for the life on Earth because she knew that without Balder, all life on Earth would come to an end. Thus, she did her utmost to avoid such a mishap by going everywhere and appealing to every being in air, water, fire and earth, to promise her that they would never harm her son. She was promised the safety of her son by every animal and plant under and above the Earth.

    However, Loki, the God of Evil, who was an enemy of Balder and always had evil designs in his mind, was aware that there was one plant that Frigga had overlooked. It grew on apple and oak trees and was known as Mistletoe. Thus, Loki made an arrow and placed a sprig of this plant at its tip. He then beguiled Hoder, the blind brother of Balder and the God of Winter, and made him shoot this arrow at Balder. Balder immediately died and everybody was worried as the Earth turned cold and life became dreary. For the next three days, every creature tried to bring Balder back to life but he was revived only by Frigga and with the help of mistletoe. Her tears on the plant became pearly white berries and she blessed it such that anyone who stands under the mistletoe would never be harmed and would be entitled to a kiss as a token of love.

    1. I've heard bits of this legend. Thanks for sharing the full story. I love to hear about the legends of different cultures and how some of them have worked their way into ours.

  6. I've always loved The Gift of the Magi. It was a book my mom gave me one Christmas after I graduated high school - every year she gives my brothers and I a "children's book" that have all been special to us all our lives! Thanks for a very heartwarming post Martha. These were all legends I had never heard of before and now I think I'm going to have to hunt down a copy of The Animal's Christmas Eve to give to my nieces and nephews! Merry Christmas Martha!

  7. I hope I'm not too late for the giveaway! I've always loved the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds. What a wonderful vision that must have been!

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

  8. I have a paperback book that I picked up 20 years ago that is titled The Story Of Christmas by Beverly Rae Wiersum
    it doesn't have a date and it tells about Joseph and Mary and why we celebrate Christmas. I love the simplicity of it and have shared it with my grandchildren every year.
    I also love the Legend of the Candy cane. I honestly never heard about the animals talking. Great article Thank you
    Merry Christmas

  9. I love the Legend of the Candy Cane. The Animals’ Christmas Eve sounds good and I have never heard this one.
    Y'all have a very Merry CHRISTmas.
    Karen G.

  10. I would love to win your Christmas book! Sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  11. I don't have a legend and my favorite story is The Christmas Story from The Bible. A precious story!! I enjoy your books, Martha. Thank you for the opportunity to enter this giveaway and please enter my name.
    Barbara Thompson

  12. Hello Martha. Enjoyed your article. My favorite is the story of Jesus found in the book of Luke in the Bible. I had heard that this candy cane story was true a long time ago. I just this week heard of the talking animals, but have not read this in the Bible. I would love to win your book as a gift. Please put my name in the drawing and if I should win, please use the email in my comment. Google has messed me up by changing lots of my sites which I had established long ago. In fact I had never used my gmail email address one time. To get in one site.
    MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

  13. Looks like a very precious Christmas book to enjoy and share. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.