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Top 10 Traditional Holiday Decor Items (and Where they Came From)

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Pumpkins and Gourds

Pumpkins and gourds are used in many types of displays to celebrate the colors and harvests of autumn.
Pumpkins and gourds are used in many types of displays to celebrate the colors and harvests of autumn.
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At first glance, you might think this entry missed the boat; Halloween and Thanksgiving fall ahead of the traditional holiday season. But connoisseurs of natural décor know that pumpkins and gourds make excellent additions to seasonal decoration.

Most varieties of gourds don't ripen until the end of the harvest season, just before the first frosts of winter. Early farmers storing the gourds for winter food had an ample supply of attractive décor items, and the practice of using them in fall celebrations only makes sense. In fact, one could argue that the reds, oranges, golds and browns of the autumn color palette owe their popularity to fall gourds.

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Most gourds have edible fruit or seeds, and using them in place of canned pumpkin or summer squash can add a unique fall twist to favorite recipes.

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Sources

  • Banks, Adelle M. "The fine and folk art of Christmas." The Washington Post. Dec. 20, 2009.
  • Chicago Tribune. "Odd Holiday Traditions: Caganers." 2009. (Oct. 21, 2010)http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/ct-caganer-pg,0,3838936.photogallery
  • Daniel, Hugo. "Pictured: The world's biggest Christmas light display... Shoppers in Beijing wowed by 250m long screen showing festive images." The Daily Mail. Dec. 21, 2008. (Oct. 23, 2010) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1099454/Pictured-The-worlds-biggest-Christmas-light-display--Shoppers-Beijing-wowed-250m-long-screen-showing-festive-images.html
  • Davis, Carolyn. "A Hanukkah tradition, past and present." The Philadelphia Inquirer. Dec. 19, 2008.
  • Davis, Tanya. "The Origin of Christmas Stockings." DoItYourself.com. 2010. (Oct. 18, 2010)http://www.doityourself.com/stry/christmas-stocking
  • Duffy, Peter. "A Little Nativity Scene in Bensonhurst, and How It Grew Over the Decades." The New York Times. Dec. 14, 2008.
  • History.com. "History of Hanukkah." 2010. (Oct.18 2010)http://www.history.com/topics/hanukkah
  • Hong Kong Tourism Board. "A Symphony of Lights." 2007. (Oct. 22, 2010) http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/attractions/kln-symphony-lights.html
  • Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum. "History of Nutcrackers." 2009. (Oct. 18, 2010) http://www.nutcrackermuseum.com/history.htm
  • McCoy, Heath. "Many Christmas traditions rooted in pagan rituals: trees, giving of gifts, mistletoe do not have Christian beginnings." The Ottawa Citizen. Dec. 24, 1999.
  • McSmith, Andy. "What's behind Christmas traditions -- and just how traditional are they? The big question." The Independent. Dec. 24, 2008.
  • Saunders, William. "The History of the Advent Wreath." Arlington Catholic Herald. 2000. (Oct. 18, 2010)http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0132.html
  • Unvala, J.M. "The Origin of the Pine-Cone Decoration of the Imamzadehs of Khuzistan." Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. 1929.
  • University of Illinois Extension. "Pumpkin History." 2010. (Oct. 18, 2010) http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/history.cfm
  • Vann, Mick. "Fruitcake." The Austin Chronicle. Nov. 28, 2008. (Oct. 22, 2010) http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A707110
  • Wales on Sunday. "The strange history of traditions around the world." Nov. 22, 2009.

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