How our ancestors’ Christmas traditions brightened our lives

“When I was a child, I remember my grandmother giving each of her grandchildren a large candy cane and $5 in an envelope. It didn’t matter how young or old we were, we all waited for and loved getting this gift at Christmas,” said Veverly Byrd-Davis of her grandmother who is now one of our ancestors.

Christmas traditions. The Good Genes Genealogy team recalls each Christmas receiving an orange or clementine, an apple, candy cane and bits of other candy in a small brown paper bag from our great-grandmother, Edna Robinson. Our dear ancestor made sure that each grandchild and children participating in the annual Christmas Eve pageant received the humble gift bags. It was a tradition born from the blend of African, European and indigenous Americans’ traditions.

First fruits

In Rwanda, African, a Christmas tree ornament honors the “first fruits” tradition of offering the food to symbolize the annual rich harvest. We hang the ornament — a handmade, miniature basket — on our Christmas tree to symbolize the African tradition.

Deeply rooted Christmas traditions

Slaves, the St. Nicholas traditions, the Great Depression and the Black churches all have a common bond related to the presenting of so-called Christmas fruit bags.

Share your Christmas memories

The Good Genes Genealogy team asks that you share your memories of holiday gifts. You may place them in this post and/or make them a part of your holiday discussions with family and friends.

Happy Holidays

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