Posts Tagged ‘tradition’


Antique thanksgiving postcard. Postmarked 1911, Kelly Station PA.

I was about to post a thanksgiving antique postcard on my website, http://www.rememberwhenpostcards.com, when I thought, “why not read the message?”  Lucky I did, as I discovered a reference to something I hadn’t heard of before – a leap year party.  The message read as follows:

“Hello Orga:  Robert and I were up at Crisnans last night playing cards.  John is well so far as I know but he is very sorry he didn’t get telling you good bye.  We are having a Xmas entertainment at Brick Church  We are going to have a leap year party and mebby someone will get John.”

According to folk tradition, a woman was granted the privilege of proposing marriage to a man, instead of the other way around, only during leap year.  If the man refused, he owed the woman compensation in the form of a gown and kiss, or gloves – provided she was wearing a scarlet petticoat.  Sounds vaguely like the tradition of the Sadie Hawkins dance.

The “ladies privilege” tradition explains the reference to “getting John”.  Poor John.  I don’t think the socially acceptable venue of a church party will help John.  I hope he had an account at the local millinery (clothing) store.

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Santa Claus Vintage Christmas Postcard

1915 Santa Claus Postcard with Gel Finish & Gold Trim

The time of year where we prepare for and follow Christmas traditions has arrived.  Ever wonder wonder what’s behind these traditions (i.e. like the hanging stockings as pictured in this vintage christmas postcard of Santa Claus)?

Christmas Stocking Legend

A poor father was in despair as he could not afford the dowries needed for his three daughters to marry.  One night the daughters washed out their stockings and hung them over the fireplace to dry.

St. Nicholas of Myra, a 4th century bishop, heard of the father’s despair and decided to pay a visit.  Late at night, riding his white horse (this must be a Dutch version, see Santa Claus Rides in Dandy Motorboat ) St. Nicholas stopped by their house.

Seeing the stockings through the window, St. Nicholas climbed on the roof and tossed three full bags of gold coins down the chimney.  The bags fell into the hanging stockings.  His unselfish gift made it possible for all three daughters to marry.

 My Christmas Stocking Tradition

When I was growing up, my sisters and I hung our stockings (knitted in green and red with our names at top) on the back of the bookcase facing the kitchen.  We didn’t have a fireplace.  Every year, we would get either an orange or apple, nuts, and Christmas taffy.  I still hang a stocking.  My adult daughter fills it (I fill hers).  Most years, an apple or orange finds it way into both our stockings.

The above vintage christmas postcard of Santa Claus is from my personal collection.  I found it cute that Santa was sooo little in comparison to the hanging stocking.  More Santa Claus and christmas postcards, with festive holiday graphics, can be found in my store.

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A good number of Santa Claus postcards in my personal postcard collection and many I have sold, picture Santa Claus carrying a tree.  Some trees were decorated, some not.  So, I wondered what was up with all those trees on postcards. 

Turns out it was a German custom to place an Evergreen tree at a house’s entrance as part of their midwinter holiday.  Decorating them was part of a Christian New Year tradition initially designed to ward off the devil. 

More recently, the Christmas tree came from a custom in western Germany called a Paradise Tree.  The Paradise Tree was decorated with apples, cookies, and candles.  The Santa Claus postcards below show such a tree.  Since many antique and vintage postcards were printed or made in Germany, it makes sense that many Santa Claus postcards included trees.

Santa Claus Trees_0002

German vintage Santa Claus postcard from my personal collection.

Santa Claus Trees_0001

Silk antique Santa Claus postcard with undivided back.















Feel free to look at other Santa Claus, children in footed pajamas, and May Farini postcards from my personal collection on my web store’s gallery page.

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