The Legend of the Christmas Stocking

What's behind the holiday tradition of hanging hosiery on the fireplace?

Holiday card design, 195-?. Frederick Hammersley papers, circa 1860s, 1890-2009

Handmade Christmas Cards Sent By Famous Artists to Their Friends

Original designs from artists over the years to celebrate the holidays


Pet Store Refuses to Sell Impulse-Buy Puppies for Christmas

Too many animals end up on death row, one Australian pet shop says, so their shop will not sell kittens or puppies around Christmas time


Your Christmas Tree Helps Fight Climate Change

The key for trapping carbon lies in the soil, rather than the trees.


Your Guide to Selecting the Best (or Is It Worst?) Ugly Christmas Sweater

Holiday cheer with a touch of nostalgia celebrates garish knitwear from the 1940s to '80s


We Don’t Know the Origins of the Candy Cane, But They Almost Certainly Were Not Christian

There are a lot of explanations floating around out there about the candy cane—but almost none of them are true


Playlist: Eight Tracks to Get Your Holiday Music Groove On

A roundup of holiday classics and some new alternatives for a festive season

Popcorn and cranberry chain

Five Ways to Deck Your Halls With Food this Christmas

There are lots of ways to use goods in the pantry to make your digs a little merrier

Christmas in the future as imagined in the 1981 book "Tomorrow's Home" by Neil Ardley

Santa’s Trusty Robot Reindeer

A special visit from the Ghost of Christmas Retro-Future

Riflemen Andrew and Grigg (center)—British troops from London—during the Christmas Truce with Saxons of the 104th and 106th Regiments of the Imperial German Army.

The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce

It has become a great legend of World War I. But what really happened when British and German troops emerged from their trenches that Christmas Day?

If you don't want to show an misformed Moon on a Christmas card, a full moon is a safe option

That Moon On Your Christmas Card

An astronomer finds that depictions of the Moon on Christmas cards, wrapping paper and books is often wrong

Back in the day, according to Ivan Day, one of England's most esteemed food historians, selection was surprisingly great.

How to Eat Like a King for Christmas

Using antique technology and vintage cookbooks, food historian Ivan Day recreates such Tudor and Victorian specialties as puddings and roast goose

Mistletoes evolved the ability to grow not on the roots of trees, but instead on their branches.

Mistletoe: The Evolution of a Christmas Tradition

Why does this parasitic plant remind us of romance?

Don’t Stop Believin’ (in Santa Claus)

Shirley Temple drops some knowledge on a Christmas tradition

Photos: The Scariest Santas You'll Ever See

Browse our selected illustrations of some of the strangest and creepiest Santa Clauses ever put down on paper

Consider food—and food-themed gifts—this holiday season.

Last Minute Food-Themed Gift Ideas

Food, jewelry, toys and books for those hard-to-shop-for people on your gift list

In Robert Walter Weir’s c. 1838 canvas of St. Nicholas (detail), perhaps influenced by a Washington Irving story, the painter envisioned both an enigmatic trickster and a dispenser of holiday cheer.

A Mischievous St. Nick from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The 19th-century artist Robert Walter Weir took inspiration from Washington Irving to create a prototype of Santa Claus


How to Keep the Needles on Your Christmas Tree

Putting up a live Christmas tree can be a lot of work


The Stories Behind Forgotten Holiday Treats

Recipes, like songs and poems, are passed down from generation to generation. But some holiday recipes seems to have fallen through the cracks

George Frideric Handel (at age 64 in 1749) produced works, including Messiah that dazzled even the musical titans who would succeed him.

The Glorious History of Handel's Messiah

A musical rite of the holiday season, the Baroque-era oratorio still awes listeners more than 250 years after the composer's death

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