The celebration of Christmas is full of inventions and innovations. Not all innovation has to be an invention or product. Innovation can be an idea or a series of ideas. The very concept of Christmas, I think, is a genius innovation. It’s a marketer’s dream, wrapped up as a sentimental holiday celebration. Here is the origin of some of those Christmas inventions and innovations, and a couple of new ones.
- Santa Claus – The jolly guy in the red suit and white beard actually derived from the Dutch figure Sinterclaas, which derived from the giver of gifts, Saint Nicholas. The American version of Santa Claus was created in the early 1900’s, but Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, goes back seven hundred years ago. In 1881, cartoonist Thomas Nast, elaborated on a Christmas Eve poem written by a minister, and gave us the first pictures of Santa’s reindeer and elves at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus.
- Christmas Caroling – Some of the first carols were sung during the Winter Solstice. Pagan songs turned into Christian songs and eventually were all sung in Latin. But most people couldn’t understand them and by the Middle Ages caroling was losing some of its popularity. Then St. Francis of Assisi started putting on nativity plays with new carols people could understand. Eventually people started singing these carols in the street, and the modern version of Christmas caroling as we now know it continues to this day.
- Christmas tree – The Christmas tree was started in 16th century Germany when Christians decorated their homes with them. The idea of putting lights on the trees came from protestant reformer Martin Luther, who came up with the idea one night while he was walking home composing a sermon. He looked up at the stars twinkling through the evergreen trees. He wanted to capture the beauty for his family, so he rigged a tree with wires on the branches with lighted candles. The candles were eventually replaced by Edison’s bulbs, and later by inventor Albert Sadacca, whose family made novelty products. These were a very safe version of the bulbs, which we still use today.
Here are a couple of new Christmas innovations:
Designers Fabio Milito and Francesca Guidotti came upon their Wordless wrapping paper discovery after Christmas, when they realized they couldn’t use leftover Christmas wrapping paper for other occasions. They ended up combining wrapping paper with a card and out of that, the word search just came naturally.
Mark and Tammy Bulleit from Santa Clause, Indiana, got the idea for Santa Clause telegrams after having a conversation with their local postmaster. More mail was coming into the town in the month of December than all other months combined. So, they decided to use their creativity and start a telegram from Santa business. Now children all over the world can get their own personalized letters from Santa, straight from the town that was named after him.
What do you think will become the next Christmas invention or innovation?