12 Christmas rituals: Origins of carolling, gift-giving and other fun festive traditions

Raffles Hotel is one of the few places in Singapore that still has stocks of live Noble fir Christmas trees, imported from Oregon in the US. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
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SINGAPORE - Christmas is here, and along with it, decorated trees, gifts, carols and gingerbread men. But what are the origins of the traditions, what do they have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ and why do people give presents?

The precursors of Christmas trees are evergreen ones such as douglas firs, spruce pines, cedar evergreens and cypress conifers which were used in pagan rituals to mark the winter solstice in December.

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