A consideration of the origins and symbology of popular motifs appearing at xmas.
There is a marvellous mish-mash of traditions evident.
Of the 19 items below the jump, I found:
Four partly or wholly christian
Eight pagan (see Right)
Note: I do not like and generally do not use this term, because it has a pejorative flavour, and is used by Christians to denote any other (and thus by implication inferior) religion but their own. It smacks of cultural arrogance of the worst kind, and is closely akin to the Roman word "barbarian", which has root meaning related to babble, and pejoratively refers to anyone whose language is unintelligible, and by implication, inferior, not proper speech.
In Northern Europe he was blended with aspects of Odin and Yule, a midwinter event, whence the flying through the sky, the beard and the bringing of gifts.
He was not invented by the Coca-Cola company.
There is a full and interesting page for Santa/St. Nicholas at Wikipedia
Did you hear about the upside-down Santa? OH OH OH
The "Jingle Bells" song title is a command, Jingle!
Also see Odin & Santa.
"According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime."
Alternatively, it is identified with the "tree of paradise" of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.
Note: They even have a xmas tree at Bethlehem, v strange.
And confusedly, ribbon trees seem to be popular in the USA. Note the ribbon colours, see next entry.