Dec 212015
 

Gold and silver play a part in many Christmas traditions. Of course, gold was presented as a gift to the baby Jesus, but have you heard this story about the origins of Christmas stockings?

Christmas Stockings

According to the ancient tale, the Bishop of Myra, in Turkey, was a wealthy man who gave gold coins to the less fortunate. Being a shy person, he wanted to be as discreet as possible, so he threw a purse of gold coins down the chimney of a poor girl, which landed in a pair of stockings that she’d hung out to dry!

The Bishop was none other than Saint Nicholas. As word spread of his generous deed, others started hanging their stockings by the fireplace. Over time, the practice became popular and today children can’t wait to hang their stockings for the coming of Santa Claus – the modern day Saint Nic!

SantaHat-coins

Here are some more delightful Christmas customs in which gold and silver play a role.

Christmas Pudding

Originating in Great Britain, the discovery of a silver coin in a slice of Christmas pudding was said to provide health, wealth and happiness to the finder. The traditional choice was a silver sixpence, or a threepence.

The practice may have originated from the age-old custom of Twelfth Night Cake which was baked with a bean hidden inside and sometimes topped with a golden crown. Whoever found the bean was crowned Lord of Misrule until midnight!

Plum puddings were traditionally made on the Sunday ‘next before Advent’, which is four to five weeks before Christmas. This special Sunday became widely known as ‘Stir-up Sunday’. We now know about the amazing antimicrobial properties of silver, which makes the addition of an old sixpence to the mix a very wise choice!

Tinsel

Tinsel was originally made in Europe from silver that was hammered paper-thin and then sliced into strips. These strips were attached to a thread with the idea that they emulated icicles of the cold northern winter.

The word tinsel probably derives from estincele, the old French word meaning ‘sparkle’. Before the 16th century, it was used to decorate sculptures, but was later added to Christmas trees to enhance the flickering of candles. More’s the pity, but modern tinsel is generally made of plastic.

Boxing Day

During the middle Ages, Advent was a time for churches to display alms boxes into which parishioners could donate silver and other coins. The boxes were opened the day after Christmas – hence the name Boxing Day – when the coins were distributed to the less fortunate.

In Victorian times, servants who were required to work at Christmas took the following day off to visit their families. As they prepared to leave, their employers would present them with Christmas boxes of coins and other gifts.

These days, Boxing Day is a public holiday enjoyed by (almost) all. But did you know it’s also St Stephen’s Day. Its charitable roots are reflected in the popular carol Good King Wenceslas, which tells the story of a Czech king going on a journey in harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant “on the feast of Stephen”.

Chocolate Coins

ChocolateCoins

The custom of giving chocolate coins covered in gold foil to children has been intertwined with Christmas traditions for hundreds of years and can be held to symbolise the gift of gold given by the Three Wise Men. Today they are popular stocking fillers and Christmas tree decorations – and, at this time of year, one of the best-selling items in The Perth Mint Shop!

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Dec 032015
 

Disney – Season’s Greetings Classic 2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin

This is the first Disney collectable coin to feature artwork from The Walt Disney Company’s Corporate Season’s Greetings cards of year’s past. The rarely seen image from 1935 features Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and Clarabelle Cow arriving at Mickey’s house on a snowy Christmas evening. Originally created for key figures in the motion picture industry, the image is also featured on the packaging. Mintage: 10,000.

Disney_Classic-Greetings

 

Disney – Season’s Greetings 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin

This coin’s reverse features Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Pluto and Goofy bearing gifts for Christmas. The coin is presented in a star-shaped coin capsule, which sits inside its book-themed outer packaging. The star capsule comes complete with a ribbon and is ready to be hung on the Christmas tree. Mintage: 10,000.

Disney_Seasons-Greetings

Both Disney coins are issued by New Zealand Mint as legal tender of the Pacific island of Niue.

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Nov 172015
 

 
Nov 172015
 

Congratulations to Tom Hagerman, winner of our Christmas Competition Week 4.

Tom wins a cute Baby Goat 2015 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin for correctly finding the image of Santa on our Christmas 2015 1oz Star Shaped Silver Proof Coin webpage.

Well done to everyone who correctly entered Week 4’s competition. Along with Tom and all our previous winners, your names have automatically been entered into Week 10’s Grand Draw in December for a stunning gold Koala coin.

With five more weekly Christmas Competitions before the Grand Draw, be sure to check the blog or our Facebook page soon for your chance to win another superb prize!

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Nov 102015
 

 
Nov 052015
 

In the past, evergreen shrubs and trees held special meaning for people during the depths of the northern winter. Pine, spruce and yew were used to brighten dwellings around the time of the winter solstice. Some people believed an evergreen sprig above the door would ward off evil spirits.

The first Christmas tree lit with candles is thought to have been the creation of religious reformer Martin Luther. It’s said he was inspired by the vision of stars twinkling among the evergreens on a winter’s night. Erected in Strasbourg Cathedral in 1539, his tree must have been a spectacular sight.

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Christmas Tree in The Perth Mint Shop

When Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz moved to Britain to marry King George III in 1761, she took with her the German custom of adorning Christmas trees with wax tapers, coloured papers, fruit, trinkets and gifts. Thereafter, this ritual became popular with members of the British court and nobility.

It was not until the middle of the 19th century, however, that the practice became more widespread. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s German-born husband, was particularly instrumental in popularising Christmas trees. He used glass ornaments, coloured beads and paper baskets with sugared almonds for decoration. In 1848, an engraving of the Royal Family celebrating Christmas at Windsor beneath their dressed tree sparked extensive interest.

Australian colonists uphold the northern tradition

Christmas was generally a frugal affair in the early years of the Australian penal colony, but by the 1850s free-settlers from Britain were spreading the Royal Family’s new Christmas customs. Without the Christmas tree, however, they were forced to make the most of native flora; branches of eucalypt, pink-coloured Christmas Bushes, scarlet Christmas Bells and even ferns were employed to decorate the house, roof, or veranda.

Like these summer varieties in the east, the Western Australian Christmas Tree, the world’s largest mistletoe, bursts into an amazing display of golden flowers perfectly timed for Christmas!

XmasStarCoin

Christmas 2015 1oz Star Shaped Silver Proof Coin: Portraying a Christmas tree, the coin is housed in a special star-shaped capsule with a hole for a ribbon (not supplied), so that it can be hung as a Christmas tree decoration.

In due course, the use of Christmas Bushes had to compete with introduced trees and the mid-20th century development of the artificial tree. Today, whether it’s the pack-away variety or a fresh-cut pine, dressing the Christmas tree in mesmerising displays of tinsel, baubles and glittering lights is a favourite Christmas ritual for Australians in whom the seasonal spirit is deep-rooted.

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