MITTEN TREE DAY
On December 6th, Mitten Tree Day celebrates the gift of warmth. It’s a day to collect mittens, hang them on a Christmas tree, and then hand them out to those in need.
Those who live in cold climates understand the necessity of mittens. This winter clothing item is essential for keeping the hands warm while outdoors. Unfortunately, however, there are many children around the world who are without adequate winter clothing, which includes mittens.
Mittens have been around for hundreds of years. Those in cold climates made mittens from fur, animal skin, and whatever other materials could be found to keep the hands warm. Many believe the oldest mittens come from Latvia and are over 1,000 years old. Latvians didn’t just use mittens to keep their hands warm, however. When Latvian women married, they were given a hope chest with several pairs of knitted mittens. The unique patterns on the mittens had specific meanings. Some patterns signified a blessing for their home while other patterns were used to bless members of their families.
One of the earliest known mittens in the United States dates back to 1803. The mitten contained a poem knitted into the wool. During the Civil War, Abby Condon produced hand-knitted mittens for soldiers, and she recruited women from all over New England to help her. About 1,500 workers produced 15,000 mittens in just one year.
So as you can see, all throughout history, mittens have been given away as gifts and for those in need. This special day helps to keep this tradition alive.
HOW TO OBSERVE #MittenTreeDay
Every year on this day, schools, churches, and charitable organizations set up a Christmas tree and ask people to donate mittens. The mittens are hung on the tree and then distributed to those in need. You can participate by putting up a Mitten Tree in your place of work, worship, or in your home. Ask your family, friends, and coworkers to donate mittens. Many communities have child advocacy organizations that are in need of mittens and other warm clothing items for winter. You can also share this day on social media with #MittenTreeDay.
MITTEN TREE DAY HISTORY
Some say that Mitten Tree Day is a response to the book, “The Mitten Tree” by Candace Christianson. However, newspaper references prove this day began before the book came out. One newspaper article came out in 1949. According to the article, children of the Primary Department of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church clipped mittens and gloves to the branches of a Christmas Tree. These gloves were then turned over to the Lutheran World Service after Christmas and were distributed to boys and girls in Europe, where warm clothing was badly needed. In the 1950s and 1960s Boy and Girl Scout Troops collected or made mittens to give away at Christmastime, hanging them on trees. In recent years, Mitten Tree Day events have been held annually on December 6th.