Though not strictly a Christmas tradition, the legend of the St. Bernard is appropriate to the spirit of Christmas. Though the exact history of the dogs has been lost through the centuries, their line is believed to reach back nearly 1000 years in connection with a famous hospice in the Swiss Alps founded by Archdeacon Bernard de Menthon.

The hospice was established to aid travelers crossing the dangerous passes between Switzerland and Italy. Through the centuries, the dogs were used to help rescue stranded travelers. The original dogs eventually evolved into the St. Bernard we know today.

Legend has it that some carried a small barrel or leather bag that contained food and drink to help the people they rescued in the bitter cold and snow of the Alps. Santa Claus thought a St. Bernard would be a good choice for a pet at the North Pole. Santa named him "Cider" after the little barrel of apple cider he carries around for thirsty elves.