30 Fun Christmas Facts
1. “Jingle Bells” was written for Thanksgiving, not Christmas. The song was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont and published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh”. It was supposed to be played in the composer’s Sunday school class during Thanksgiving as a way to commemorate the famed Medford sleigh races. “Jingle Bells” was also the first song to be broadcast from space.
2. In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Claus) arrives from Spain, not from the North Pole. And that’s not the only weird thing about the Dutch Christmas. Sinterklaas has his little helpers, but they are not adorable hard-working elves: they are black-faced boys and girls who can steal your kids if they misbehave, and bring them to back Spain which is, according to the Dutch, a severe punishment.
3. In Germany, Poland, and Ukraine, finding a spider or a spider’s web on a Christmas tree is believed to be a harbinger of good luck. According to one legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus, according to the other – a spider web on the Christmas tree turned silver and gold once the sunlight touched it. One way or another, decorating a Christmas tree with artificial spiders and spider webs will inevitably bring you luck and prosperity!
4. Santa stretches time like a rubber band, in order to deliver all the gifts in one night. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there are 2,106 million children under age 18 in the world. If we assume that each household has in average 2.5 children, Santa would have to make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve, traveling 221 million miles. Given the different time zones, Santa has 36 hours to deliver gifts, therefore his average speed would be approximately 650 miles per second. It is less than the speed of light (therefore, it’s, theoretically, doable but still quite hard for a chubby old man). A professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, suggests that Santa uses relativity clouds to get the work done. Relativity clouds, based on relative physics, allow Santa to stretch time like a rubber band which gives him months to deliver gifts, while only a few minutes pass for the rest of us.
5. Two weeks before Christmas is the one of the two most popular times for couples to break up. According to data analyzed from Facebook posts and statuses, couples are more likely to end their relationship two weeks before Christmas and two weeks after Valentine’s day, during the spring break. Christmas Day, however, is the least favorite day for breakups.
6. In Armenia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of fried fish, lettuce and spinach. Many Armenians fast for a week before the Christmas Eve, that’s why, in order not to stress the stomach, the menu for the Christmas dinner is pretty light.
7. Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner. Although the percentage of christian people in Japan is close to zero, every Christmas, kids and grown-ups head to the closest KFC to enjoy some fried chicken – the closest food to turkey that you can get in Japan. It’s all thanks to a successful “Kentucky for Christmas!” marketing campaign in 1947. First aimed at foreigners, KFC offered a “Christmas dinner” that contained chicken and wine – a meal that remotely resembled the food expats and tourists had at home. After a huge success, Kentucky Fried Chicken started promoting this offer every year, until the fast food chain became strongly associated with the holiday season.
8. The “X” in “Xmas” doesn’t take “Christ” out of “Christmas”. Xmas is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas, however, some people think that this spelling is not right, because it takes the “Christ” out of Christmas. Don’t worry, no one is taking the “Christ” anywhere. In the Greek alphabet, the letter X (“chi”) is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ or Christos.
9. The first artificial Christmas Tree wasn’t a tree at all. It was created out of goose feathers that were dyed green. The first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany in the 19th century, due to a major continuous deforestation. The feather trees became increasingly popular during the early 20th century and finally made their way to the US.
10. Iceland has 13 Santas and an old lady who kidnaps children. Christmas in Iceland is a colorful fusion of religion, fairy tales and folklore. Instead of one Santa, the kids are visited by 13 Yule Lads that either reward children for good behavior or punish them if they were naughty. The holiday period begins 13 days before Christmas and each day one of the 13 Yule Lads comes to houses and fills the shoes that kids leave under the Christmas tree either with sweets and small gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on how that particular child has behaved on the preceding day. The mother of Yule Lads, half-troll, half-beast, horrifying old woman Grýla, kidnaps naughty kids and boils them in her cauldron.
11. In Germany, Heiligabend, or Christmas Eve, is said to be a magical time when the pure in heart can hear animals talking. They can also see that rivers turn into wine, Christmas tree blossoms bear fruit, mountains open, revealing gems hidden inside and bell ringing can be heard from the bottom of the sea.
12. About $1,000 is spent on Christmas gifts each year by the average American family.
13. In 1836 Alabama was the first U.S. state to set Christmas as a legal holiday and in 1907 Oklahoma was the last.
14. Children who write letters to Santa Clause in the United States have their letters delivered to Santa Clause, Indiana.
15. It is believed that Sir Henry Cole of London, England sold the first Christmas cards in 1843. Only one thousand cards were sold.
16. Over three billion Christmas cards are sold in the U.K. and the U.S. each year.
17. Many people think Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States. However, the busiest shopping days of the year are the Friday and Saturday before Christmas.
18. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was German and is credited with establishing the popularity of the Christmas tree in England in the mid-nineteenth century.
19. The Rubik Cube, the largest selling Christmas toy in 1980, sold for $1.99, but now sells for nearly $10.
20. The origin of stockings being hung on Christmas came from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes full of food for St. Nicolas’ donkey which would then be filled with small gifts by St. Nicholas.
21. The United States Post Office anticipated delivering more than 15 billion pieces of holiday mail, including more than 850 million packages.
22. The Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, first held in 1570, is one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets and claims to be the largest in Europe. It sells gluhwein (spiced, mulled wine), sweets, sausages, and Christmas decorations and ornaments.
23. Twenty-eight sets of LEGOS are sold every second during the Christmas season.
24. During the Christmas season each year more than 1.76 billion candy canes are made.
25. Retailers anticipated people in the U.S. would spend a total of $465 billion which would create 4.6 million jobs if the money was spend entirely on U.S. made products.
26. While shopping during the Christmas season, shoppers use their Visa cards more than six thousand times every minute.
27. If you are really in to recycling, you can eat your Christmas tree. The needles provide vitamin C. You can also eat pine nuts, if you tree comes with pine cones! Some Christmas trees become food for zoo animals.
28. Mistletoe was an ancient symbol of virility, so someone stood under it if they were available to the opposite sex.
29. Nearly six million dollars are spent during the holiday season on ugly Christmas sweaters.
30. People used to tell scary ghost stories on Christmas Eve a century ago.
Historical Christmas Facts
- 1066 – King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day.
- 1377 – During a Christmas feast hosted by King Richard the II of England in 1377, three hundred sheep and twenty-eight oxen were consumed.
- 1640 – Scotland abolished the observance of Christmas (until 1958 when it became a legal holiday).
- Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) is believed to have been the first President to put a Christmas tree in the White House. Christmas trees were banned by President Teddy Roosevelt in the White House in 1901 because the President was concerned about the environmental effects, but his sons decorated a small tree cut on the White House grounds and hid it in a closet until Christmas morning.
- 1915 – Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards.
Boston, Massachusetts receives a tree from Nova Scotia, Canada because of the support given to the city of Halifax in 1917 when they experienced an explosion and fire disaster. The people of London receive a tree for Trafalgar Square from the people of Oslo, Norway every year to thank them for their assistance during World War II. During World War II, the Bicycle playing card company made decks of cards and gave them to the prisoners of war in Germany with hidden escape routes revealed when the cards were soaked in water as Christmas presents.
- 1962 – the United States issued the first Christmas postage stamp.
Christmas Food and Drink Facts
- A “grog” is any drink made with rum; hence the name for the egg, cream, nutmeg, and rum drink “eggnog” which originated in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia.
- Each year, approximately ten million Christmas turkeys are eaten in the U.K. and 22 million in the United States.
- Today, wassail is hot apple cider with honey and spices, but the drink came from the Middle Ages, when it was originally made with wine, ale, or hard cider topped with stale bread or beaten eggs. Neighbors would visit on Christmas Eve and drink to each other’s health (ves heill meant “in good health” in Old Norse).
- One can eat more than 7,000 calories at Christmas when you add up the turkey, dressing, mashed and sweet potatoes, other sides, pie, rolls, and drinks.
- Ever wonder about the string on a box of animal crackers? Introduced around Christmas in 1902, the string was intended to be used to hang the cracker boxes on your Christmas tree.
- A “sugar plum” featured in Christmas poems and songs was a type of candy with dried fruit, usually a plum, and spices rolled into a ball and coated with chocolate or hard sugar candy.
- Fruitcakes last a long time intentionally. They were originally baked at the end of harvest and some of the cake was saved to be eaten at the beginning to the harvest the following year as people thought that would bring a good crop. It is the sugar and alcohol combination that helps them last so long.
Religious Christmas Facts
- Many people abbreviate Christmas “Xmas,” which is actually based upon X being the first letter of Jesus Christ’s name in Greek.
- First recorded in 1038, old English provided the word Christmas from Cristes mæsse, which means “Christ Mass.”
- A Christmas wreath with holly represents the blood Jesus shed (the red berries) and the crown of thorns.
- The Bible indicates a plurality of wise men, but it is tradition that says there were three, probably as a result of three gifts being given – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
- The three traditional colors used for most Christmas decorations have religious significance. Red if for the blood of Jesus Christ, green symbolizes His resurrection, and gold His status as the King of kings.
- Christmas is not a Biblical holy day as it is not mentioned in the Bible. In fact, many of the symbols and customs we associate with Christmas began with winter solstice rituals and pagan festivals.
- The account of Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection – what is often referred to as “The Christmas Story” appears in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Mark.
- The Latin word natalis, which means “day of birth,” is the origin the word Noel.
Wednesday Comes With:
- A’Phabet Day or No “L” Day
- Christmas Pudding Day