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26 Interesting Facts About Christmas

December 14, 2012

1. Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzer, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female.

2. Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.

3. The Germans made the first artificial Christmas trees out of dyed goose feathers.

4. All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.

5. According to the Guinness world records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.

6. The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes

, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.

7. According to data analyzed from Facebook posts, two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up.

8. The world’s largest Christmas stocking measured 106 feet and 9 inches (32.56 m) long and 49 feet and 1 inch (14.97 m) wide. It weighed as much as five reindeer and held almost 1,000 presents. It was made by the Children’s Society in London on December 14, 2007.

9. Christmas trees have been sold in the U.S. since 1850 and usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.

10. Many European countries believed that spirits, both good and evil, were active during the Twelve Days of Christmas.

11. Each year there are approximately 20,000 “rent-a-Santas” across the United States. “Rent-a-Santas” usually undergo seasonal training on how to maintain a jolly attitude under pressure from the public. They also receive practical advice, such as not accepting money from parents while children are looking and avoiding garlic, onions, or beans for lunch.

12. The British wear paper crowns while they eat Christmas dinner. The crowns are stored in a tube called a “Christmas cracker.”

13. Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836.

14. Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.

15. Oklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.

16. Ancient peoples, such as the Druids, considered mistletoe sacred because it remains green and bears fruit during the winter when all other plants appear to die. Druids would cut the plant with golden sickles and never let it touch the ground. They thought it had the power to cure infertility and nervous diseases and to ward off evil.

17. Evergreens have been symbols of eternal life and rebirth since ancient times. The Pagan use and belief in the sacredness of the evergreen boughs and trees has evolved into the Christianized Christmas tree.

18. A Yule log is an enormous log that is typically burned during the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25-January 6). Some scholars suggest that the word yule means “revolution” or “wheel,” which symbolizes the cyclical return of the sun. A burning log or its charred remains is said to offer health, fertility, and luck as well as the ability to ward off evil spirits.

19. Because of their Pagan associations, both the holly (associated with the masculine principle) and the ivy (the feminine) and other greens that the Pagans used to bring into their homes as decoration, were banned by the sixth-century Christian Council of Braga.

20. Christmas has its roots in pagan festivals such as Saturnalia (December 17-December 23), the Winter Solcstic or Yule (Dec. 21st), the Kalends (January 1 -5, the precursor to the Twelve Days of Christmas), and Deus Sol Invictus or Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun (December 25). The Christians church heartily disapproved of such celebrations and co-opted the pagans by declaring December 25 as Christ’s day of birth, though there is no evidence Christ was born on that day and biblical scholars belive he was born in the summer.

21. Early illustrations of St. Nicholas depict him as stern, commanding, and holding a birch rod. He was more a symbol of discipline and punishment than the jolly, overweight elf children know today.

22. Approximately 30-35 million real (living) Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S.b

23. Christmas is a contraction of “Christ’s Mass,” which is derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse (first recorded in 1038). The letter “X” in Greek is the first letter of Christ, and “Xmas” has been used as an abbreviation for Christmas since the mid 1500s.c

24. In Germany, Heiligabend, or Christmas Eve, is said to be a magical time when the pure in heart can hear animals talking.

25. The Viking god, Odin, is one precursor to the modern Santa Claus. According to myth, Odin rode his flying horse, Sleipnir (a precursor to Santa’s reindeer), who had eight legs. In the winter, Odin gave out both gifts and punishments, and children would fill their boots or stockings with treats for Sleipnir.

26. The earliest known Christmas tree decorations were apples. At Christmastime, medieval actors would use apples to decorate paradise trees (usually fir trees) during “Paradise Plays,” which were plays depicting Adam and Eve’s creation and fall.

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