10 Fun Facts About Christmas That Might Surprise You
The tree is up and is looking resplendent in its festive uniform of baubles, tinsel and fairly lights. You have also invested in a few Christmas Jim Shore figurines and they have really brightened up the mantlepiece. Christmas can really cheer up your home! You might think you know a lot about the festive season but here a few fun facts that might surprise you:
- December 25th is not mentioned in the Bible as the day on which Christ was born. Some historians even believe that the son of god actually arrived in Spring! The 25th December was put forth as a date due to its connection to the Pagan celebration of Saturnalia – held to honour the god Saturn. The festival involved merrymaking and the giving of gifts.
- The Christmas tree may have been inspired by another Saturnalia tradition, where the branches from Evergreen trees were used during winter to remind people that Spring would come and new greenery would thrive. It’s believed that the evergreen branches were the building blocks for the Christmas trees of the future. The tradition of actually putting up a tree and decorating it comes from Germany (see below)!
- Prince Albert introduced the traditional Christmas tree to his new wife, Queen Victoria. Prince Albert brought the tradition of putting up and decorating a tree along with him from his home country of Germany. The royal household (and more importantly Queen Victoria, seemed to like the idea) so the general public decided to follow suit – decorated Christmas trees all round!
- Christmas has been banned in the past. Killjoy Oliver Cromwell put a halt to Christmas merrymaking during his reign, and England turned its back on the festive season for around fifteen years.
Scotland fared worse and following the death of Cromwell the church decided it would be a good idea for the ban on Noel to remain in place, Scotland effectively ignored Christmas for around four hundred years! In the 1600s Boston in the USA also chose to ban Christmas, refusing to accept the Pagan festival and making the whole celebration illegal.
- It is believed that the name Santa Claus is derived St Nicholas, who was a Christian bishop. St Nicholas dates back to fourth century AD and he was thought to have been a very wealthy man. St Nick chose to share his riches and became known as a generous fellow who would give his money away to those less fortunate than himself.
- The practise of leaving milk and cookies for Santa is thought to have come from Dutch children, who would leave out refreshments for St Nicholas on the feasting day. Carrots are also a popular offering for Santa’s reindeer. This stems from Norse mythology when hay and treats were left for Odin’s horse Sleipnir. People believed that if they left out goodies for Sleipnir they might tempt Odin to visit their home.
- Rudolph almost became Reginald or Romeo the red-nosed reindeer, after some deliberation by the author of the tale. However, the name Rudolph seemed to stick and we think it suits the fellow with the glowing red nose. The well depicted image of Santa flying through the air in his sleigh was dreamed up by Washington Irving in 1819.
- The tradition of hanging a Christmas stocking came about when a poor man with three daughters bemoaned the fact that he could not afford to raise the dowry required in order to see his three girls wed. It is said that St Nicholas heard the unfortunate tale and decided to help by dropping a bag of gold coins down the chimney! The bag apparently fell into a stocking that was hanging by the fireplace to dry.
- We all love a good Christmas tune but what’s your favourite? Are you a fan of the serene Silent Night or do you prefer yelling Merry Christmas at the top of your voice long with Slade? There have been numerous memorable songs over the decades, but the best-selling Christmas song of all time is White Christmas.
- Mistletoe Might Result in more than just stolen kiss! The popular Christmas plant is an ancient symbol of fertility and virility. The druids thought that it might also work well as an aphrodisiac.
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year! Embrace it and enjoy every moment. Here’s to rocking around the Christmas tree, a glass of mulled wine and mince pie.