Chilly winter nights by the fire, hot cocoa, the fresh smell of pine from the Christmas tree and gingerbread cookies are some of the most comforting and joyous things about this time of year. Families celebrate, reunite and catch up on all they’ve missed. But what do we really know about Christmas? Here is a list of interesting facts you need to know about the holidays.
- The image of Santa Claus was created by Washington Irving in 1809, he also created the image of the Headless Horseman.
- Santa Claus has eight reindeers and their names are: Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Donder and Blitzen.
- The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square is donated by the people of Oslo, Norway to the people of London every year in gratitude for their assistance during World War II.
- The Christmas tree is also known as the Yule-tree.
- The tallest cut Christmas tree, as in the Guinness World Records, was 221 feet tall and was displayed in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A, in 1950.
- The tallest artificial Christmas tree was built in Sri Lanka at just a little over 236 feet.
- Many zoos in the United States accept donated Christmas trees as food for their animals.
- Christmas trees were first decorated with food, such as apples, nuts and dates. It wasn’t until the 18th century, that trees began to be decorated with candles. Electric Christmas tree lights first came about in 1895.
- ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was initially composed by James Pierpont for Thanksgiving, not Christmas. “Jingle Bells” was also the first song to be broadcast from space.
- People were not always given a “day off’ on Christmas. As late as 1850, December 25 was not a legal holiday in New England, so stores and businesses were open and children were expected to attend school.
- Christmas was not always the joyful and holy holiday we know and love today. Christmas was originally celebrated as an adult form of “trick or treat,” which consisted of overconsumption of alcohol and harmful threats if treats were not distributed. This included bodily harm or destruction of property.
- The Christmas tree wasn’t always a holiday tradition. The concept of this tradition was manufactured by Victorian intellectuals (like Clement Moore) as a part of a social movement to reform the tradition of unruly drinking and horse-play to a more domesticated activity.
- “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” wasn’t always the cheerful Christmas carol we know today. It was originally sung as a threat. The ever-popular song was originally sung, loudly and repeatedly, by large crowds of disruptive and wild domestic help demanding alcohol from their masters… or else. (I.e. “We won’tgo until we get some!”)
- The Statue of Liberty can be considered to be the biggest Christmas gift in the world. It was gifted to the US by the French on Christmas day in 1886.
- KFC is a traditional Christmas dinner for the people of Japan. Customers make reservations 2 months in advance for the fried chicken feast.
- An artificial Christmas tree is not saving the environment. It would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be “greener” and more “eco-friendly’ than buying a fresh-cut tree annually.