Strange Facts About Christmas
STRANGE FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS
-Each year there are approximately 20,000 "rent-a-Santa's" across the United States. These Santa's 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.
-Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph's red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.
-Silent Night was first sung as part of a church service in Austria. A guitar was used because the church organ was so badly rusted it couldn't be played.
-Before Christians decided on December 25 to celebrate the birth of Jesus, several dates were proposed: January 2, March 21, March 25, April 18, April 19, May 20, May 28, and November 20.
-Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner, thanks to a successful marketing campaign 40 years ago. KFC is so popular that customers must place their Christmas orders 2 months in advance.
-The Germans made the first artificial Christmas trees out of dyed goose feathers.
-In Germany and some other western European countries, St. Nicholas, or Nikolaus comes on the night from the 5th to the 6th of December, where children have their boots all shined and clean in front of a door or window. He will leave toys, nuts oranges, apples and chocolate for the good children. The bad child gets a branch to be used by the parents to beat the offending child.
-Santa Claus has different names in different countries: Sheng Dan Lao Ren in China, Father Christmas in England, Papa Noel in Brazil and Peru and Pere Noel in France.
-An artificial Christmas tree would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be "greener" than buying a fresh-cut tree annually.
-Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone.
-The "true love" mentioned in the song "Twelve Days of Christmas" does not refer to a romantic couple, but the Catholic Church's code for God. The person who receives the gifts represents someone who has accepted that code. For example, the "partridge in a pear tree" represents Christ. The "two turtledoves" represent the Old and New Testaments.
-Guatemalan adults do not exchange Christmas gifts until New Year's Day. Children get theirs on Christmas morning.
-The two biggest selling Christmas songs are "White Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".
-The Nazi party tried to turn Christmas into a nonreligious holiday celebrating the coming of Hitler, with Saint Nicholas replaced by Odin the "Solstice Man" and swastikas on top of Christmas trees.
-The US playing card company 'Bicycle' had manufactured a playing card in WW2. That, when the card was soaked, it would reveal an escape route for POWs. These cards were Christmas presents for all POWs in Germany. The Nazis were none the wiser!
-Most of Santa's reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeer's shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh are likely not male, but female or castrati.
-In North America, children put stockings out at Christmas time. Their Dutch counterparts use shoes.
-The smallest Christmas card was made by scientists at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom in 2010. At only 200 x 290 micrometres in size, 8,276 of these cards would fit in one postage stamp.
-The people of Oslo, Norway donate the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree every year in gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during WWII.
-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.
-The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
-When visiting Finland, Santa leaves his sleigh behind and rides on a goat named Ukko. Finnish folklore has it that Ukko is made of straw, but is strong enough to carry Santa Claus anyway.
-The most expensively dressed Christmas tree was valued at $11,026,900 and was displayed by the Emirates Palace in the UAE.
-During the Christmas of 2010, the Colombian government covered jungle trees with lights. When FARC guerrillas (terrorists) walked by, the trees lit up and banners asking them to lay down their arms became visible. 331 guerrillas re-entered society and the campaign won an award for strategic marketing excellence.
-According to data analysed from Facebook posts, two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up. Christmas Day is the least favorite day for breakups.
-When distributing gifts in Holland, St. Nicholas is accompanied his servant, Black, who is responsible for actually dropping the presents down their recipients' chimneys. He also punishes bad children by putting them in a bag and carrying them away to Spain.
-The largest artificial Christmas tree measures 170.6 feet and can be found in Brazil.
-Nearly all of the most popular Christmas songs including 'Winter Wonderland', 'Chestnuts roasting', and 'I'm Dreaming of a white Christmas' were written by Jews.
-Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates during the Christmas holiday are low. The highest rates are during spring.
-In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by one of the Wise Men's camels. The gift-giving camel is said to have been the smallest one in the Wise Men's caravan.
-The largest Christmas star ornament measures 103 feet and eight inches tall and can be found in India.
-All letters addressed to Santa in the United States go to Santa Claus, Indiana.
-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.
-One town in Indiana is called Santa Claus. There is also a Santa, Idaho.
-The most lights lit on simultaneously on a Christmas tree is 194,672 and was achieved in Belgium last year.
-During the Christmas of 1914 (WWI), a truce was held between Germany and the UK. They decorated their shelters, exchanged gifts across no man's land and played a game of football between themselves.
-Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
-The popular Christmas song "Jingle Bells" was actually written for Thanksgiving. The song was composed in 1857 by James Pierpont, and was originally called "One Horse Open Sleigh".
-Although now mostly vegetarian, in Victorian times, mince pies were made with beef and spices.
-In 1867, a Boston industrialist heard Charles Dickens read A Christmas Carol and was so moved he closed his factory on Christmas Day and gave every one of his employees a turkey.
-In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations because according to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas.
-Despite the tale of three wise men paying homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never gives a number. It refers to merely "wise men".
-There are 364 gifts mentioned in "The Twelve Days of Christmas".
-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.
-Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbors to a long life.
-The Boxing Day holiday was originally celebrated in England for the servants to the rich people. After Christmas the servants "boxed up" all the left-overs from the rich people and took them home.
-The Beatles hold the record for most Xmas number 1 singles, topping the charts in 1963, 65 and 67.
-According to the UNICEF there are 2,106 million children under age 18 in the world. If there are on average 2.5 children per household, Santa would have to make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve, traveling 221 million miles. To reach all 842 million stops, Santa would need to travel between houses in 2/10,000 second, which means he would need to accelerate 12.19 million miles (20.5 billion meters) per second on each stop. The force of this acceleration would reduce Santa to salsa.
-It is said that candy canes were invented by a candy maker in Indiana. He wanted to use them to spread the name Jesus around the world.-Mistletoe kissing originated with fertility rites. The hanging sprig is a very ancient symbol of virility and therefore anybody standing beneath it is signalling that he or she is sexually available.
-America's official national Christmas tree is located in King's Canyon National Park in California. The tree, a giant sequoia called the "General Grant Tree" is over 90 meters (300 feet) high, and was made the official Christmas tree in 1925.
-There is no reference to angels singing anywhere in the Bible.
-Some zoos take donated Christmas trees and use them to feed their animals.
-Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday, the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations from 1659-1681 with a penalty of five shillings for each offense. Some Puritan leaders condemned those who favored Christmas as enemies of the Christian religion.
-The first Christmas was celebrated on December 25, AD 336 in Rome.
-Nearly 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.
-Charles Dickens grew up during a 'Little Ice Age' - it snowed for each of his first 8 Christmases, influencing his writing and hence today's tradition of a 'White Christmas'.
-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.
-Artificial Christmas trees have outsold real ones in the US since 1991.
-Biblical scholars believe Jesus was probably born in a cave and not a wooden stable.
-Mormon missionaries can only call home twice a year: once on Mother's Day and again on Christmas.
-In Greece, Italy, Spain and Germany, workers get a Christmas bonus of one month's salary by law.
-Christmas stockings allegedly evolved from three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry and were therefore doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved however when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (the precursor to Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.
-St. Nicholas was bishop of the Turkish town in the early 4th century. The Dutch first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and settlers brought him to America where his name eventually became the familiar Santa Claus.
-The chances of a white Christmas is Australia is pretty much 0.
-Telling "scary ghost stories" is an old Christmas Eve tradition that has died out in the past century.
-95% of all Americans celebrate Christmas (only 75% of the U.S. is Christian), and just 51% of the holiday's celebrators consider it a "strongly religious" holiday.
-President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1912.
-In Armenia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of fried fish, lettuce and spinach.
-Many theologians estimate that Jesus wasn't born sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD.
-Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is the only record to get the UK Christmas Singles Chart Number One twice, once in 1975 and again in 1991.
-It is estimated that the single "White Christmas" by Irving Berlin is the bestselling single of all time, with over 100 million sales worldwide.
-Christmas has different meanings around the world; Christmas Eve in Japan is a good day to eat fried chicken and strawberry shortcake.
-In 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world's biggest ever snowman. He stood at 113ft tall.
-Engineers designing the Voyager Space mission planned it to avoid planetary encounters over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
-Gold-wrapped chocolate coins commemorate St Nicholas who gave bags of gold coins to the poor.
-There are approximately 21,000 Christmas tree farms in the United States. In 2008, nearly 45 million Christmas trees were planted, adding to the existing 400 million trees.
-Alabama was the first US state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday, and the tradition began in 1836. Oklahoma was the last to declare it a legal holiday, in 1907.