Some Fun Facts & Trivia
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-One of the most popular Christmas songs, "Jingle Bells" was actually written for Thanksgiving.
-"Hot cockles" was a popular game at Christmas in medieval times. It was a game in which the other players took turns striking the blindfolded player, who had to guess the name of the person delivering each blow. "Hot cockles" was still a Christmas pastime until the Victorian era.
-"White Christmas" (1954), starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, was the first movie to be made in Vista Vision, a deep-focus process.
-"The Nutcracker" is the name for the ballet performed around Christmas time each year. "The Nutcracker Suite" is the title of the music Tchaikovsky wrote.
-"Wassail" comes from the Old Norse "ves heill"--to be of good health. This evolved into the tradition of visiting neighbors on Christmas Eve and drinking to their health.
Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for Montgomery Ward. The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year and it was decided that creating their own book would save money. May considered naming the reindeer "Rollo" and "Reginald" before deciding upon using the name "Rudolph".
-A Christmas club, a savings account in which a person deposits a fixed amount of money regularly to be used at Christmas for shopping, came about around 1905.
-According to historical accounts, the first Christmas in the Philippines was celebrated 200 years before Ferdinand Magellan discovered the country for the western world, likely between the years 1280 and 1320 AD.
-According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year; 25 percent of them are from the nation's 5,000 choose-and-cut farms.
-After "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year, but none was as successful as the original.
-Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday. This tradition began in 1836.
-Although many believe the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is not. It is the fifth to tenth busiest day. The Friday and Saturday before Christmas are the two busiest shopping days of the year.
-American billionaire Ross Perot tried to airlift 28 tons of medicine and Christmas gifts to American POW's in North Vietnam in 1969.
-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 300 feet (90 meters) high. It was made the official Christmas tree in 1925.
-An average household in America will mail out 28 Christmas cards each year and see 28 eight cards return in their place.
-Animal Crackers are not really crackers, but cookies that were imported to the United States from England in the late 1800s. Barnum's circus-like boxes were designed with a string handle so that they could be hung on a Christmas tree.
-As early as 1822, the postmaster in Washington, D.C. was worried by the amount of extra mail at Christmas time. His preferred solution to the problem was to limit by law the number of cards a person could send. Even though commercial cards were not available at that time, people were already sending so many home-made cards that sixteen extra postmen had to be hired in the city.
-Before settling on the name of Tiny Tim for his character in "A Christmas Carol," three other alliterative names were considered by Charles Dickens. They were Little Larry, Puny Pete, and Small Sam.
-Candy canes began as straight white sticks of sugar candy used to decorated the Christmas trees. A choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral decided have the ends bent to depict a shepherd's crook and he would pass them out to the children to keep them quiet during the services. It wasn't until about the 20th century that candy canes acquired their red stripes.
-Charles Dickens' initial choice for Scrooge's statement "Bah Humbug" was "Bah Christmas."
-Christmas presents were known in antiquity among kings and chieftains, especially on the European continent. However, they have been common among ordinary people in Iceland only during the past 100 or so years.
-Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.
-Christmas trees are known to have been popular in Germany as far back as the sixteenth century. In England, they became popular after Queen Victoria's husband Albert, who came from Germany, made a tree part of the celebrations at Windsor Castle. In the United States, the earliest known mention of a Christmas tree is in the diary of a German who settled in Pennsylvania.
-Christmas was once a moveable feast celebrated at many different times during the year. The choice of December 25, was made by Pope Julius I, in the 4th century A.D., because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.
-Cultured Christmas trees must be shaped as they grow to produce fuller foliage. To slow the upward growth and to encourage branching, they are hand-clipped in each spring. Trees grown in the wild have sparser branches, and are known in the industry as "Charlie Brown" trees.
-During the ancient 12-day Christmas celebration, the log burned was called the "Yule log." Sometimes a piece of the Yule log would be kept to kindle the fire the following winter, to ensure that the good luck carried on from year to year. The Yule log custom was handed down from the Druids.
-During the Christmas buying season, Visa cards alone are used an average of 5,340 times every minute in the United States.
-During the Christmas/Hanukkah season, more than 1.76 billion candy canes will be made.
-During World War II it was necessary for Americans to mail Christmas gifts early for the troops in Europe to receive them in time. Merchants joined in the effort to remind the public to shop and mail early and the protracted shopping season was born.
-Electric Christmas tree lights were first used in 1895. The idea for using electric Christmas lights came from an American, Ralph E. Morris. The new lights proved safer than the traditional candles.
-Following Princess Diana's tragic death in 1997, the Ty toy company, famous in the late 1990s for its popular Beanie Baby line of beanbag animals, issued a "Princess" bear in tribute. The royal purple Beanie, bearing an embroidered white rose on its chest, became so desired that at Christmas time, American collectors were willing to spend up to $300 for one on the secondary market.
-For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.
-There are two Christmas Islands.
The Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean was formerly called Kiritimati. Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is 52 square miles.
-Franklin Pierce was the first United States' president to decorate an official White House Christmas tree .
-Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company.
-In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Festivities were banned by Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell, who considered feasting and revelry, on what was supposed to be a holy day, to be immoral. The ban was lifted only when the Puritans lost power in 1660.
-In 1752, 11 days were dropped from the year when the switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar was made. The December 25, date was effectively moved 11 days backwards. Some Christian church sects, called old calendarists, still celebrate Christmas on January 7 (previously December 25 of the Julian calendar).
-In 1907, Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.
-In 1937, the first postage stamp to commemorate Christmas was issued in Austria.
-In 1947, Toys for Tots started making the holidays a little happier for children by organizing its first Christmas toy drive for needy youngsters.
-In 1996, Christmas caroling was banned at two major malls in Pensacola, Florida. Apparently, shoppers and merchants complained the carolers were too loud and took up too much space.
In an effort to solicit cash to pay for a charity Christmas dinner in 1891, a large crabpot was set down on a San Francisco street, becoming the first Salvation Army collection kettle.
-In America, the weeks leading up to Christmas are the biggest shopping weeks of the year. Many retailers make up to 70% of their annual revenue in the month preceding Christmas.
-Mistletoe, a traditional Christmas symbol, was once revered by the early Britons. It was so sacred that it had to be cut with a golden sickle.
-More diamonds are purchased at Christmas-time (31 percent) than during any other holiday or occasion during the year.
-More than three billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States.
-New York City's Empire State Building's world famous tower lights are turned off every night at midnight with the exception of New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Patrick's Day, when they are illuminated until 3 a.m.
-On Christmas Day, 1989, Eastern Europe was permitted to celebrate Christmas freely and openly for the first time in decades. Church masses were broadcast live for the first time in history.
-Per a November 2000 Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans thought they would spend at least $500 that year on Christmas gifts. This was a slight drop from 1999 gift-spending.
-Right behind Christmas and Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday ranks as the third-largest occasion for Americans to consume food, according to the National Football League.
-Santa's Reindeers are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.
-Silent Night was written in 1818, by an Austrian priest Joseph Mohr. He was told the day before Christmas that the church organ was broken and would not be prepared in time for Christmas Eve. He was saddened by this and could not think of Christmas without music, so he wanted to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music. He sat down and wrote three stanzas. Later that night the people in the little Austrian Church sang "Stille Nacht" for the first time.
-St. Nicholas was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early fourth century. It was the Dutch who first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and Dutch settlers brought him to America where his name eventually became the familiar Santa Claus.
-The "Twelve Days of Christmas" was originally written to help Catholic children, in England, remember different articles of faith during the persecution by Protestant Monarchs. The "true love" represented God, and the gifts all different ideas:
The "Partridge in a pear tree" was Christ.
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity-- the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which relays the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of Creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed