It's the most wonderful time of the year, but how much do YOU know about Christmas?
Do you know what the world's largest Christmas present was?
How about the world's largest tree?
Check out these 50 Festive Facts and impress everyone at your next Christmas gathering with your Yuletide knowledge.
Believe it or not!
- "Xmas" came into general use from the church! X is the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of Christ's name in --so "Xmas" is every bit as religious as "Christmas."
- 7 out of 10 dogs get spoiled from their puppy parents every Christmas. Hey, they're members of the family, right?
- Did you know that Coca-Cola was the first company to use Santa Claus in a winter promotion?
- The cross so overshadowed the manger-and the resurrection so overshadowed the incarnation-that neither scripture nor tradition has passed down a firm date for Christmas.
- Christmas didn't gain widespread recognition among Christians until quite recently. In some protestant-dominated areas, such as the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the celebration of Christmas was even legally banned!
- As late as the last century, Christmas wasn't even a legal holiday! This explains why nineteenth-century readers found it credible that Scrooge could require Cratchit to come to work on Christmas Day and why in the nineteenth century the US Congress could meet on Christmas Day.
- Oklahoma was the last US State to declare Christmas as a legal holiday in 1907.
- Alabama was the first in 1836.
- Mistletoe literally means "dung twig." Makes you wanna pucker up, huh?
- Ebenezer Scrooge's original catchphrase was "Bah Christmas," not "Bah Humbug."
A caroling we will go!
- Christmas carols began as an old English custom called "wassailing," in which one would toast their neighbors to a long life. So when you sing Christmas carols, you're bringing joy AND wishing good health to everyone you come across!
- Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," released in 1942 is the best-selling Christmas song of all-time!
- "In the meadow we can build a Snowman, and pretend that he is Parson Brown." The Parson Brown referred to is the not someone's first and last name, but rather someone who is a Parson with the last name Brown. A parson was a traveling protestant minister who performed weddings, thus the lyric: "He'll say are you married?' We'll say 'no man,' but you can do the job while you're in town."
- "Jingle Bells" was originally written for a Thanksgiving Celebration.
- It was also the first song to be sung in space--on December 16, 1965 by astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra.
- After "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens wrote other Christmas stories annually--although none would be as successful as the first.
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town!
- Due to international time zones, our modern day Santa Claus actually has 31 hours to deliver presents to all the children of the world.
- But to do so, he'll need to travel at a rate of 4,796,250 MPH! So that's how he does it!
- Although they have masculine names like Blitzen, Donner, and Rudolph, male reindeer shed their antlers around the holidays. So it's most likely Santa's sleigh is pulled by female reindeer!
- Saint Nicholas Day (December 6) was the traditional day for giving gifts to children. It is still the day on which children receive gifts from St. Nicholas in the Netherlands.
- Nothing is known of Saint Nicholas' life except for the legends that have built up around him, but he was associated with kindness to children.
- Santa Claus is the American pronunciation of Sinter Klaas, which was colloquial Dutch for Saint Nicholas.
Around the World
- A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck in The Ukraine.
- Christmas is not widely celebrated in Scotland. This is believed to be because the country is mostly Presbyterian, and Christmas is considered to be a Catholic event.
- In Guatemala, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th, but Guatemalan adults don't exchange gifts until New Year's Day.
- It is still believed in Britain that eating a mince pie on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas will bring 12 months of happiness.
- The poinsettia is the most common Christmas flower in the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
- In Norway on Christmas Eve, after holiday dinner and the opening of presents, families hide all the brooms in the house. Norwegians believed in ancient times that witches and mischievous spirits came out on Christmas Eve, and would steal their brooms for riding.
- In Argentina, a Christmas Eve night tradition includes 'globos', paper decorations with a light inside that float into the sky. The sky is filled with them on Christmas Eve after midnight.
- While not widely celebrated in Japan, fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day. It is the busiest time of year for restaurants such as KFC and people can even place orders in advance! The traditional Japanese christmas food is christmas cake (usually a sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream).
Everyone loves presents!
- If you received every gift in "The Twelve Days of Christmas," you'd have 364 gifts!
- The Dutch custom of giving presents to children on St. Nicholas Day was brought to America by early Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam. Haven't heard of it? That's because it was renamed New York when the British took over the colony.
- Get a tie from Weird Uncle Al you'll never wear? Don't worry, you're among the 28% of Americans who re-gift.
- In the US, gifts are now exchanged on Christmas Day in a sort of compromise of Dutch, German, and British gift-giving customs.
- The world's biggest Christmas gift is the Statue of Liberty! Given to the US by the French in 1886, it weighs over 225 tons. It's always stood as a symbol of freedom, but who'd have thought of it as an actual gift?
- Black Friday actually isn't the busiest shopping day of the year. The Friday and Saturday before Christmas are the busiest shopping days.
- The Monday after Black Friday is referred to as Cyber Monday because it is the busiest online shopping day of the year.
- Visa cards alone are used over 5,000 times per minute in the US!
- Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
- Americans send 1.5 billion Christmas cards annually.
- Toys for Tots held its first toy drive in 1947.
Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...
- The Christmas tree is a Christianized pagan custom that originated in Germany. German settlers introduced it in America. It became popular during the nineteenth century, and then later spread to Britain and Japan from the US.
- The world's largest Christmas tree was a Douglas Fir standing 221 feet tall! It was displayed at the Northgate Mall right here in Seattle in 1950. We sure know how to do Christmas right in the Pacific Northwest! Can you imagine all the tinsel?
- On average, it takes 7 years to grow a Christmas tree, although it can take up to 15!
- In 1979, the National Christmas Tree wasn't lighted--save for the top ornament. This was done to honor the American hostages in Iran.
- Franklin Pierce was the first president to place a Christmas tree in the White House.
- Christmas trees have been sold in the U.S. since 1950.
- The earliest known Christmas tree decorations were apples, used by medieval actors in plays depicting Adam and Eve.
- The box of Barnum's Animal Crackers was designed so it could be hung on a Christmas tree.
- For every Christmas tree harvested, two to three are planted in its place.