25 Slightly Strange Facts About Christmas Time

Mistletoe

Mistletoe

The literal meaning of mistletoe is "dung twig" named after its tendency to grow from bird droppings!

25th Of December

25th Of December

We really have no idea when Jesus was actually born. It wasn't until the 4th Century that Catholics decided the day of his birth would be recognized on the 25th of December. Of course, there are other (it must be said, quite sound) theories which suppose that the date was chosen. It's around the time of the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals called 'Saturnalia' and 'Dies Natalis Solis Invicti' took place in December around this date.

People were already celebrating around this time and so it seemed like a good time for Christmas, but there are many who will also draw parallels with "the son" and "the Sun". However, we could all start to sound a little conspiracy theorist if we cover all of that right here - let's keep it light, shall we?

Retail Madness

Retail Madness

In the United States (and we must assume that other Western countries such as Australia, Canada, et al, tend to mirror this) a whopping 1 out of every six dollars spent throughout the whole year is laid out on Christmas-related retail.

Tannenbaum

Tannenbaum

Martin Luther, the 16th century Protestant reformer, is credited as the first person to bring an evergreen in to his home and decorate it as a Christmas tree.

'Tis The Season For Broken Hearts

'Tis The Season For Broken Hearts

According to the gurus at Facebook, the few weeks leading up to Christmas are the worst of the year for breakups, while Christmas itself is among the least likely times to breakup. I'm guessing that these figures are swayed by the fickle relationships of teenagers who really don't want to splash out on a Christmas gift.

Christmas Canceled

Christmas Canceled

Through an Act of Parliament in 1644, Christmas was banned in England, simply because it was an act of celebration. It was during these times that the country saw much religious repression, with many seeing fun as the work of the Devil.

...And The New World?

...And The New World?

It turns out that many took their beliefs to the New World with them. The Puritans banned Christmas celebrations in what was to become the United States for around twenty years. In fact, it wasn't until way later that it was finally recognized as a holiday in 1870.

The Nativity

The Nativity

After returning from returning from Israel in 1224, St. Francis of Assisi decided to re-create the birth of Jesus with what we know recognize as the Nativity scene. Everybody loved the idea, it seems.

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

In Trafalgar Square each Christmas, you'll find the tree that Norway sends to England as thanks for helping them in World War II. They've kept this up since 1947.

Saint Nick

Saint Nick

Born in Turkey around 270AD, Saint Nicholas is the inspiration for Santa Claus. He was known for being generous to the poor and an all 'round good dude, and so his legend has permeated many Christian cultures in different forms.

St. Nick and the Headless Horseman

St. Nick and the Headless Horseman

Washington Irving, the same guy that brought you the headless horseman, penned an 1819 series of short stories called The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, in which he wrote of Santa Claus riding around weightless through the sky, his sleigh following a bunch of reindeer. This was the first mention of this image.

Inverted Christmas Tree

Inverted Christmas Tree

There are two reasons why you might see an inverted tree. Mostly, department stores started doing it merely to save space on the retail floor (and people liked the idea so it caught on) although there are records of others with upside down trees as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

Snowman and Alcohol

Snowman and Alcohol

So clearly this guy has had one too many, but the use of the famous snowman as the go-to advertisement for alcohol companies began back in the 1890s with an independent whiskey maker.

The 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 Days of Christmas

When you listen to the "12 Days Of Christmas" song, try and count the total number of gifts. You'll probably find that there's one for each day of the year. There are many theories surrounding the makeup of the song....who knows for sure....

World War II

World War II

You know how the retail stores seem to be putting out the Christmas stuff super early and we point the finger at them for supposedly ruining Christmas? Well, perhaps they sort of have an excuse. The trend of sending Christmas presents earlier (and therefore selling them earlier) began back during World War II where people would have to get it done early enough for gifts to reach loved ones who were overseas.

Rudolph

Rudolph

Where did this idea of the red-nosed reindeer come from?Well, it was actually an advertising idea born in 1939. Copyrighter Robert May created him for Montgomery Ward simply to get customers through the doors of the latter's department store.

Lazy Misfit

Lazy Misfit

During the original TV adaptation Rudolph never helps the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys despite claiming that he would. Producers were forced to add a scene where he did after parents complained that this sets a bad example for the kids.

Rent-A-Santa

Rent-A-Santa

Every year in the States, about 20,000 Santa are hired to meet the demands of Santa-related posing. However, they undergo training to learn how to deal with both kids and parents, as well as the importance of not having bad breath!

Do The Math

Do The Math

Of course, the sobering thought is that, according to the statisticians, about seven percent of these dudes have criminal records. Now, we're not saying that they're all bad guys - maybe they just made a bad decision or two when they were younger (like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption - he's a nice guy, right?). We're just sayin', that's all....

Super Santa

Super Santa

There's more than 2,000 million children in the world. Santa would need to be an actual legit superhero to move fast enough to get the toys where they need to go, and that's just to be able to survive the ride as the equally super-powered reindeers make their way around the world in one night.

Xmas

Xmas

Why do we often abbreviate "Christmas" with "Xmas"?

It's because "X" in the Greek alphabet is "Chi" - the first letter of the word for Christ. Simple.

North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, Alaska

In the town of North Pole, Alaska, volunteers from the small town of around 1,600 people try and respond to the hundreds of thousands of letters that come their way from kids from all over the world. I mean, they are addressed to Santa Claus but we're guessing he's cool with these people opening his mail. He's probably got more important shit to do anyway.

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was a Christmas present to America from France in 1886. In fact, it is officially the biggest Christmas gift ever given.

Christmas In Space

Christmas In Space

In 1965, two astronauts radioed in that they had spotted something in the sky, and then they went silent for a handful of minutes while everyone on the ground waited in suspense. Then, all of a sudden, the ground staff heard the unmistakable sounds of "Jingle Bells" being played on the harmonica.

The Truce

The Truce

The famous Christmas Truce of 1914 was a beautiful display of humanity. German troops chose the morning of December 25th to leave their trenches and walk towards the Allied Forces calling out "Merry Christmas" in English. Soldiers from opposing sides celebrated Christmas together by exchanging cigarettes and playing football.

Later, they got back to the business of shooting each others heads off.