Tis the Season: Little Known Christmas Facts


This is my favorite time of year. Needing another topic for a post, I decided to scour the Internet looking for some interesting Christmas facts. Here is a list of twenty-five facts. Have fun and Merry Christmas!

  • All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.
  • According to data analyzed from Facebook posts, two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up. However, Christmas Day is the least favorite day for breakups.
  • Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeer shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female or castrated.
  • Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates during the Christmas holiday are low. The highest rates are during the spring.
  • Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836. Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870. Oklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.
  • Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra (also known as Nikolaos the Wonder worker, Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, and Nikolaos of Bari), who lived during the fourth century. Born in Patara (in modern-day Turkey), he is the world’s most popular non-Biblical saint, and artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint except Mary. He is the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, pirating, butchery, sailing, thievery, orphans, royalty, and New York City.

Santa Claus as he looked before Coca Cola got a hold of him.

  • President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1901.
  • The first printed reference to a Christmas tree was in 1531 in Germany.
  • According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (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 “chunky salsa.”
  • Christmas supposedly marks the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25. But there is no mention of December 25 in the Bible and most historians actually believe he was born in the spring or fall.
  • December 25 was probably chosen because it coincided with the ancient pagan festival Saturnalia, which celebrated the agricultural god Saturn with partying, gambling, and gift-giving.
Saturnalia Festival

Saturnalia Festival

  • The well-known reason we give presents at Christmas is to symbolize the gifts given to baby Jesus by the three wise men. But it may also stem from the Saturnalia tradition that required revelers to offer up rituals to the gods.
  • Because of its roots in pagan festivals, Christmas was not immediately accepted by the religious. In fact, from 1659 to 1681, it was illegal to celebrate Christmas in Boston. You were fined if you were caught celebrating.
  • Though Santa Claus has worn blue and white and green in the past, his traditional red suit came from a 1930s ad by Coca Cola.
  • And the image of him Santa Claus flying in a sleigh started in 1819…and was dreamt up by the same author who created the Headless Horseman, Washington Irving.
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was actually conceived by a department store, Montgomery Ward, as a marketing gimmick to get kids to buy holiday coloring books.
Robert May with his creation, Rudolph

Robert May with his creation, Rudolph

  • The poem that introduced us to the other eight reindeer, “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” actually named dropped Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Duner and Blixem. (Which, like Donner and Blitzen, come from the German words for thunder and lightning.)
  • “Jingle Bells” was originally supposed to be a Thanksgiving song.
  • All letters addressed to Santa in the United States go to Santa Claus, Indiana.
  • Many of the perpetually open Denny’s restaurants were built without locks, which was a problems when they decided to close for Christmas in 1988.
  • We frequently abbreviate Christmas as X-mas because of ancient tradition. X is the Greek letter “chi” which is an abbreviation for the word “Christ” in Greek.
  • Jesus was probably born in a cave and not a wooden stable, say Biblical scholars.
  • The customary Christmas dinner in England included a pig head with mustard sauce. However, this is not followed anymore In England.
Customary English Christmas Dinner

Customary English Christmas Dinner

  • Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.
  • In A.D. 350, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ.

Enjoy the new information and look at the references for more. I know I am going to have to do another post for my Jewish readers. Stay tuned.




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