November 28, 2018
Christmas Fun Facts
For starters, it wasn’t always on December 25.
Though Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, there is
no mention of December 25 in the Bible. (Most historians believe he was actually born in the spring.) It didn’t become the official holiday until the third century. Some argue that the date was picked because it coincided with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which honored the agricultural god Saturn by celebrating
You can thank Prince Albert for your Christmas tree.
The origin of Christmas trees goes all the way back to ancient Egyptians and Romans, who marked the winter solstice with evergreens as a reminder of spring, according to History.com. But it wasn’t until Prince Albert of Germany introduced the tree to his new wife, Queen Victoria of England, that the tradition took off. A drawing of the couple in front of a Christmas tree appeared in Illustrated London News back in 1848, and royal fever did its work.
St. Nick was actually more generous than jolly.
Sure, you probably knew that the idea of Santa Claus came from St. Nicholas. According to legend, the fourth-century Christian bishop gave away his abundant inheritance to help the needy and rescued women from servitude. As his story spread, his name became Sinter Klaas in Dutch, which later morphed into Santa Claus.
Coca-Cola played a huge part in Santa’s image.
According to Coca-Cola, Santa used to look a lot less jolly – even spooky. When the company hired an illustrator named Haddon Sundblom in 1931 to create images of Santa for magazine advertisements, the warm and friendly Santa we know today was born.
The tradition of hanging stockings started with an accident.
According to legend, it came from the tale of a poor man who couldn’t afford his three daughters dowries. Apparently St. Nick dropped a bag of gold down their chimney one night so that the eldest could get married – but it fell into a stocking that was drying by the fire!
“Jingle Bells” started as a Thanksgiving song.
James Lord Pierpont wrote a song called “One Horse Open Sleigh” and performed it at his church’s Thanksgiving concert. Then in 1857, the song was re-published under the title it has today, and eventually became one of the most popular Christmas songs. Bonus fact: It was also the first song broadcast from space. On December 16, 1965, the Gemini 6 crew serenaded Mission Control after they reported seeing a “red-suited” astronaut.
Celebrating Christmas used to be illegal.
Although the Jamestown settlers created the first American batch of eggnog, by the time the Puritans settled Boston, Christmas was outlawed. (The word nog comes from the word grog; that is, any drink made with rum.) From 1659 to 1681, you’d face a fine for celebrating the once-pagan day. And after the Revolutionary War, the new Congress found the day so unimportant that they held the first session on December 25, 1789. It wasn’t proclaimed a federal holiday for nearly another century.
Christmas decorating sends nearly 15,000 people to the ER.
From hanging lights on ladders to taking a roast out of the oven, making merry can prove hazardous. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,700 people visit hospital emergency rooms each November and December from holiday-related decorating accidents. To top it off, dried Christmas trees spark about a hundred fires, cause an average of 10 deaths, and result in $15.7 million in property damage. Are you convinced to switch to an artificial Christmas tree yet?
Santa has his own zip code in Canada.
Every year, letters to Santa Claus flood post offices across the world. Some Canadian Post Office workers even started answering them – but as more letters arrived, they set up a special zip code for Santa as part of a “Santa Letter-Writing Program” literacy initiative. The zip code? HOH OHO.
The term “Xmas” dates back to the 1500s.
According to From Adam’s Apple to Xmas: An Essential Vocabulary Guide for the Politically Correct, the word “Christianity” was spelled “Xianity” as far back as 1100. X, or Chi, in Greek is the first letter of “Christ” and served as a symbolic stand-in. In 1551, the holiday was called “Xtemmas” but eventually shortened to “Xmas.”
We ship a crazy amount of packages around the holidays.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day last year, the U.S. Postal Service delivered an estimated 850 million packages – in addition to 15 billion pieces of mail.
About 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas.
That explains all those packages the U.S. Postal Service has to deliver. Additionally, the Pew Research Center’s findings found that less people think of Christmas as a religious holiday nowadays. Only 51% of those people who celebrate attend church on Christmas.
And they spend nearly $1,000 on gifts.
According to the National Retail Federation’sfindings in 2017, consumers say they’ll spend $967.13 for the holidays on average. For 2018, total retail sales in November and December are expected to hit $717.45 billion.
Mistletoe was considered an aphrodisiac.
The holiday flora is an ancient symbol of fertility and virility – and the Druids believed it was an actual aphrodisiac. (So thank them at the next awkward holiday function.) The name itself even has a funny meaning: Mistle thrush birds eat the plant’s berries, digest the seeds, and then the droppings eventually grow into new plants. So, the Germanic word for mistletoe literally means “dung on a twig.”
Ham, not turkey, is the festive favorite.
The dinner debate rages on. Searches for “ham” and “turkey” both spike during the month of December, according to Google Trends data. (Though it’s nowhere near how frequently “turkey” is hunted for online in November!) But despite the popularity of both festive entrees, spiral-cut ham remains the more popular choice for a Christmas table.
Candy canes got their start in Germany.
The National Confectioners Association says a choirmaster originally gave the candies to young children so they’d stay quiet during long church services. But when a German-Swedish immigrant decorated his tree with candy canes in 1847, they became popular as a Christmas candy.
And the most popular Christmas song is …
Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You, naturally. (Did you know her then-husband Tommy Mottola plays Santa?) But the best-selling Christmas song of all time is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE
Don’t let Christmas ever heat up too much – with fire that is. Did you know that Christmas trees alone result in 13 million dollars, annually, in property damage? More importantly, these fires present real risk towards family and friends. When showcasing a live tree in your home, the combination of tree dryness, electrical malfunction with lights and poorly located heating sources can make for a deadly combination.
BUT IF YOUR HOLIDAY IS JUST NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT A LIVE TREE, FOLLOW THESE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS TO KEEP THREATS AT BAY:
When your tree begins to drop its needles, it’s time to say goodbye to your evergreen foliage until next year. So this year, follow our guidelines to avoid being another statistic in the National Fire Protection Association or United States Fire Administration report during the upcoming holiday season.
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Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AAA reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather. For more information on winter driving, the association offers the How to Go on Ice and Snow brochure, available through most AAA offices. Contact your local AAA club for more information.
AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:
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Tips for driving in the snow:
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