Now that Christmas is behind us for one more year, it is time to see just how much of the holiday traditions you know. Consider these Christmas fun facts:
- What’s so special about mistletoe? The Druids considered mistletoe sacred because it remains green and bears fruit during the winter when all other plants appear to die. Druids would cut the plant with golden sickles, never allowing the plant to touch the ground. It was thought it have the power to cure infertility, nervous diseases and to ward off evil.
- Yule do what with that log? A medieval Nordic tradition. A Yule log is a massive wooden log that is typically burned during the Twelve Days of Christmas. Scholars believe that the word Yule means “revolution” or “wheel,” which symbolizes the cyclical return of the sun. A burning log or its charred remains is said to bring health, fertility, and luck.
- Oh, it’s your birthday too Christmas has its roots in pagan traditions, one being the Roman winter festival Saturnalia and another the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. The Roman sun god’s birthday just happens to fall on December 25th. So….. In 350 BC, Pope Julius I proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ. Yet it would take hundreds of years for the celebration to fully take hold.
- Twinkle twinkle little candle According to German lore, the first person to decorate a Christmas tree was the Protestant reformer Martin Luther. According to legend he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree Luther brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children.
- Hey my house isn’t dusty, these are my Christmas decorations. In Poland, spiderwebs are common Christmas trees decorations. According to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas. Meanwhile in America…. Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday, the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations from 1659-1681 with a penalty of five shillings for each offense. Some Puritan leaders condemned those who favored Christmas as enemies of the Christian religion. So, I guess we can say the “war on Christmas” started way back in 1659.
- Christmas wasn’t 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.
- All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.
- Most of Santa’s reindeer have masculine names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. But, did you know….? Male reindeer shed their antlers around December so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female.
- The westernized idea of a white jolly fat man in a red suit only dates back to 1931 when Coco-Cola commissioned illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus. Sundblom in turn used Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as inspiration for his “jolly elf”.
Thanks to The View from Sari’s World for these fun facts. Check out this great blog for some great reading.