Undoubtedly, Christmas is the greatest, most celebrated and most decorated holiday in the world. Lights, Christmas trees and different characters, such as Joseph, Mary, sages and shepherds traditionally decorate buildings, houses, streets and city squares.
Everyone hears Christmas tunes played in shopping centers, on the television or the radio. There is a festive mood everywhere. But, of course, children like the Christmas holiday more than adults. They cannot wait to open the gifts, which their parents put under the Christmas tree.
There are many good traditions associated with the Christmas holiday. Some of them are known, and some are not. Therefore, we have decided to look for the most interesting facts about Christmas, which are not widely known.
Practically the whole world celebrate Christmas on December 25. Only some countries that are under Orthodox influence continue to celebrate Christmas on the so-called, old style – January 7th. All this fuss is due to the fact that the Orthodox Church uses the long-obsolete Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar. Europe abandoned the Julian calendar because of its errors more than 500 years ago. And in 1582 Europe moved to a more accurate Gregorian calendar. According to the Julian calendar the holiday falls on January 7th, and the New Year is celebrated on January 14th.
The date of the celebration – December 25 – was not chosen by chance. Fathers of the church believed that Christ, according to prophecy, was born during the winter solstice, on the shortest day on earth. St. Augustine writes that the birth of Christ symbolizes the ascent of the sun, described in Malachi 4: 2. That is why there is a belief that most Christians celebrate the holiday on December 25th because of the Roman Sun God. So the date does not have any connection with the birth of Jesus.
Christmas fun facts
The English word Christmas is a combination of two words: Christ, which means the Messiah, and mass, which means the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper.
Contrary to the general misconception, the word Xmas is not something new and is not an attempt to displace the word Christ from Christmas. The letter X is taken from the Greek alphabet. The letter X in the Greek language is “chi”.
The Japanese traditionally have a festive dinner in fast food restaurants KFC, thanks to the successful marketing campaign that started 40 years ago. KFC restaurants are so popular that the Japanese book tables for Christmas Eve two months in advance.
Government of Nazi Germany tried to turn the event in a non-religious holiday, replace Saint Nicholas on Odin and install the swastika on top of Christmas trees instead of traditional stars.
The US government sent special Christmas presents to prisoners of war in camps in Germany during the Second World War. They were playing cards, on which, if they become wet, prisoners could find detailed plans for escaping from camps.
Inhabitants of Oslo, Norway, annually send as a gift for the holiday to London. This is a live Christmas tree, to thank the English people for their help during the Second World War.
Jews wrote almost all of the most popular Christmas songs, including “Winter Wonderland”, “Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire “, and ” I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”.
In 1918 and the last 40 years, the inhabitants of the Canadian province Nova Scotia send the inhabitants of Boston a giant Christmas tree to express gratitude for the support after the Halifax Explosion. This disaster happened on 6 December 1917, when the Norwegian vessel SS Imo collided with the French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc.
Amazing Christmas facts
During the Christmas of 1914 (World War I), Germany and Great Britain made a truce. They decorated their homes, exchanged gifts on neutral territory and even played football with each other.
In 1867, an industrialist in Boston heard carols of Charles Dickens and was so emotional that he closed his factory for the high day and gave his employees some nice bonus.
Some zoos accept fir-trees after celebrating the gala day to feed their animals.
Charles Dickens grew up during The Little Ice Age and, therefore, it affected his oeuvre, called “White Christmas”.
Mormon missionaries can call home only twice a year: once for Mother’s Day and one for Christmas.
95% of all Americans celebrate Christmas (75% American Christians), and only 51% of them consider this holiday as religious.
There is a tradition in some village in Peru to celebrate ending of the old year at Christmas with fisticuffs. Then they have a common feast. They have a tradition starting the new year from scratch.
During Christmas time in Newfoundland, Canada, people change their clothes and sing carols around each house. They get treats for this.
Paul McCartney’s Christmas song brings him annually about $ 400,000. Nevertheless, it is recognized as one of the worst his songs.
The word Noël, often used in English in Christmas songs, in French means Christmas.
The tradition of giving gifts to children for Christmas came from the Bible story. It tells that the sages from the East brought presents to the newborn Jesus.
In some European countries, such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Germany, not only children receive Christmas presents … The state guarantees all workers a holiday bonus equal to a monthly salary!
The tradition to put and decorate a Christmas tree for Christmas appeared in Germany during the Protestant Reformation. According to some reports, Martin Luther was the first person who put an evergreen tree at home, decorating it with fruits and candles.
The modern well-known red Santa Claus costume appeared in the thirties of the last century. Marketers from Coca-Cola Company invented it for advertising goals.
Santa Claus got his name after St. Nicholas, a preacher of the 4th century. Born in a rich family, Nicholas, after repentance, gave all his property to the destitute and became a preacher of the Gospel.
Today, in many Muslim, Buddhist and communist countries, the religious holiday is completely forbidden.
Despite all the persecution and bans, this is the most celebrated, the largest and most decorated holiday in the world!
Trivia Christmas facts
The unusual postal code of Santa Claus in Canada is H0H 0H0.
In 1955, a store from the American city of Colorado Springs placed an ad before Christmas, inviting children to call Santa Claus. However, the phone number was indicated with an error. Therefore, the calls began to arrive at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The specialists did not hang up, but began to tell the children the coordinates of the place where Santa was flying at that moment. Since then, the military has made the reception of calls from children an annual tradition called “NORAD Tracks Santa”. Many volunteers do their best to support this event. Nowadays, from December 1 of each year you can receive the Santa Claus coordinates in real time on the official website of the program.
Every year inhabitants of the Swedish city of Gevle set up a huge straw goat, an invariable attribute of the well known holiday in the Scandinavian countries. Moreover, almost every year vandals try to burn or otherwise destroy the figure. Sometimes the police catch, fine or arrest them. Nevertheless, police officers succeed rarely. Since 1966, only 45% of goats have survived.
One of the Christmas traditions of the Catalans is the production of so-called kaganers – painted figures of urinating little men. One kaganer traditionally takes part to the scene of the birth of Christ, and the Catholic Church does not object to this. Figures can represent not only ordinary people, but also celebrities, including presidents and the Pope. The people’s satire embodies in kaganera the concept of equality of all people regardless of their social status.
The first Christmas cracker burst out in 1847. A certain Tom Smith, seller of sweets, invented this noisy and hilarious attribute of holidays. He put candies with finely chopped confetti inside each tube to make a surprise for his customers.
Every American kid knows the deer Rudolph. The truth is that it has never been a faithful assistant to Santa by chance. Advertisers created this famous and interesting holiday character in the 30s of the 20th century. Everyone liked this deer so much that it became traditional and well known.
There is a Christmas tradition to exchange kisses under a mistletoe tree. In ancient Scandinavia, mistletoe was associated with peace and friendship. Mistletoe is the traditional plant, which decorates the house for the holiday. According to Celtic and Teutonic legends, it protects from evil spirits and brings good luck.
Christmas trees have become popular in Britain since 1841, when Prince Albert installed a tree in Windsor Castle, following the German tradition. They have been a decoration for the New Year in Germany since the 8th century.
English Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell banned the holiday between 1647 and 1660, because he believed that such celebrations were immoral.
Oatmeal was the predecessor of modern Christmas puddings. It has some connection with the legend of the Celtic god Degda, who stirred oatmeal made up of all the good things on earth.
Wrapped in gold wrapper chocolate coins commemorate Saint Nicholas, who gave a bag of gold coins to the poor and became symbol of the high day.
In 1999, the inhabitants of Maine, a state in the northeastern United States, celebrating the feast-day, made the world’s largest snowman. It was 113 feet high.
Saint Francis was the first who showed a play about such an important fete day in 1224. In such a way, he wanted to explain the essence of the high day to his followers. It was then that he used the crib as an altar for the Christmas service.
Each people has their own traditions for this gala day: Finns go to the sauna, Australians and New Zealanders sit on the beach. Besides, Spaniards participate in a grand lottery. Moreover, Greeks believe that goblins appear on the earth during twelve Christmas days. Therefore they do not give each other gifts until January 1st.