Christmas Facts

20 Christmas Traditions & Facts

  1. The Christmas tree was not originally a Christmas Tradition. It was first an ancient practice where people g1brought evergreens into their home, during the Winter Solstice, as part of celebrating the future ‘greening’ of plants in the Spring.
  2. The first person to put lights on a Christmas Tree was most likely Martin Luther. The man who infamously started and kicked off the Protestant deformation.
  3. In pagan times, Holly was thought to be a male plant and Ivy a female plant. An old tradition from the Midlands of England says that whatever one was brought into the house first over winter, tells you whether the man or woman of the house would rule that year! But it was unlucky to bring either into a house before Christmas Eve.
  4. Holly’s prickly leaves represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. The berries are the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns. In Scandinavia it is known as the Christ Thorn.
  5. In A.D. 350, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ. This was so that the Christians would have a set time for the celebration of Christ, but also to compete with the Roman celebration of Saturnalia.
  6. Saturnalia was a tradition some Christians still liked to partake in, and it is probably because of this that most of the traditions of celebrating Saturnalia are incorporated into Christmas.
  7. Christmas Carols stem from the Catholic Church’s support of public Christmas hymns, starting in the 4th century.
  8. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, Italy, in an attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving. The nativity scene created by St. Francis is described by St Bonaventure in his Life of Saint Francis of Assisi written around 1260. Staged in a cave near Greccio, St. Francis’ nativity scene was a living one with humans and animals cast in the Biblical roles. Pope Honorius III gave his blessing to the exhibit.g1
  9. Candy Canes have been around since the 1670s. They originally were just sugar sticks that choir directors would give to small children that couldn’t help from crying during the liturgy.
  10. Later to connect them more closely to Christ, the sticks were curved over at the top to represent shepherd crooks. Christ is our Shepherd!
  11.  When Christianity became widespread in Europe after the third century AD, the religious or mystical respect for the mistletoe plant was integrated to an extent into the new religion. In some way that is not presently understood, this may have led to the widespread custom of kissing under the mistletoe plant during the Christmas season. The earliest documented case of kissing under the mistletoe dates from 16th century England, a custom that was apparently very popular at that time.
  12. Christmas is a contraction of “Christ’s Mass,” which is derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse (first recorded in 1038). The letter “X” in Greek is the first letter of Christ (Χριστός), and “Xmas” has been used as an abbreviation for Christmas since the mid 1500s, if not earliet.
  13. The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
  14. Many European countries believed that spirits, both good and evil, were active during the Twelve Days of Christmas. These spirits eventually evolved into Santa’s elves, especially under the influence of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas(1779-1863) illustrated by Thomas Nast (1840-1902)
  15. In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations because 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.
  16. The poinsettia is native to Mexico and was cultivated by the Aztecs, who called the plant Cuetlaxochitl (“flower which wilts”). For the Aztecs, the plant’s brilliant red color symbolized purity, a tradition that carried into its Christian use today.
  17. Santa Claus is based on a real person. St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, read more: here.
  18. Christmas stockings allegedly evolved from three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry g1and were, therefore, doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved, however, when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra (the precursor to Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.
  19. The earliest known Christmas tree decorations were apples. At Christmastime, medieval actors would use apples to decorate paradise trees (usually fir trees) during “Paradise Plays,” which were plays depicting Adam and Eve’s creation and fall.
  20. 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.”

Sources

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