Saturday, December 17, 2011

25 Christmas Facts 2011

  1. The percentage of pet owners who have their dog or cat pose and photographed with Santa Claus stands at 27%
  2. 364 is the amount of  presents would you receive if you were to get every present in “The 12 Days of Christmas”
  3. Father Christmas has 2 addresses: Edinburgh, and the North Pole. Letters addressed as 'Toyland' or 'Snowland' go to Edinburgh, but those addressed to The North Pole have been sent there because there really is such a place.
  4. After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
  5. Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.
  6. "Wassail" comes from the Old Norse "ves heill"--to be of good health. This evolved into the tradition of visiting neighbors on Christmas Eve and drinking to their health.
  7. Greeks do not use Christmas trees or give presents at Christmas. A priest may throw a little cross into the village water to drive the kallikantzari (gremlin-like spirits) away. To keep them from hiding in dark, dusty corners, he goes from house to house sprinkling holy water.
  8. In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by one of the Wise Men's camels. The gift-giving camel is said to have been the smallest one in the Wise Men's caravan.
  9. Long before it was used as a "kiss encourager" during the Christmas season, mistletoe had long been considered to have magic powers by Celtic and Teutonic peoples. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility. Celts hung mistletoe in their homes in order to bring themselves good luck and ward off evil spirits.
  10. The "Twelve Days of Christmas" was originally written to help Catholic children, in England, remember different articles of faith during the persecution by Protestant Monarchs. The "true love" represented God, and the gifts all different ideas:
    The "Partridge in a pear tree" was Christ.
    2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
    3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity-- the Theological Virtues
    4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
    5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which relays the history of man's fall from grace.
    6 Geese A-laying = the six days of Creation
    7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
    8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
    9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
    10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
    11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
    12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
  11. Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch conservationist, banned Christmas trees in his home, even when he lived in the White House. His children, however, smuggled them into their bedrooms.
  12. Gift giving, Christmas drinks, Christmas Cards and many other Christmas traditions are not modern gifts of capitalism (though capitalism sure does love it) – they actually come to us via the Ancient Romans who exchanged all of those things on New Year’s Day (Strenae, named after Strenia the goddess of New Year’s gifts). This was initially shunned by the Church (“(Do not) make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom].” -St Eligius, 7th century) but old habits die hard and it eventually transferred to Christmas.
  13. That one small word causes anger amongst many people; many Christians consider it to be disrespectful to replace Christ’s name with an ‘x’ – even going so far as to that that it is a ploy by anti-Christians to de-Christianify Christmas. However, Xmas is almost as old as the feast it refers to – the ‘x’ is actually the Greek letter chi which is the first letter of Christ’s name in Greek (Χριστός). Xmas is every bit as religious as Christmas.
  14. Germany made the first artificial Christmas trees. They were made of goose feathers and dyed green.
  15. More diamonds are sold around Christmas than any other time of the year.
  16. "It's a Wonderful Life" appears on TV more often than any other holiday movie.
  17. The first church the Dutch built in New York City was named in St Nicholas' honour -St Nicholas Church.
  18. America's official national Christmas tree is located in King's Canyon National Park in California. The tree, a giant sequoia called the "General Grant Tree," is over 300 feet (90 meters) high. It was made the official Christmas tree in 1925.
  19. Before settling on the name of Tiny Tim for his character in "A Christmas Carol," three other alliterative names were considered by Charles Dickens. They were Little Larry, Puny Pete, and Small Sam.
  20. Contrary to common belief, poinsettia plants are non-toxic.
  21. The American Puritans wanted to make the festival of Thanksgiving Day the prime festival instead of Christmas.
  22. Listen to the song "Twelve Days of Christmas" and count the number of gifts in the song. You will realize that gifts were exchanged 364 times. Thus the gifts are exchanged everyday of the year.
  23. Warning: Christmas shopping may be hazardous to your health. If you are an avid Christmas shopper statistics have concluded that you will be elbowed at least three times while shopping. Ouch!
  24. The annual Christmas pudding was more than just a tasty treat. Small items were placed in them which had the power to predict what the New Year would bring. Coins were associated with a gain in wealth, a ring was a sign of an imminent marriage and a button signified extended bachelorhood. This idea actually goes back to the middle ages where the cake being served on the Twelfth Night would come complete with a hidden bean. Whoever found this bean was declared “king” for that one night.
  25. Jingle Bells" was first written for Thanksgiving and then became one of the most popular Christmas songs.







     

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