As the “most wonderful time of the year” approaches once more, the annual Christmas checklist is of course revived. John Lewis advert…check, a ridiculously large Coca-Cola lorry convoy singing ‘that’ song…check (must remember to tell everyone i know that i’ve seen the advert), lots more lightbulbs…check, and cold weather…in abundance.
But! You may be surprised to know that Christmas hasn’t always been so routine. There was once a time that Santa was green, Christmas was cancelled and Rudolph was but a glint in the eye of an advertiser. To show you the slightly more off-piste (skiing reference, winter, snow…oh nevermind) side to Christmas, we thought we’d pull together our Top 10 unusual facts about Christmas. Read them, study them, wow your friends at this year’s Christmas party…
1 The 25th December – Happy Birthday Jesus…wait?
Well, The Bible never actually says when Jesus was born. It was in the 4th century that the Catholic Church decided to recognize Jesus’ birth with the Feast of the Nativity on December 25th.
2 Mary, we need to talk…what is it Joseph?
According to Facebook, around two weeks before Christmas is one of the most popular times of the year for couples to break up. Christmas itself, however, is one of the least likely days for a breakup. Evidently it’s a lot easier to open presents than it is to buy them.
3 Stop this fun now!
By an Act of Parliament in 1644 Christmas was declared illegal in England due to the fact that it was associated with revelry and merrymaking. I repeat…at one point Christmas WAS ILLEGAL.
4 The Christmas Curtain-raiser
As ubiquitous as it is today, before 1224 there was no such thing as a nativity scene. Upon returning from Israel St. Francis of Assisi was inspired to re-create the birth of Jesus with live animals and actors. During that first display, the manger was also used as an altar for Christmas Mass. From there, the nativity caught on like wildfire.
5 The season of goodwill and large trees
Every year since 1947 Oslo has sent a Christmas tree to London as an expression of gratitude for the United Kingdom’s help in World War II. Lovely chaps.
6 The 364 days of Christmas?
Next time you get a chance to listen to the 12 Days of Christmas try to count all of gifts that are exchanged. If you do it right you’ll notice that there are 364 in total, one for each day of the year (if you don’t include Christmas!?).
7 Superhero Santa
According to UNICEF, there are 2,106 million children under the age of 18 in the world. If you do the math it works out to about 842 million stops that Santa would have to make on Christmas Eve, meaning he would have to travel about 221 million miles total. In order to reach every stop that night he would need to go from house to house in less than 1/5,000 of a second, requiring an acceleration of 12.19 million miles per second every time.
8 Dear North Pole…
Every year North Pole, Alaska gets hundreds of thousands of letters from children all over the world. Volunteers from the small town of 1,600 make an effort to reply to every letter that has a return address.
9 Christmas Truce of 1914
On the morning of December 25th, 1914, German soldiers on the western front stepped out of their trenches and walked towards Allied troops calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. What followed was one of the greatest expressions of camaraderie in history. Soldiers mingled, exchanged cigarettes, and even played a game of football.
10 Ground Control to…Santa
Jingle Bells was the first song sung in space. Yes, that’s a true story. On December 16th, 1965, astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra decided to contact Mission Control with notice of a strange object travelling from north to south in a polar orbit. News came in of a pilot wearing a red suit, and the two then proceeded to broadcast the first ever song from space, Jingle Bells, played on a smuggled harmonica and bells. Wonderful.
Well there you have it, Christmas isn’t so straightforward after all! Do you know any Christmas facts worth sharing? Post them in the comments section below, we’re off to post a letter to Alaska, fingers crossed we made the nice list!