Fun facts about Christmas
Don’t you just love Christmas? Getting together with loved ones, sharing gifts, endless food and celebrations full of joy and happiness. But have you ever found yourself wondering why Rudolph the reindeer has a red nose? What do people eat for Christmas dinner in China? Or how did the Fir tree become a ‘Christmas tree’? Every person follows a different set of traditions in this magical time of the year but no matter the culture or the place, the Christmas spirit seems to stem from traditions that help us celebrate the joy, love and goodwill of humanity.
Historically Christmas has marked the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25 but if you take a closer look at the Bible, you’ll notice there is no mention of the particular date so, historians believe that Jesus Christ was born in the spring.
Why choose this day then?
December 25 was probably chosen because it coincided with the ancient pagan festival Saturnalia, which honoured the agricultural god Saturn with feasts, gambling and gifts. Saturnalia was considered a great Roman festivity and one of the acts involved a sacrifice in Saturn’s Temple.
If you think about it, there is a lot about this wonderful time of the year that you may not know about. For example, did you know that during Christmas there is a village in Peru where young and old resolve their grudges through their fists? Why do we kiss under the mistletoe or give each other socks full of sweets? Singing angels? Or did you know that the word Noel derives from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” or “the good news”? And that Jesus was probably born in a cave and not in a wooden stable, according to biblical scholars?
The term Christmas comes from the Latin "Nativitas" which means birth. The official establishment of December 25 as "Christmas Day" occurred in the year 345. It was under the influence of St.John Chrysostom and St. Gregory Nazianzen when this date was proclaimed for the Nativity of Christ (although Jesus Christ was not born on December 25).
The Santa Claus or Santa Claus icon in Coca-Cola ads does not make up the origin of Santa's image. The reality is that the image of Santa Claus is more of a figure that has evolved over time, shaped by writers, artists and even historians. Thus, the images of the well-known fat, bearded man in a red suit appeared in magazines, posters and advertisements long before the cheerful portrait of this well-known brand of soft drinks. In addition, according to the book "One Night Stands with American History," Santa didn't always have a beard. It was the artist and cartoonist Thomas Nast who added the beard to the character on the pages of 'Harper's Weekly' during the latter part of the 19th century.
The Christmas star that usually crowns our Christmas trees comes from the Philippines. In this part of the world, torches are prepared in the form of five-pointed stars, which illuminate the entrance to homes.
Tradition claims that Three Wise Men from the East came from remote countries to pay homage to Jesus of Nazareth. They brought three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Melchior brought gold for its great value and beauty; Gaspar brought incense, a balsamic resin that when burning gives off a very pleasant aromatic smoke and Baltasar brought myrrh, an aromatic resinous substance with antiseptic, digestive and antidepressant properties.
Before Christmas lights were invented, now so traditional and indispensable in many homes, Christmas Firs were decorated with candles and apples. Lights, balls, a star and ribbons were added much later on to the tree.
Christmas had a slow start on the world stage. It wasn't until 336 A.D. that Roman bishops first recorded December 25 as the birth of Christ. Christmas took the place of thousands of ancient pagan winter solstice celebrations, humans added religious meaning to these festive symbols and continued joy under the name of Christmas.
It is believed that the Germans were the first to bring “Christmas trees’ into their homes during the holidays and decorate them with cookies and lights. It seems they set of an irreversible trend where the Fir tree will always be known as the Christmas tree.
Where do all these letters with children's wishes and dreams go to? All letters addressed to Santa Claus in the United States go to Santa Claus, Indiana. It's a town about 6,000 kilometers south of the North Pole, whose volunteers respond to letters sent by children and adults from around the world.
Today, more than 2 billion people in more than 160 countries consider Christmas to be the most important holiday of the year. In a country with as much tradition as the United States, 9 out of 10 people celebrate the holiday, even if they are not Christians.
The most important reason we give and receive gifts at Christmas is to symbolise the gifts that the 'three wise men', the Magi, gave to Jesus in the manger. But it can also come from Saturnalia's tradition that required followers to offer rituals to the gods.
Irving Berlin's song "White Christmas" is estimated to be the best-selling single in music history, with more than 100 million copies sold. (I'm dreaming of a white Christmas)