Ahh, the Christmas season is here. Most people in the United States are familiar with Christmas holiday icons like the nativity, Santa Claus, eggnog and The Night Before Christmas, but you may not know some of these crazy, curious, Christmas facts.
- Christmas Mail: There is a town in Indiana called Santa Claus, and all postal service mail addressed to Santa is delivered there. How sweet! Maybe someday it’ll go to Christmas, FL, a small town between Orlando and Titusville.
- Spending: Holiday purchases account for 1/6th of all retail sales in the United States each year (good for business), but the average American requires six months to pay off their holiday shopping debt. Ouch! (Don’t be one of those people)
- Reading: Some of the most popular books ever written about Christmas are: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, and Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore. The three best-selling children’s Christmas books on Amazon.com are Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle , The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan Berenstain, and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
- Cards: Christmas cards originated in England where boys made them to practice their writing skills and gave them to their parents. The first Christmas card was invented in 1843 by British illustrator John Callcott Horsley at the behest of Sir Henry Cole.
- The White House: President Eisenhower issued the first official White House Christmas card in 1953. In 1961, the White House sent out 2000 cards. In 2005, it was up to 1.4 million. Your tax dollars at work 🙂
- The Twelve Days: Each year, PNC Wealth Management publishes the “Christmas Price Index”, a tongue-in-cheek calculation showing how much all the 12 Days of Christmas gifts – from a partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming – would cost given current market prices. In 2015, the cost of the twelve individual gifts was $34,130.99, but when added up each day (as the song requires) all 364 gifts cost $155,400. For comparison, in 2000, the cost was $15,210 for the twelve gifts and $73,984 for all 12 days added together. They’ve been publishing the calculation since 1984.
- True Love: By the way, the “true love” in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song refers to the Catholic code for God, not a romantic couple.
- Singing: The first true carols were developed in France, Germany and Italy in the 13th century and sung at community events and festivals of all kinds all year long. Later, they became associated with Christmas and were sung in churches. During the Protestant Reformation in the 1600s, Puritan leaders actually banned Christmas carols. They were later revived and many of our current favorite Christmas carols were written during the 1700s.
- Stockings: Many people enjoy the tradition of stuffing Christmas stockings, but did you know the origin of stuffing stockings with trinkets and fruit came from the very man we call Saint Nick. The story goes that Saint Nick heard about a man who had three daughters, but was so poor he did not have enough money for their dowries. The man feared his daughters would never be able to marry. Knowing the man would never accept charity face-to-face, Saint Nick decided to help him out by sneaking down the man’s chimney to leave gold coins for each of the girls. Once in the house, Ol’ Saint Nick saw that the girls had left stockings hanging by the fireplace to dry, so he put the gold coins in the stockings. The next morning the girls found their stockings filled with treasure and were able to get married after all.
- Christmas Celebrations in the US were originally banned by the Puritan pilgrims until it was legalized in the 1680s. At this point, Christmas gift giving boomed in the US with hand carved wooden toys and handmade needlework.
- World Records: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest human Christmas tree ever arranged consisted of 4,030 people who gathered in appropriately-colored attire on December 19, 2015 in India.
- Real Trees: Meanwhile the world’s tallest real live cut Christmas tree was a 67.36 m (221 ft) tall Douglas fir erected and decorated in Seattle, Washington in December 1950.
- Foodie Facts: You might think the traditional Christmas meal in the United states is roasted turkey and dressing, much like at Thanksgiving, but that depends on where you live. In Virginia, its oysters and ham pie, in the upper midwest it might be lutefisk, in the southwest its tamales and empanadas. By the way, the most popular modern Christmas Day food in the United Kingdom is roast potatoes (Turkey is #3).
- 1770s: That said, traditional Christmas Day meals in the 1770s included chilled crab gumbo, creamed celery with pecans and and eggnog pie. When‘s the last time you had any of those on your Christmas day table?
- Deck the Halls: According to Linda Allen, author of Decking the Halls: Folklore and Traditions of Christmas Plants, mistletoe is named after “the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means ‘little dung twig’ because the plant spreads though bird droppings.” Think about that the next time you steal a kiss under the mistletoe.
Do you have some favorite Christmas trivia? We’d love to hear it. Share it in our comments below.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you.