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December 8, 2015

10 Interesting Facts About Christmas and Its Traditions

It's the most wonderful time of the year, but have you ever wondered about some of the things we see and embrace at Christmas? Check out these 10 interesting facts about the December holiday have been gathered below...

1. Santa Claus

Santa Claus is one of the most beloved figures for many Christians. Santa, who goes by names such as Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas and Father Christmas, was known to be a man who was generous, especially to children, back in fourth century Myra, which is where Turkey is located now. St. Nicholas became known throughout Europe and eventually became the patron saint of Russia. He reportedly had a long white beard and a red cape. His legend of generosity continued in Holland. The Dutch spelt his name Sint Nikolaas, which eventually led to "Sinterklaas," and ultimately Santa Claus emerged when the Dutch came to America in the 17th century.

2. Christmas Tree

It's believed that Germans used dyed goose feathers to create the first Christmas tree. They also used to be decorated with roses, apples and different colored paper. Martin Luther was the first to put lights on the tree after he was inspired by the starlight reflecting off trees, All Things Christmas wrote. Electric Christmas lights were first used in 1895. The Christmas tree became popular in the U.S. after Germans immigrated in the late 19th century.

Christmas trees, which usually take 15 years to grow, have been sold in the U.S. since 1850. But back in 1912, people would not have seen one in the White House. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a devout environmentalist, forbid them.

3. Christmas Cards

The Christmas card originally appeared in England as a way for students to practice their handwriting. Sir Henry Cole apparently created the first Christmas card since he was too busy to write an individual note to every loved one in 1843. Today, more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. every year.

4. Christmas was Not Celebrated on Dec. 25 as the Birth of Christ Until 350 A.D.

In the fourth century, church leaders wanted a day to commemorate Christ’s birth. The Bible doesn't specify the date he was born, so Pope Julius I proclaimed it would be celebrated on December 25. Because celebrating Christ's birth isn't mentioned in the Bible and because December 25 coincided with pagan winter solstice festivals, some Christians disavowed the holiday. The Pilgrams didn't celebrate it, and Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday in the U.S. until 1870.

5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Montgomery Ward department store purchased and gave away Christmas coloring books to shoppers every year. In 1939, they decided to make their own and commissioned Robert May, a copyright, to develop a story for the coloring book. He created Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 2.4 million coloring books were distributed the first year. Ten years after Rudolph was created, Gene Autry recorded the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which was written by May's brother-in-law.

6. The U.S. Postal Service Has Been Answering Children's Letters to Santa for 100 Years

In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized the U.S. Postal Service to respond to children’s letters to Santa. By the 1940s, charitable organizations, companies and other community groups were invited to help respond the growing number of letters. According to the U.S. Postal Service, children often address their letters to "Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska," and many wish Santa a happy birthday.

7. "Jingle Bells" was Originally Named "One Horse Open Sleigh"

"Jingle Bells" is one of the best-known and commonly sung American Christmas songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857. Even though it is now associated with the Christmas and holiday season, it was actually originally written for American Thanksgiving. It has been claimed that it was originally written to be sung by a Sunday school choir; however, historians dispute this, stating that it was much too "racy" to be sung by a children's church choir in the days it was written.

8. "X" Means Christ in Greek

The "X" comes from the Greek translation of Christ, Χριστός, and "X" has historically used by artists and writers to symbolize Christ. Still, some have seen the use of Xmas as disrespectful.

9. Candy Canes were Originally All White

The candy cane was allegedly created in Germany in the 19th century when a choirmaster wanted to create something the children could enjoy during church service. He created an all-white candy in the shape of a shepherds crook as a reminder of the shepherds who visited Christ. The red stripe wasn’t added until later. Today, Bobs Candies (no apostrophe) is the largest manufacture of candy canes, and they also created the largest candy cane ever, an eight-foot-long striped cane that weighed more than 100 pounds.

10. The Christmas Colors

The Christmas colors red, green and gold all have meaning. Red represents the blood of Christ, green represents rebirth and gold represents royalty and light.


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