Stuff you probably know about Christmas but may have forgotten
The word Christmas is Old English, a contraction of Christ’s Mass.
The first president to decorate the white house Christmas tree in the United States was Franklin Pierce.
Germany made the first artificial Christmas trees. They were made of goose feathers and dyed green.
Electric lights for trees were first used in 1895.
The first Christmas cards were vintage and invented in 1843, the Victorian Era. (You can read more about the history of Christmas Cards here.)
“It’s a Wonderful Life” appears on TV more often than any other holiday movie.
Rudolph” was actually created by Montgomery Ward in the late 1930’s for a holiday promotion. The rest is history.
The Nutcracker” is the most famous Christmas ballet.
Jingle Bells” was first written for Thanksgiving and then became one of the most popular Christmas songs.
If you received all of the gifts in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” you would receive 364 gifts.
The poinsettia plant was brought into the United States from Mexico by Joel Poinsett in the early 1800’s.
Holly berries are poisonous.
Contrary to common belief, poinsettia plants are non-toxic. However you shouldn’t eat one to see if we are correct.
Mistletoe was chosen as Oklahoma’s state flower in 1893 and later changed to the state floral emblem.
In 1843, “A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens in just six weeks.
The first state to recognize the Christmas holiday officially was Alabama.
Christmas became a national holiday in America on June, 26, 1870.
An angel told Mary she was going to have a baby.
Clearing up a common misconception, in Greek, X means Christ. That is where the word “X-Mas” comes from. Not because someone took the “Christ” out of Christmas.
Traditionally, Christmas trees are taken down after Epiphany.
More diamonds are sold around Christmas than any other time of the year.
The idea for using electric Christmas lights came from an American named Ralph E. Morris in 1895. The new lights proved safer than the traditional candles, which often started fires by falling in the dry Christmas trees.
The use of a Christmas wreath as a decoration on your front door, mantel or bay window symbolizes a sign of welcome and long life to all who enter.
Today poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant and are the number one flowering potted plant in the United States.
The poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower, originally grew in Mexico, where it is also known as the ‘Flower of the Holy Night’. Joel Poinsett first brought it to America in 1829.
The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon is the leading producer of Christmas trees – 8.6 million in 1998.
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. Again, we aren’t saying to go and nibble on your Christmas Tree…but we are confident they are edible. Also note : You should never under any circumstances try to eat an artificial tree!
The best selling Christmas trees are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Balsam fir and white pine.
For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.
Artificial Christmas trees have outsold real ones since 1991.
Candy canes began as straight white sticks of sugar candy used to decorated the Christmas trees. A choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral decided have the ends bent to depict a shepherd’s crook and he would pass them out to the children to keep them quiet during the services. It wasn’t until about the 20th century that candy canes acquired their red stripes.
During the Christmas/Hanukkah season, more than 1.76 billion candy canes are made.
Candy canes have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until around 1900 that they were decorated with red stripes and bent into the shape of a cane. They were sometimes handed out during church services to keep the children quiet. One story (almost certainly false…it has been repeated often enough that many will believe it is true) that is often told about the origin of the candy cane is as follows: In the late 1800’s a candy maker in Indiana wanted to express the meaning of Christmas through a symbol made of candy. He came up with the idea of bending one of his white candy sticks into the shape of a Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols of Christ’s love and sacrifice through the Candy Cane. First, he used a plain white peppermint stick. The color white symbolizes the purity and sinless nature of Jesus. Next, he added three small stripes to symbolize the pain inflicted upon Jesus before His death on the cross. There are three of them to represent the Holy Trinity. He added a bold stripe to represent the blood Jesus shed for mankind. When looked at with the crook on top, it looks like a shepherd’s staff because Jesus is the shepherd of man. If you turn it upside down, it becomes the letter J symbolizing the first letter in Jesus’ name. The candy maker made these candy canes for Christmas, so everyone would remember what Christmas is all about.
The tradition of gifts seems to have started with the gifts that the wise men (the Magi) brought to Jesus. As recounted in the book of Matthew, “On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
In 1836, Alabama was the first state in the USA to declare Christmas a legal holiday.
In 1856, President Franklin Pierce decorates the first White House Christmas tree.
In 1907, Oklahoma became the last USA state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.
In 1937, the first postage stamp to commemorate Christmas was issued in Austria.
The biggest selling Christmas single of all time is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.
St Francis of Assisi introduced Christmas Carols to formal church services. Christmas caroling began as an old English custom called Wassailing – toasting neighbors to a long and healthy life.
The word carol is derived from the old French word caroler which derives from the Latin choraula. This itself was derived from the Greek choraules.
A traditional Christmas dinner in early England was the head of a pig prepared with mustard.
After “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year, but none was as successful as the original. The four ghosts in Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” were the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, Christmas Yet to Come, and the ghost of Jacob Marley (former partner of Scrooge).
The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9, 1842. Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company. An average household in America will mail out 28 Christmas cards each year and see 28 eight cards return in their place. More than three billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States.
In America in 1822, the postmaster of Washington, DC, complained that he had to add 16 mailmen at Christmas to deal with cards alone. He wanted the number of cards a person could send limited by law. “I don’t know what we’ll do if this keeps on,” he wrote.