41 Fun Facts About Christmas
The first Christmas in the Philippines was celebrated 200 years before Ferdinand Magellan discovered the country for the western world... likely between 1280 and 1320 AD.
King Arthur made merry in York in 521 surrounded by minstrels, gleemen, harpists, pipe-players, jugglers, and dancers.
In 1836, Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday.
American billionaire Ross Perot attempted to airlift 28 tons of medicine and Christmas gifts to American POW's in North Vietnam in 1969.
The evergreen Paradise tree was decorated with apples as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve held on December 24th during the middle ages.
Austria issued the world's first Christmas stamp in 1937.
Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and it was traditional for churches to open their collection boxes and distribute cash to the poor.
Charles II revived the Christmas festival, but it wasn't until Victorian times that people became interested in singing carols again.
Starting around 1822, carols were taught in English churches and gradually spread throughoutthe United Kingdom. This tradition has continued ever since. It is also customary to give money to the carolers who wander the streets singing outside people's homes.
The first Christmas card was mailed in 1840 in Britain.
Christmas was once a movable feast celebrated at different times during the year. The choice of December 25 was made by Pope Julius I in the 4th century A.D., because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.
During the ancient 12-day Christmas celebration, the log that was burned was called the Yule log. Sometimes a piece of the Yule log would be kept to kindle the fire into the following winter to ensure that good luck carried on from year to year. The Yule log custom was handed down from the Druids.
The people of Oslo, Norway have given a Christmas tree to the city of Westminster, England every year since 1947. The gift is an expression of good will and gratitude for Britain's help to Norway during World War II.
Franklin Pierce was the first President of the United States to decorate an official White House Christmas tree.
George Washington spent Christmas night in 1776 crossing the Delaware River in dreadful conditions. Christmas in 1777 was little better. At Valley Forge, Washington and his men had a miserable Christmas dinner of fowl cooked in a broth of turnips, cabbage and potatoes.
Anyone caught having fun at Christmas between 1647 and 1660 was in trouble. Celebrating the holiday had been banned by the rather strict Puritans who were in power at the time.
Historians have traced some of the current traditions surrounding Father Christmas... Santa Claus... back to ancient Celtic roots. Father Christmas's elves are the modernization of the nature folk of Pagan religions. His reindeer are associated with the horned god, which was a Pagan deity.
The Romans began the custom of giving holly to each other as a winter season gift.
In 1551, playing sport on Christmas Day was illegal. The law was later ignored.
In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Festivities were banned by Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell, who considered feasting and revelry, on what was supposed to be a holy day, to be immoral. The ban was lifted only when the Puritans lost power in 1660.
In 1752, 11 days were dropped from the year when the switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar was made. December 25 was effectively moved 11 days backwards. Some Christian church sects called "old calendarists" still celebrate Christmas on January 7, which was December 25 on the Julian calendar.
In 1834, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was credited with bringing the first Christmas tree to Windsor Castle for the Royal Family. Some historians state that in actuality Queen Charlotte, Victoria's grandmother, recalled that a Christmas tree was in the Queen's lodge at Windsor on Christmas Day in 1800.
In 1907, Oklahoma became the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.
In the 1800s when Queen Victoria was on the throne, Boxing Day was also the day that some rich people would hand over boxes of gifts to the poor.
In the 19th century people still received Christmas cards through the post on Christmas morning.
In the Ammerschweier in Alsace, there was an ordinance that stated no person "shall have for Christmas more than one bush of more than eight shoe lengths."
Mark Carr brought trees from the Catskills to the streets of New York in 1851, and he opened the first retail Christmas tree lot in the United States.
Other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.
Postmen in Victorian England were popularly called 'robins'. This was because their uniforms were red. Victorian Christmas cards often showed a robin delivering Christmas mail.
Sixteenth century folklore credited Martin Luther as being the first to decorate an indoor tree. After a walk through a forest of evergreens with shining stars overhead, Luther tried to describe the experience to his family and showed them by bringing a tree into their home and decorating it with candles. Some historians state that the first evidence of a lighted tree appeared more than a century after Martin Luther's death in 1546.
The custom of the Christmas tree was introduced in the United States during the War of Independence by Hessian troops. An early account tells of a Christmas tree set up by American soldiers at Fort Dearborn, Illinois, the site of Chicago, in 1804. Most other early accounts in the United States were among the German settlers in eastern Pennsylvania.
The decorated Christmas tree can be traced back to the ancient Romans who during their winter festival decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture.
The first Christmas card was designed by a man named John Calcott Horsely for Sir Henry Cole, a friend who had given him the idea. A thousand copies of the card were printed and sold for one shilling. This is reportedly the first Christmas card to be produced and sold to the public. Today, the average person in Britain sends 50 Christmas cards each year.
The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
The first record of Christmas trees in America was for children in the German Moravian Church's settlement in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania during Christmas in 1747. Actual trees were not decorated, but wooden pyramids covered with evergreen branches were decorated with candles.
In 1856, Franklin Pierce was the first U.S. President to decorate a Christmas tree in the White House.
The modern Christmas custom of displaying a wreath on the front door of a home is borrowed from ancient Rome's celebration of New Year. Romans wished each other good health by exchanging branches of evergreens. They called these gifts strenae after Strenia, the goddess of health. It became the custom to bend these branches into a ring and display them on doorways.
The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season actually occurred before the birth of Christ.
Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
While working for inventor Thomas Edison, Edward Johnson had lights crafted especially for his Christmas tree leading to the popularization of Christmas tree lights.
In all probability, Ione Adams is the first woman to actually create Japanese Christmas Santa dolls made from antique kimonos and obis.