Interesting Facts About Christmas

Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December and commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.

The word Christmas is derived from the Old English word “Cristes maesse” which literally translates to Christ’s Mass.

Many consider it disrespectful to replace Christ’s name with an ‘X’ considering it shorthand at best and at worst removes Christ from Christmas. However, Xmas is almost as old as the feast to which it refers – the ‘X’ is the Greek letter chi which is the first letter of Christ’s name in Greek (???????).

In the early Church, Christmas was not celebrated as a major feast. The first evidence of the Church attempting to put a date on the day of Christ’s birth comes from 200 AD, when theologians in Alexandria decided it was the 20th of May. By the 380s, the Church in Rome was attempting to unite the various regions in using December 25th as the universal feast day, and eventually that is the day that stuck. As so often was the case in the early Church, the influence of the pagan feasts of Rome is seen, because December 25 was the festival for the birth of the sun, the Saturnalia festival. St Cyprian makes mention of this: “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born.”

During the reformation of the 19th century Church leaders grew concerned with Christmas’ association with paganism and some Protestants distanced themselves from the tradition. Puritan British Prime Minister Oliver Cromwell outlawed Christmas celebrations and carols in England from 1649-1660. The only celebrations allowed were sermons and prayers. The 20th century brought a general acceptance of the tradition despite the criticisms that were originally set against it.

The tradition of gift-giving is strongly associated with Paganism. The Roman festival of Saturnalia featured periods of gift-giving and the practice was later incorporated into the traditional Christmas celebrations. The gifts started out very modest and evolved to include more elaborate expressions of love. This was not met with full acceptance by some Christians who disliked the Pagan connection. However, supporters of gift-giving, likened the activity to that of the Magi, who gave gifts to baby Jesus, in this regard it became symbolic and necessary to the grand tradition of Christmas.

“Santa Claus became a part of the Christmas tradition around the Middle Ages, however, his part in Christmas was not popularized until after he was depicted as a jolly stout old man wearing a red and white suit in the 19th century. This figure of Santa was immediately captured by celebrants all over. The character of Santa Claus is said to be inspired by Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop, who went around giving the poor children of his village gifts. The legend of Santa centers in the North Pole and his magical workshop of elves. Every year he makes presents for those children who were nice. Those who were naughty received nothing but a lump of coal. The figure of Santa has become inseparable from the tradition of Christmas on a whole.”

If you counted all the gifts given in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” you would reach a total of 364, thus a gift for each day of the year.

The “true love” mentioned in the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” does not refer to a romantic couple, but the Catholic Church’s code for God. The person who receives the gifts represents someone who has accepted that code. For example, the “partridge in a pear tree” represents Christ. The “two turtledoves” represent the Old and New Testaments. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas 

Christmas By The Numbers –

95% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas

93% of Americans exchange gifts

74% of Americans attend parties

88% of Americans put up trees

65% of Americans attend religious services

Americans buy 25-30 million real Christmas trees every year.

There are 350 million Christmas trees growing in the US.

The top Christmas-tree producing states are North Carolina, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Trees are grown in all 50 states.

Americans send 1.5 billion Christmas cards a year.

This day, the eve of Christmas Eve, over one third of the Americans are traveling. Bloomberg News

America produces 1.76 billion candy canes each year. Laid end to end would get you almost three quarters to the moon.

The world’s largest Christmas present was the Statue of Liberty. The French gave it to the US in 1886. It is 46.5 meters high and weighs 225 tons.

It is estimated that “White Christmas” written by Irving Berlin and performed by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with over 100 million sales worldwide. Encyclopedia of Christmas

Visa Cards are used 5,340 times a minute during Christmas time.

December 26th was traditionally known as St Stephen’s Day, but is more commonly known as Boxing Day. This expression came about because money was collected in alms-boxes placed in churches during the festive season. This money was then distributed during to the poor and needy after Christmas.

Christmas purchases account for 1/6 of all retail sales in the US.

Christmas stockings allegedly evolved from three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry and were, therefore, doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved, however, when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (the precursor to Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.

Merry Christmas and “God bless us, every one!” Tiny Tim (Charles Dickens)