Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Christmas Trivia

Carrie and I spent probably too long watching the Sounds of the Season digital cable music channel on her TV this Thanksgiving (very nice, but too much "adult contemporary" Christmas--desperately needed some Chipmunks or Beach Boys), a channel that also showed us Christmas trivia. Here are some things we learned. (Yes, I have a good memory. And, yes, I looked some of the trivia up on the Google to get additional facts.)

* Tinsel is linked to spider webs. Apparently, a mother once cleaned the house for Christmas, including all the spiders, but they snuck out at night and danced all over the Christmas tree because it was pretty. When the Baby Jesus came by, he loved the spiders (because he made them), but he also didn't want the mother upset at the spider webs, so he touched them and made them shimmer like silver. Ta-dah.

* Montgomery Wards invented Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

* The white of the candy cane symbolizes purity. Three red stripes are for the Trinity, one big red stripe for Christ's blood.

* Holly was originally called the "holy tree." The blood of Christ dripped onto the berries to make them red, while the leaves became pointed like the crown of thorns.

* Originally Donner and Blitzen were Dunder and Blixem, meaning "thunder and lightning" in Dutch.

* Santa Claus was invented by the Coca-Cola company.

* Christmas Trees were meant to represent the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Presents are placed under the tree to represent when Adam and Eve "presented" themselves to the Lord when they realized they were naked. Originally presents were only given to those who had a grievance with you.

* The Twelve Days of Christmas were the Christian attempt to outdo the nine nights of the Jewish holiday Hannukah.

* The original song for "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was sexual in nature, meant to be sung between a husband and wife ("my true love"). Most of the euphemisms speak for themselves once you realize this (drummers drumming, pipers piping, ladies dancing, maids milking, golden rings); however, some of them were altered slightly (because they were too blunt when this became a children's song) or have no meaning in modern times. "Lords leaping" was originally "lovers leaping," "swans swimming" was "tongues swimming," "calling birds" referred to prostitution and/or mistresses of the husband, a "French hen" was a style of dildo similar to an Arab strap, "two turtle doves" was simply "two healthy breasts," and "a partridge in a pear tree" was a reference to a man's penis planted between the healthy breasts.

* Wreaths were hung in Roman times for victory in war. Wreaths were hung for Christmas to show Christ's victory over Satan/death.

* X is "Chi," a Greek letter used as an abbreviation for Christ, which is how we get "Xmas."

* The yule log was originally whittled into the shape of a penis and was offered by the husband as a sacrifice to appease and fool the gods who accepted actual penises in return for a prosperous year.

* The idea of the Christmas club -- a savings account for Christmas shopping -- was suggested in 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison.

* In the year 2003, only 15% of trees bought were real.

* Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday, in 1836.

* The day after Thanksgiving is not actually the busiest shopping day of the year. The actual busiest shopping day is not a constant, but changes every year--usually a day falling between May and August. The highest the day before Thanksgiving ever reached was the tenth busiest.

* Historians suggest that Christmas day, the day Christ was born, was actually October 14.

* Animal Crackers are made with strings on the boxes so they can be hung on Christmas trees.

* In 1822, holiday card and package mailing had gotten so out of hand that there was a law passed that limited individuals to fifteen pieces of mail in the month of December.

* In one of the oldest Christmas traditions (now extinct), the family would sit for Christmas dinner and wait for their most honored guest to eat first--but their most honored guest was meant to be Christ himself, so they waited in quiet for him to arrive and eat. Since of course he never showed up, it became the tradition for families to sit silently at the dinner table, hungry in front of their food, until they fell asleep.

* The traditional Christmas bird was originally not the turkey, but the peacock.

* The name "Tiny Tim" was the fourth choice for Dicken's A Christmas Carol, after considering Little Larry, Puny Pete, and Small Sam.

* Parts of the Christmas tree are edible.

* Christmas trees have to be cultured for their full branches. Trees grown in the wild are known by the industry as "Charlie Brown Trees."

* A lost tradition of Christmas is a magical nymph-like creature named Bungo who made halos from the light of baby laughter and was said to be the inventer of candy and other sweet treats.

* Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915. They founded in 1910 as manufacturers of wallpaper.

* It is a British tradition that no vehicle is to be used on Christmas day.

* In World War II, if a soldier placed holly on his uniform during the month of December, it was an underground code between soldiers from both sides that they forgave each other and would meet each other in heaven if they should have to kill one another.

* Christ was born in a cave, not a wooden stable, since animals were kept in caves because of the intense heat.

* More babies are born on Christmas day than any other major holiday. There are usually about half as many suicides as babies born.

* Washington Irving was the first person to use the expression "Christmas carol" in his work The Sketch Book.

* Christmas was originally celebrated on the same day as Halloween in many countries.

* Saying "Merry Christmas" was originally a form of sarcasm, showing that one actually had a hatred for the holiday. It has sense become sincere.

Merry Christmas!