Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Facts, Part 3

Well here are the last of the Christmas facts that I came across. I really learned a lot!  Hope you enjoyed them as well.

http://www.corsinet.com/braincandy/xmastrivia.html

In 1907, Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.




In 1937, the first postage stamp to commemorate Christmas was issued in Austria.



In 1947, Toys for Tots started making the holidays a little happier for children by organizing its first Christmas toy drive for needy youngsters.



In 1996, Christmas caroling was banned at two major malls in Pensacola, Florida. Apparently, shoppers and merchants complained the carolers were too loud and took up too much space.



In an effort to solicit cash to pay for a charity Christmas dinner in 1891, a large crabpot was set down on a San Francisco street, becoming the first Salvation Army collection kettle.



In America, the weeks leading up to Christmas are the biggest shopping weeks of the year. Many retailers make up to 70% of their annual revenue in the month preceding Christmas.



In Armenia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of fried fish, lettuce, and spinach. The meal is traditionally eaten after the Christmas Eve service, in commemoration of the supper eaten by Mary on the evening before Christ's birth.



In Britain, eating mince pies at Christmas dates back to the 16th century. It is still believed that to eat a mince pie on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas will bring 12 happy months in the year to follow.



In Britain, the Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551, which has not yet been repealed, states that every citizen must attend a Christian church service on Christmas Day, and must not use any kind of vehicle to get to the service.



In Finland and Sweden an old tradition prevails, where the twelve days of Christmas are declared to be time of civil peace by law. It used to be that a person committing crimes during this time would be liable to a stiffer sentence than normal.



In France, Christmas is called Noel. This is derived from the French phrase "les bonnes nouvelles," which means literally "the good news" and refers to the gospel.



In Greek legend, malicious creatures called Kallikantzaroi (also spelled Kallikantzari) sometimes play troublesome pranks at Christmas time. According to the legend, to get rid of them, you should burn either salt or an old shoe. Apparently the stench of the burning shoe (or salt) drives off the Kallikantzaroi. Other effective methods include hanging a pig's jawbone by the door and keeping a large fire so they can't sneak down the chimney.



In Guatemala, Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25; however, Guatemalan adults do not exchange gifts until New Year's Day. Children get theirs (from the Christ Child) on Christmas morning.



In Medieval England, Nicholas was just another saint - he had not yet been referred to as Santa Claus and he had nothing to do with Christmas.



In North America, children put stockings out at Christmas time. Their Dutch counterparts, however, use shoes. Dutch children set out shoes to receive gifts any time between mid-November and December 5, St. Nicholas' birthday.



In Norway on Christmas Eve, visitors should know that after the family's big dinner and the opening of presents, all the brooms in the house are hidden. The Norwegians long ago believed that witches and mischievous spirits came out on Christmas Eve and would steal their brooms for riding.



In Portugal, the traditional Christmas meal (consoada) is eaten in the early hours of Christmas Day. Burning in the hearth is the Yule log (fogueira da consoada). The ashes and charred remains of the Yule log are saved; later in the year, they are burned with pine cones during Portugal's thunderstorm season. It is believed that no thunderbolt will strike where the Yule log smoke has traveled.



In southern France, some people burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure a plentiful harvest the following year.



In Sweden, a common Christmas decoration is the Julbock. Made from straw, it is a small figurine of a goat. A variety of straw decorations are a usual feature of Scandinavian Christmas festivities.



In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by one of the Wise Men's camels. The gift-giving camel is said to have been the smallest one in the Wise Men's caravan.



In the British armed forces it is traditional that officers wait on the men and serve them their Christmas dinner. This dates back to a custom from the Middle Ages.



In the Netherlands, Christmas centers on the arrival of Saint Nicholas, who is believed to come on horseback bearing gifts. Before going to bed, children leave out their shoes, hoping to find them filled with sweets when they awaken.



In the Thomas Nast cartoon that first depicted Santa Claus with a sleigh and reindeer, he was delivering Christmas gifts to soldiers fighting in the U.S. Civil War. The cartoon, entitled "Santa Claus in Camp," appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 3, 1863.



In the Ukraine, a traditional Christmas bread called "kolach" is placed in the center of the dining table. This bread is braided into a ring, and three such rings are placed one on top of the other, with a candle in the center of the top one. The three rings symbolize the Trinity.



In Victorian England, turkeys were popular for Christmas dinners. Some of the birds were raised in Norfolk, and taken to market in London. To get them to London, the turkeys were supplied with boots made of sacking or leather. The turkeys were walked to market. The boots protected their feet from the frozen mud of the road. Boots were not used for geese: instead, their feet were protected with a covering of tar.



It is a British Christmas tradition that a wish made while mixing the Christmas pudding will come true only if the ingredients are stirred in a clockwise direction.



It is estimated that 400,000 people become sick each year from eating tainted Christmas leftovers.



Jesus Christ, son of Mary, was born in a cave, not in a wooden stable. Caves were used to keep animals in because of the intense heat. A large church is now built over the cave, and people can go down inside the cave. The carpenters of Jesus' day were really stone cutters. Wood was not used as widely as it is today. So whenever you see a Christmas nativity scene with a wooden stable -- that's the "American" version, not the Biblical one.



La Befana, a kindly witch, rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys into the stockings of Italian children. The legends say that Befana was sweeping her floors when the three Wise Men stopped and asked her to come to see the Baby Jesus. "No," she said, "I am too busy." Later, she changed her mind but it was too late. So, to this day, she goes out on Christmas Eve searching for the Holy Child, leaving gifts for the "holy child" in each household.



Long before it was used as a "kiss encourager" during the Christmas season, mistletoe had long been considered to have magic powers by Celtic and Teutonic peoples. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility. Celts hung mistletoe in their homes in order to bring themselves good luck and ward off evil spirits.



Mistletoe, a traditional Christmas symbol, was once revered by the early Britons. It was so sacred that it had to be cut with a golden sickle.



More diamonds are purchased at Christmas-time (31 percent) than during any other holiday or occasion during the year.



More than three billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States.



Myrrh is an aromatic gum resin which oozes from gashes cut in the bark of a small desert tree known as Commifera Myrrha or the dindin tree. The myrrh hardens into tear-dropped shaped chunks and is then powdered or made into ointments or perfumes. This tree is about 5-15 feet tall and 1 foot in diameter. Legend says Caspar brought the gift of myrrh from Europe or Tarsus and placed it before the Christ Child. Myrrh was an extremely valuable commodity during biblical times and was imported from India and Arabia.



New York City's Empire State Building's world famous tower lights are turned off every night at midnight with the exception of New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Patrick's Day, when they are illuminated until 3 a.m.



On Christmas Day, 1989, Eastern Europe was permitted to celebrate Christmas freely and openly for the first time in decades. Church masses were broadcast live for the first time in history.



One Norwegian Christmas custom begins in late autumn at harvest time. The finest wheat is gathered and saved until Christmas. This wheat is then attached to poles made from tree branches, making perches for the birds. A large circle of snow is cleared away beneath each perch. According to the Norwegians, this provides a place for the birds to dance, which allows them to work up their appetites between meals. Just before sunset on Christmas Eve, the head of the household checks on the wheat in the yard. If a lot of sparrows are seen dining, it is suppose to indicate a good year for growing crops.



One notable medieval English Christmas celebration featured a giant 165-pound pie. The giant pie was nine feet in diameter. Its ingredients included 2 bushels of flour, 20 pounds of butter, 4 geese, 2 rabbits, 4 wild ducks, 2 woodcocks, 6 snipes, 4 partridges, 2 neats' tongues, 2 curlews, 6 pigeons, and 7 blackbirds.



Originally, Christmas decorations were home-made paper flowers, or apples, biscuits, and sweets. The earliest decorations to be bought came from Nuremburg in Germany, a city famous for the manufacture of toys. Lauscha in Germany is famous for its glass ornaments. In 1880, America discovered Lauscha and F.W. Woolworth went there and bought a few glass Christmas tree ornaments. Within a day he had sold out so next year he bought more and within a week they, too, had sold. The year after that be bought 200,000 Lauscha ornaments. During the First World War supplies of ornaments from Lauscha ceased, so American manufacturers began to make their own ornaments, developing new techniques that allowed them to turn out as many ornaments in a minute as could be made in a whole day at Lauscha.



Per a November 2000 Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans thought they would spend at least $500 that year on Christmas gifts. This was a slight drop from 1999 gift-spending.



Postmen in Victorian England were popularly called "robins." This was because their uniforms were red. The British Post Office grew out of the carrying of royal dispatches. Red was considered a royal color, so uniforms and letter-boxes were red. Christmas cards often showed a robin delivering Christmas mail.



Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message to the nation was televised for the first time on December 25, 1957. For the next 40 years, the BBC aired the event.



Right behind Christmas and Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday ranks as the third-largest occasion for Americans to consume food, according to the National Football League.



Santa's Reindeers are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.



Silent Night was written in 1818, by an Austrian priest Joseph Mohr. He was told the day before Christmas that the church organ was broken and would not be prepared in time for Christmas Eve. He was saddened by this and could not think of Christmas without music, so he wanted to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music. He sat down and wrote three stanzas. Later that night the people in the little Austrian Church sang "Stille Nacht" for the first time.



Since the 1840s, the residents of Pietarsaari, a town on Finland's coast, have decorated a Christmas street, Storgatan, since the 1840s. Suspended over the street are three large illuminated decorations: a cross symbolizing faith, an anchor representing h



St. Nicholas was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early fourth century. It was the Dutch who first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and Dutch settlers brought him to America where his name eventually became the familiar Santa Claus.



Telesphorus, the second Bishop of Rome (125-136 AD) declared that public Church services should be held to celebrate "The Nativity of our Lord and Saviour." In 320 AD, Pope Julius I and other religious leaders specified 25 December as the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ.



There are more fun facts at the link I posted above!
Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday filled with love and joy!
 
Lacey Thorn
It's your world...unlaced
http://www.lacythorn.com/

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