It is that most wonderful time of the year: Christmas! It’s also time for Christmas trivia!
Every year, we gather in November and December to warm up and spread good cheer and keep up with traditions. Have you ever wondered how some of these traditions started?
If you’ve ever been curious about Christmas, this article is for you.
Keep reading to learn 15 surprising Christmas trivia facts. It’ll make you a trivia wonder at the Christmas dinner table this year.
1. Santa Claus Didn’t Start with a Newspaper Ad
There’s an urban legend that says that the image of Santa Clause we know and love was actually created by Coca-Cola’s ad team in 1931.
That’s not actually true. The image of the jolly old man appeared before then, no one can seem to point to one image that started it all.
2. A Time of Cheer and…Injuries
In the U.S. the holiday season can be hazardous for one’s health. In 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that there were 15,000 injuries stemming from holiday decorations.
The most common injuries were falls, cuts, and back strains. On top of that, there were on average 200 fires that started with the Christmas tree between 2009 – 2011.
3. The Yule Log Tradition
If you grew up in the New York City area, you’ll have fond memories of the Yule Log on WPIX. It was a Christmas tradition from 1966 – 1989, ever since the general manager of the station created it as a way to give time off to station employees.
The original yule log was a 17-second clip on a continuous loop shot in Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence. It was a creative way to bring the fireplace experience to the city’s apartment dwellers.
Even though it was discontinued in 1989, the station brought it back in 2001.
4. We Wish You a Merry Christmas Was Meant as a Threat
When we sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” it gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling.
The song goes back to the 1500s and highlights the disparity between the rich and the poor.
The poor carolers would sing “bring us some figgy pudding” and threatened that “we won’t go until we get some.
5. NORAD Tracks Santa Because of a Typo
Every year, on Christmas Eve, excited children track the whereabouts of Santa Claus. Thanks to the folks at NORAD, we can call and track Santa online.
Did you know that NORAD started tracking Santa because of a typo? The tracking tradition actually started with an ad by Sears Roebuck in a Colorado Springs newspaper. There was a typo in the ad, leaving unsuspecting children (and parents to call the Continental Air Defense Command.
The colonel on duty played along and it’s been a tradition ever since.
6. The Birth of Jesus Wasn’t December 25
The Bible doesn’t mention when Jesus was born. Some biblical scholars think that he was born in spring, not at the beginning of winter.
December 25 became the official celebration of the birth of Jesus when Pope Julius I declared it in 350 c.e.
7. Christmas Trees Didn’t Appear in the U.S. Until the 1830s
Christmas trees originally appeared in homes in Germany. It wasn’t until the 1830s when the tradition reached the U.S. and Britain.
However, the tradition didn’t truly take hold until Prince Albert brought a tree to Queen Victoria in Windsor Castle.
Due to the ‘royal effect,’ everyone started to put trees in their home during the holidays.
8. Reginald the Blue-Nosed Reindeer?
Our most favorite reindeer was the result of a marketing campaign by Montgomery Ward in Chicago.
The copywriter working on the campaign nearly named him Reginald. Montgomery Ward executives were worried about the red nose, as a red nose was seen as a sign of someone being drunk.
They stuck with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the rest is history.
9. The Festival of Outdoor Lights
Germany also started the tradition of lighting the Christmas tree, although they used candles in the 17th century. In Eastern Europe, Christian families would light candles in their windows to indicate that other Christians were welcome to worship with them.
It wasn’t until 1880 when electric outdoor Christmas lights became a thing. Thomas Edison the very first outdoor light display at his laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey.
10. Washington Irving Turned Sinterklauss into Santa Claus
The writer Washington Irving is one of the few people who can be credited for the creation of Santa Claus. It was actually meant as a jibe at Dutch settlers in New York City, who celebrated St. Nick’s Day or Sinterklauss.
11. The Tallest Christmas Tree
The tallest Christmas tree ever was a Douglas Fir tree that was cut and set up in Seattle, WA. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the massive tree measured 67.36 meters (221 feet).
The record has stood since 1950, when the tree was decorated at the Northgate Shopping Center.
Imagine trying to decorate the top of that tree?
12. The Best and Worst Time to Break Up
Christmas is the best and worst time to break up, according to Facebook. The company examined posts made during the course of a year. They found that the most common time to break up is two weeks before Christmas.
If you make it to Christmas Day, you’re safe as that’s the least likely day for couples to call it quits.
13. Why Are There 12 Days of Christmas?
In the U.S., the holiday season lasts from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Typically, once Christmas is over, the season tends to wind down.
In Europe, Christmas is just the beginning and celebrations last until Three Kings Day on January 6.
14. What the “12 Days of Christmas” Song Truly Represents
Here’s a piece of Christmas trivia that not many people know. The popular Christmas carol the “12 Days of Christmas” was written as a code for Catholics in England.
Catholics in England weren’t allowed to practice their faith from 1558 – 1829. The song was written for young Catholics as a part of the catechism.
Each day in the song had a different meaning. For example, the 10 lords a-leaping referred to the 10 commandments. The four calling doves were the gospels of Luke, John, Matthew, and Mark.
15. The Christmas Lottery
Spain’s Sorteo de Navidad or Christmas Lottery is the biggest in the world and the second longest-running.
Lottery ticket sales start in July for the lottery, and the tickets cost EUR200 each. The total prize money available in 2015 was EUR2.53 billion. It’s been held every year since 1812, even throughout the Spanish Civil War.
Christmas Trivia to Rock Your Next Party
We hope you enjoyed these fun Christmas trivia facts. The next time you’re out and about, you can impress your friends and family with these facts. Just like you’re rocking that fancy Christmas sweater.
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