Christmas Eve on December 24 kicks off a series of holiday traditions. Some are ancient practices with a modern spin, while others date back hundreds of years.
Around the world, Christmas Eve is celebrated with a variety of foods. In Italy, they celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes. Russians traditionally serve a 12-dish Christmas Eve Supper before opening gifts. Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, the Christmas Eve meal consists of an odd number of meatless dishes.
Besides food and religious services, the holiday is when Santa Clause takes to the sky in his sleigh to deliver Christmas gifts around the world. Other names for the white-bearded man in a red suit include Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, and Saint Nicholas. No matter what he is called, the legend of Santa is based on a real-life man named Saint Nicholas of Myra.
- “Jingle Bells” was written for Thanksgiving, not Christmas. The song was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont and published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh”.
- “Jingle Bells” was also the first song to be broadcast from space.
- Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.
- In Germany, Poland, and Ukraine, finding a spider or a spider’s web on a Christmas tree is believed to be a harbinger of good luck.
- Santa stretches time like a rubber band, in order to deliver all the gifts in one night. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there are 2,106 million children under age 18 in the world. If we assume that each household has in average 2.5 children, Santa would have to make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve, traveling 221 million miles. Given the different time zones, Santa has 36 hours to deliver gifts, therefore his average speed would be approximately 650 miles per second.
- According to data analyzed from Facebook posts and statuses, couples are more likely to end their relationship two weeks before Christmas and two weeks after Valentine’s day, during the spring break.
- Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner. Every Christmas, kids, and grown-ups head to the closest KFC to enjoy some fried chicken – the closest food to turkey that you can get in Japan. It’s all thanks to a successful “Kentucky for Christmas!” marketing campaign in 1947.
- The first artificial Christmas Tree wasn’t a tree at all. It was created out of goose feathers that were dyed green. The first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany in the 19th century, due to a major continuous deforestation.
- Iceland has 13 Santas and an old lady who kidnaps children. Christmas in Iceland is a colorful fusion of religion, fairy tales and folklore. Instead of one Santa, the kids are visited by 13 Yule Lads that either reward children for good behavior or punish them if they were naughty.
- Beginning Christmas Eve 1959, Swedish families gather and watch a Donald Duck Christmas special on public television.
- Candy Canes have an ulterior motive! A German choirmaster invented Candy Canes in the 1600s as a way to keep children quiet during the Christmas church ceremonies.
- On Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts read from the Bible to one of history’s largest TV audiences while circling the moon.
- Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone.
- All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.
- Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836
- Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.
- Oklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907
- There are two competing claims as to which president was the first to place a Christmas tree in the White House. Some scholars say President Franklin Pierce did in 1856; others say President Benjamin Harrison brought in the first tree in 1889. President Coolidge started the White House lighting ceremony in 1923
- President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1901.
- During the Christmas season, nearly 28 sets of LEGO are sold every second.
- Many of the most popular Christmas songs, such as “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” were written or co-written by Jews
- Assuming Rudolph was in front, there are 40,320 ways to rearrange the other reindeer.