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Tinsel was invented in Germany in 1610 and was once made of real silver.

Every year on December 25th, over 2 billion people around the world celebrate Christmas Day. Traditionally, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Nonreligious people and those of different faiths celebrate the day as a cultural event.

Also known as Christmas Day, this holiday is derived from the Old English Crīstesmæsse which means Christ’s Mass. Today, Christmas is a public holiday in most countries. Only about a dozen countries do not recognize Christmas as a public holiday. Christmas traditions vary around the world and have evolved over time. They borrow from other traditions and cultures, too. Over time, beliefs and customs blended as people migrated and attitudes changed.

  • 1066 – King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day.
  • 1640 – Scotland abolished the observance of Christmas (until 1958 when it became a legal holiday).
  • Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) is believed to have been the first President to put a Christmas tree in the White House.
  • Christmas trees were banned by President Teddy Roosevelt in the White House in 1901 because the President was concerned about the environmental effects, but his sons decorated a small tree cut on the White House grounds and hid it in a closet until Christmas morning.
  • 1915 – Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards.
  • Boston, Massachusetts receives a tree from Nova Scotia, Canada because of the support given to the city of Halifax in 1917 when they experienced an explosion and fire disaster.
  • The people of London receive a tree for Trafalgar Square from the people of Oslo, Norway every year to thank them for their assistance during World War II.
  • During World War II, the Bicycle playing card company made decks of cards and gave them to the prisoners of war in Germany with hidden escape routes revealed when the cards were soaked in water as Christmas presents.
  • 1962 – the United States issued the first Christmas postage stamp.
  • It is believed Germany began the tradition of the Christmas tree. Additionally, tinsel, which was once made of actual silver, is traced to 1610 in Germany.
  • Ever wonder about the string on a box of animal crackers? Introduced around Christmas in 1902, the string was intended to be used to hang the cracker boxes on your Christmas tree.
  • Fruitcakes last a long time intentionally. They were originally baked at the end of harvest and some of the cake was saved to be eaten at the beginning of the harvest the following year as people thought that would bring a good crop. It is the sugar and alcohol combination that helps them last so long.
  • Rudolph the Reindeer was created by the U.S. department store Montgomery Ward to get children to buy Christmas coloring books, however, his nose was not red as they did not want him to appear as a chronic alcoholic.
  • Our image of Santa Claus has some interesting origins. Early pictures of St. Nicolas show him with a stern expression. Santa Claus originally appeared in a newspaper ad. Washington Irving is credited with creating Santa’s flying sleigh in 1819 and cartoonist Thomas Nast began illustrating our current image of Santa in Harper’s Weekly in 1863.
  • All of the items in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” total 354 gifts.
  • Brenda Lee was only thirteen years old when she recorded “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” in 1958.
  • Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol was written in six weeks. On the internet, IMDB lists 202 various A Christmas Carol film adaptations, including films with non-traditional stories.
  • Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is the best-selling Christmas song with more than 50 million copies sold around the world.
  • Many people abbreviate Christmas “Xmas,” which is actually based upon X being the first letter of Jesus Christ’s name in Greek.
  • About $1,000 is spent on Christmas gifts each year by the average American family.
  • The Rubik Cube, the largest selling Christmas toy in 1980, sold for $1.99, but now sells for nearly $10.
  • While shopping during the Christmas season, shoppers use their Visa cards more than six thousand times every minute.
  • If you are really into recycling, you can eat your Christmas tree. The needles provide vitamin C. You can also eat pine nuts, if your tree comes with pinecones! Some Christmas trees become food for zoo animals.
  • Mistletoe was an ancient symbol of virility, so someone stood under it if they were available to the opposite sex.
  • Nearly six million dollars are spent during the holiday season on ugly Christmas sweaters.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • “White Christmas”, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Winter Wonderland”, “The Christmas Song” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” plus the melody for “O Holy Night” were all written or co-written by Jews.
  • NORAD’s “Santa Tracker” was born from a misprint in the newspaper. A 1955 Sears ad was supposed to print the number of a store where children could call and tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. The number printed was to the hotline of the Director of Operations for the U.S. Continental Air Defense. Colonel Shoup ordered his staff to give the children updates on the flight coordinates of Santa.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – was the first song sung by astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra in space, on December 16, 1965.
  • Santa Claus originally appeared in a newspaper ad. Washington Irving is credited with creating Santa’s flying sleigh in 1819 and cartoonist Thomas Nast began illustrating our current image of Santa in Harper’s Weekly in 1863.
  •  Our modern day Santa Claus has to travel at more than the speed of light to deliver gifts to all the kids in the world and he would have 31 hours (considering all the time zones) on Christmas day to get his favorite job done.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the US by the French on Christmas day in 1886. It weighs 225 tons and thus you could consider it as the biggest Christmas gift in the world.
  • Did you know that the first Christmas was celebrated on December 25, AD 336 in Rome?
  • More than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone, every year.
  • The Friday and Saturday before Christmas are the busiest shopping days and not the Black Friday.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • In the world, there are two islands that are named ‘Christmas’ – one is in the Pacific Ocean and the other in the Indian Ocean.
  • Paul McCartney’s Christmas song is widely regarded as the worst of all the songs he ever recorded yet he earns $400,000 a year off of it.
  • Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.
  • 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. The holiday period begins 13 days before Christmas and each day one of the 13 Yule Lads comes to houses and fills the shoes that kids leave under the Christmas tree either with sweets and small gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on how that particular child has behaved on the preceding day.
  • Leaving food for Santa originated with Norse children, who left food out for Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir. Dutch children left food in their wooden shoes for St. Nicholas’ horse, although historically there is no mention of St. Nick having a horse. Now, American children leave cookies and milk for Santa. Other children around the world leave hay, carrots, and water for Santa’s reindeer.
  • Twenty-eight sets of LEGOS are sold every second during the Christmas season.
  • The Internet lists nearly fifty funny Christmas songs, including “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Christmas Don’t Be Late” (the Chipmunk Song), and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Ice Breaker Ideas

The Fact File

Past Book

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