Christmasis an annual holiday that is celebrated on December 25.Christmas Day is a Christian holiday, but is widely celebrated by many non-Christians. Popular modern customs
include gift-giving, music, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations, including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly.I have collected some interesting facts surrounding the origins of Christmas.
In 1882, the first
known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was created by Edward H. Johnson, who was an associate of inventor Thomas
Edison. Johnson proudly displayed his Christmas tree, which was hand-wired with 80 red, white, and blue electric
incandescent light bulbs. In 1895, American inventor Ralph E. Morris invented electronic Christmas lights.They were small lights that could be used outside and were safer than using candles.
However, Christmas lights were too expensive for the average person and did not become the majority replacement
for candles until 1930.
Jimmy Boyd was only 12 years 11 months old when he recorded the hit single I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.The music and lyrics for the song were written by Tommie Connor.In 1952, Jimmy Boyd
took the song to the top of the charts.It became an industry phenomenon, selling over
two and a half million records in its first week's release. Jimmy's name became an international
household word, and he skyrocketed to the status of a major star.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus has reportedly sold over 60 million records worldwide.When first released, Jimmy's record was banned in Boston by the Catholic Church on
the grounds it mixed sex with Christmas.Boyd made worldwide news at 13-years-old when he went to
Boston and met with the leaders of the Church to explain the song to them. The following Christmas the ban was lifted by the Catholic Church.
Although many believe the
Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is not.The Friday and Saturday
before Christmas are the two busiest shopping days of the year in America.
During the Christmas buying
season, Visa cards alone are used an average of 5,340 times every minute in the United States.
Before settling on the
name of Tiny Tim for his character in A Christmas Carol, three other alliterative names were considered by Charles Dickens.They were Little Larry, Puny Pete, and Small Sam.Charles Dickens' initial choice for
Scrooge's statement "Bah Humbug" was "Bah Christmas."After "A Christmas
Carol," Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year, but none was as successful as the
The song White
Christmas performed by Bing Crosby is the best selling Christmas single in world history.After writing
the song, Irving Berlin is quoted as saying “I just wrote the best song that anybody has ever
written!"The first public performance of the song was by Crosby, on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall, on Christmas Day, 1941.In 1942 alone, Crosby's recording spent eleven
weeks on top of the Billboard charts. Bing Crosby's White Christmas single has been credited with selling 50 million copies.The Guinness
Book of World Records lists the song as a 100-million seller, encompassing all versions and releases of the tune.World sales figures are incomplete before 1958, so officially White Christmas is rated as the 2nd best-selling
single worldwide.Behind Elton John’s 1997 release Candle in the Wind.The
best selling Christmas album in history is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas (1945).The first holiday
album by saxophonist Kenny G titled Miracles: the Holiday Album is the greatest selling Christmas album in the last
The word Christmas
originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass".It is derived from the Middle English
Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.Christmas
Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in most countries of the world, even in many whose populations
are not majority Christian.In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced
the celebration, in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday.
There are two Christmas
Islands.The Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean was formerly called Kiritimati. Christmas
Island in the Indian Ocean is 52 square miles.
In 1752, 11 days were dropped
from the year when the switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar was made.The December
25, date was effectively moved 11 days backwards.Some Christian church sects and countries in
the world still celebrate Christmas on January 7.
The Tinkertoy Construction
Set was created in 1914 by Charles H. Pajeau and Robert Pettit in Evanston, Illinois.Pajeau,
a stonemason, designed the toy after seeing children play with pencils and empty spools of thread.Frustrated by the lack of interest in his new invention, Pajeau hired several midgets, dressed them in elf costumes, and had them
play with "Tinker Toys" in a display window at a Chicago department store during the Christmas season in 1914.This publicity stunt made the construction toy an instant hit. A year later,
over a million sets of Tinker Toys had been sold.
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
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.
The first printed reference
to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
The Blizzard of 1996
was a snowdrift that paralyzed the U.S. East Coast with up to 4 feet (1.2 m) of wind-driven snow over a three-day period
from January 6 to January 8, 1996.It was the largest snowfall of the century in the United States.
Christmas Facts From Around the World
According to the National
Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year.
The General Grant
tree is the largest Giant Sequoia in the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon National Park in California.It was named in 1867 after Ulysses S. Grant, Union Army general and the 18th President of the United States
(1869-1877).President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed it the "Nation's Christmas Tree" in
1926.The tree is the second largest tree in the world after the General Sherman tree, which is located
in Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park, California.The General Grant tree is over 300 feet (90
According to historical
accounts, the first Christmas in the Philippines was celebrated 200 years before Ferdinand Magellan discovered the country
for the western world, likely between the years 1280 and 1320 AD.In the Philippines Christmas
is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar.The country has earned the distinction for celebrating
the world's longest Christmas season.In the Philippines instead of Christmas trees they use holly
In Mainland China, December 25 is not a legal holiday.The small percentage of Chinese
citizens who consider themselves Christians observe Christmas. Many other individuals celebrate Christmas-like festivities
even though they do not consider themselves Christians. Many customs do exist, including sending
cards, exchanging gifts, and hanging stockings.
Taiwan, Christmas is not officially celebrated or legally recognized. However, coincidentally, December
25 is the date of the signing of the Constitution of the Republic of China in 1947, officially the Constitution
A unique feature of Christmas
in Japan is the Japanese type of Christmas cake, often a white whipped cream cake with strawberries.
traditions are based on Mexico's form of Roman Catholicism and popular culture traditions also called posadas.Over nine days, groups of townspeople go from door to door in a fashion of when the parents of unborn baby
Jesus Christ looked for shelter to pass the night when they arrived at Bethlehem, and are periodically called inside
homes to participate in the breaking of a gift-filled piñata. In many Mexican places, children receive gifts not on Christmas but on January
6, the Feast of the Epiphany, when, according to tradition, the Three Wise Men brought gifts to baby Jesus.At midnight on Christmas, millions of families place the figure of baby Jesus in their nacimientos
(Nativity scenes), as the symbolic representation of Christmas as a whole.
Christmas is a widely celebrated
holiday in the United States and Canada. Christmas traditions are essentially the same in the U.S. and most of Europe, except in Quebec and other French speaking areas, with its réveillon and the Père Noël ("Father
Christmas" in French).A réveillon is a long dinner, and possibly party, held on the evenings
preceding Christmas Day and New Year's Day.The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil
(meaning "waking"), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond.
In Australia, as
with all of the Southern Hemisphere, December 25th occurs during the height of the summer season.The
Australian traditions and decorations are quite similar to those of the United Kingdom and North America.
In some German-speaking
communities, particularly in Catholic regions of southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein, as well as
in other Catholic regions of Central Europe, the character of Santa is replaced by the Christkind (literally "Christ
child").He brings the presents not on the morning of December 25, but on the evening of December
24 (Holy Evening or Heiliger Abend). The Christkind is invisible; he is never seen by anyone. However,
he rings a bell just before he leaves in order to let children know that the Christmas tree and the presents are
In Germany the Christmas
tree is first put up and decorated on the morning of Christmas Eve.There culinary feast takes place
on Christmas Eve or on the first day of Christmas, and usually involves poultry (typically roast goose).
Since the 1880s,
the Christmas customs of Eastern Europe and Slavic countries have included a character known as Ded Moroz ("Grandfather Frost").According to legend, he travels in a magical troika, a decorated sleigh drawn by three
horses. With his young, blond assistant Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden, said to be his granddaughter)
at his side, he visits homes and gives gifts to good children.
Ded Moroz only delivers presents to children while they are asleep, and unlike Santa, he does not travel
down chimneys, coming instead to the front door of children's homes. It is traditional for children
to leave food for Ded Moroz.
In Italy Christmas decorations,
including the presepe, as well as the Christmas tree are usually put up on the 8th of December, a national holiday. On Christmas Eve it is customary not to eat any meat. Some people, especially in the South, celebrate
Christmas on the 24th; dinner traditionally consists of seafood.
In Russia Christmas is
celebrated on January 7.
In 1907, Oklahoma
became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.The first was Alabama in 1836.
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
In Britain, eating mince
pies at Christmas dates back to the 16th century.It is 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 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.
People Born on Christmas Day
1642 - Sir Isaac Newton: Mathematician
1890 - Robert Ripley: Created
It or Not!