Hello all my Secret Santa’s, it is the season to be… informed.
We all love Christmas, and all the things around it. The tree, the plum cake, the decoration and the gifts, but how much do we know about this glittery festival? With these amazing facts about the festival Christmas, test your knowledge about this holy festival as you read through.
Here are 5 facts about Santa Claus, Christmas around the world and Rudolph that you (probably) didn’t know.
During world war 2, there were approximately 1,000 Prisoner-of-War camps in Germany. Despite generally poor conditions, prisoners were permitted occasional deliveries of luxury items, particularly at Christmas. Knowing this, American and British intelligence agencies teamed up with the US Playing Card Company ‘Bicycle’ to create a special deck of cards to be given to all POWs as Christmas presents. The decks were made by hiding maps of top-secret escape routes between the paper layers that made up the cards. When socked in water, you could peel these layers apart and prisoners could flow the maps to safety. The creation of the cards was such a closely guarded secret that their existence wasn’t publically acknowledged until decades later.
Sadly, this means that we don’t know how many of the 250,000 Allied POW’s escaped Germany. Thanks to these decks and the holy festival of Christmas!!!
Different countries have a huge mix of different Christmas traditions and customs.
- In Island, Christmas folklore includes the thirteen ‘Yuletide Lads’ who are effectively the Icelandic version of Santa Claus. The creepiest of the Christmas characters is known as Gryla, the terrifying elderly mother of Yuletide Lads who kidnaps, cooks and devours naughty children.
- The Japanese also have a very weird tradition. Historically, the country doesn’t really celebrate Christmas but in perhaps the greatest marketing mover KFC decided to promote itself as THE place for Japanese festivities. It is estimated that 3.6 million households will have KFC as their Christmas feast in Japan this year.
- Then there is Catalonia in Spain, where nativity scene regular includes the figure if the ‘Caganer’, aka the defecating man. Although its origin is difficult to trace, one thought is that the figure could represent the fertilization of the land, ready for the ‘rebirth’ of mankind.
A 2012 survey of 2000 household found that the average family will have at least five arguments on Christmas Day with the most common source of friction being food preparation, alcohol consumption and choosing what to what on TV.
Yet, according to date analyzed from Facebook, the 25th December is the least popular day in the whole year for relationship break-ups.
Instead, there is a spike in the number of break-ups both two weeks before and two weeks after Christmas. In fact, the first working Monday of January is such a common day for relationship breakdowns that is has become known as ‘Divorce Day’. A poll conducted by legal firm Irwin Mitchell found that 1 in 5 married couples consider separating from their partners shortly after the Christmas period.
Planet Earth has become home to over 526 million children under the age of 14 who celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. Would it really be possible for Santa Claus to deliver presents to all these children on just one night? Well, of course not. Even though the International Date Line means that old Saint Nick would have 34 hours to complete his colossal task he would have to deliver to over 15 million kids an hour, 250,00 a minute or we can say 4297 kids a second. Furthermore, it is not really that much of a surprise that Santa can shake ‘his belly like a bowlful of jelly’ considering that the total number of cookies, mince pies and other treats left out for him around the world amount to 150 billion calories of food. He would also have to fork out a whopping 348 billion dollars to afford all the presents he has to give out.
But this would not be too much of a struggle, considering that Santa Claus tops the Forbes list of the world’s richest fictional people with his net worth of infinite.
In 2013, Norwegian scientist Odd Halvorson ‘diagnosed’ the reason behind Rudolph’s luminous red nose. He claimed that it was caused by a parasitic infection of the respiratory system which would probably be incredibly painful. But Rudolph nearly didn’t have his signature red nose at all. The character was created in 1939 by Robert L. May, as part of a coloring book to be sold at department store Montgomery Ward. Publishers were skeptical though, because of the association with red nose and alcoholism. This didn’t seem to bother customers, though, seeing as the coloring book sold 2.5million copies in its first year of publication.
The tradition of hanging stocking by the fireplace on Christmas Eve has been around the centuries, but its origin is difficult to trace. The most widely accepted story behind the iconic Christmas custom involves 4th century family and three daughters about to be forced into prostitution. The family’s father couldn’t afford suitable dowries for his three girls and so they had to turn into prostitution in order to get by.
St Nichols, the bishop who has been immortalized as the reputed inspiration for Santa Claus, heard of the family’s plight. In secret, he came to the house in the middle of the night. The door was locked so he dropped three pouches of gold down the chimney, where they landed in the stockings that had been drying by the fire.
Although, evidence for this story is limited and difficult to conclusively verify it does tie together the notion of the generous gift giver who works secretly at night, and the concept of stockings containing presents. Also, it was the origin of the phrase ‘ho, ho, ho’ Well probably not that last bit, but it’s nice to imagine.
Are you looking forward to Christmas or are you stressing out about all the shopping you have to do?