Facts About Christmas
Christmas was once illegal in England. In 1643 the Puritans outlawed all Christmas celebrations, banned the keeping of Christmas trees, and criminalized the singing of Christmas carols. These laws were maintained until the English monarchy was restored. (source)
The largest Christmas tree ever is one erected in Brazil in 2007. It was 269 feet (82 metres) tall and was lit with 2.8 million bulbs. (source)
At Christmas, Judge Tom DuBois of Columbia City, Tennessee strikes a deal with minor offenders. He lets them off provided they show up in court and sing a Christmas carol. (source)
Throughout history, many religions have had a celebration that falls close to the date of Christmas. In ancient Rome there was the Saturnalia. In ancient Egypt the midwinter festival in honour of the god Horus. In Judaism there is Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. In pre-Christian Scandinavia, there was the Feast of the Frost King. In England the Druids had an annual mistletoe-cutting ceremony. In Hinduism, the feasts of Diwali and Taipongal are observed near the Christmas season. Many other civilizations have had similar festivals. (source)
In much of the British Commonwealth, the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. It was originally called that because, traditionally, on that day, Christmas boxes placed in churches for casual contributions were opened and the contents distributed to the needy. (source)
Perhaps the most famous person born on Christmas Day is Sir Isaac Newton (born in 1642), the famous scientist and mathematician. Other notable people born on Christmas Day include Robert Ripley, author of Ripley's Believe it or Not! (born 1890), actor Humphrey Bogart (born 1899), singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffet (born 1946), vocalist Annie Lennox (born 1954), and baseball player Ricky Henderson (born 1958). (source)
In 1975, when a sanitation strike just before Christmas resulted in the streets of New York City being awash in garbage, two women, Nancy Reardon and Mrs. Michael Moriarity, created a Christmas tree on the sidewalk made of 30 plastic garbage bags. The decorations were made from garbage as well. (source)
There are several Christmas-related unusual place names in the United States of America. They include Christmas, Florida, North Pole, Alaska, Santa Claus, Indiana, Santa Claus, Georgia, Noel, Missouri, and Snowflake, Arizona. (source)
Originally, the first line to Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" was "I'm sitting by a pool in Beverly Hills dreaming of a White Christmas." A friend suggested dropping the reference to Beverly Hills, and the song went on to become the most commercially successful song ever. (source)
Many traditions for the holidays of Christmas, Easter, and Halloween/All Saints' Day were created between roughly the 4th and 7th centuries to compete with pagan traditions. For example, All Saints' Day was created by fourth-century missionaries as a rival to the Celtic holiday Samhain, with its new traditions designed to portray the rival pagan gods as devils, spirits, and witches.
In the United Kingdom, it is still illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day, according to a seventeenth-century law. (source)
The first artificial Christmas trees were made in Germany from goose feathers that had been dyed green.
No record exists of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th before the year 336. (source)
The practice of exchanging gifts at Christmas originated in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. During this holiday, people gave each other good-luck presents of fruit, sweets, pastry, or gold. (source)
The Christmas carol "Do You Hear What I Hear?" was written in October 1962 as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. (source)
Electric Christmas lights were invented in 1895 by Robert Morris. Morris, a telephonist, was inspired by strings of lights that were made to be used in telephone switchboards.
In the First World War, during Christmas 1914, along many areas of the Western Front, many German and British soldiers stopped fighting each other and mingled with each other, exchanging food and small gifts. Some even sung carols or played soccer together.
When King John ascended the English throne in 1199, he gave one of the most fantastic Christmas parties recorded. 200 gallons of various wines, 400 oxen, 1,000 capons, 1,000 eels and 200 lampreys were devoured by his hungry guests.
Around 1,900,000,000 Christmas cards are given in the United States of America yearly, making it the largest card-sending occasion in the country. The second-largest is Valentine's Day, with approximately 192 million cards being given. (source)
In all likelihood, December 25th is not the birthdate of Jesus. Most scholars believe that the date of December 25th was chosen for Christmas because it coincided with both the winter solstice on the Julian calendar of the time and the birthdates of Mithras, the Persian sun-god, and Sol Invictis, another sun-god, and was near the pagan feasts of Saturnalia and the New Year. (source)
On Christmas Day, 1066, William the Conquerer was crowned at Westminster Abbey. After the Archbishop of York placed the crown on William's head, he asked the assembled Saxon nobles if they would recognize the King as their true liege lord. The shout of acclamation that went up so alarmed the Norman soldiers on guard outside, and they took it as a cry of rejection and dashed into the congregation with drawn swords and attacked them. Soon the fighting spread to the crowd outside and by the end of the day the streets of London were strewn with the bodies of the dead and dying, illuminated by the glare of burning buildings.