Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Fun Facts

• A full 77 percent of Americans say they say "Merry Christmas," according to a FOX News poll released last Tuesday, December 16. For some people it's a dilemma: 21 percent say they feel obligated to say "Happy Holidays" -- incorporating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and, perhaps, the Winter Solstice or the Seinfeldian Festivus into their seasonal hello, but they are still a considerable minority.

• The word Christmas is Old English, a contraction of Christ's Mass.

• The first president to decorate the white house Christmas tree in the United States was Franklin Pierce.

• Electric lights for trees were first used in 1895.

• The first Christmas cards were vintage and invented in 1843, the Victorian Era.

• "It's a Wonderful Life" appears on TV more often than any other holiday movie.

• "Rudolph" was actually created by Montgomery Ward in the late 1930's for a holiday promotion. The rest is history.

• "Jingle Bells" was first written for Thanksgiving and then became one of the most popular Christmas songs.

• If you received all of the gifts in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas", you would receive 364 presents.

• The poinsettia plant was brought into the United States from Mexico by Joel Poinsett in the early 1800's.

• The first state to recognize the Christmas holiday officially was Alabama

• Christmas became a national holiday in America on June, 26, 1870.

• Coca Cola was the first beverage company to use Santa for a winter promotion.

• An angel told Mary she was going to have a baby.

• Clearing up a common misconception, in Greek, X means Christ. That is where the word "X-Mas" comes from. Not because someone took the "Christ" out of Christmas.

• The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas' popularity throughout Europe. His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop's mitre. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.

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