As we are currently surrounded by all things Christmas, I thought it would be fun to dig into some Christmas Trivia. Here goes…
- All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.
- The “true love” mentioned in the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” does not refer to a romantic couple, but the Catholic Church’s code for God. The person who receives the gifts represents someone who has accepted that code. For example, the “partridge in a pear tree” represents Christ. The “two turtledoves” represent the Old and New Testaments.
- Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeer shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female.
- In A.D. 350, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ.
- The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
- Bolivians celebrate Misa del Gallo or “Mass of the Rooster” on Christmas Eve. Some people bring roosters to the midnight mass, a gesture that symbolizes the belief that a rooster was the first animal to announce the birth of Jesus.
- In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations because according to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas.
- Christmas has its roots in pagan festivals such as Saturnalia (December 17-December 23), the Kalends (January 1 -5, the precursor to the Twelve Days of Christmas), and Deus Sol Invictus or Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun (December 25). The Christians church heartily disapproved of such celebrations and co-opted the pagans by declaring December 25 as Christ’s day of birth, though there is no evidence Christ was born on that day.
- Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra (also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, and Nikolaos of Bari), who lived during the fourth century. Born in Patara (in modern-day Turkey), he is the world’s most popular non-Biblical saint, and artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint except Mary. He is the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, pirating, butchery, sailing, thievery, orphans, royalty, and New York City.
- The first person to decorate a Christmas tree was reportedly the Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). According to legend, he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree, he brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children.
- Christmas purchases account for 1/6 of all retail sales in the U.S