Top Ten Curious Facts About Christmas
Let’s admit it, people: Christmas is weird. And we’re all a bit weird for getting so excited about it, unless your actual idea of a perfect society is where a fat man in velvet breaks into your home to distribute gifts. Yes, it’s called the silly season for a reason, and sometimes the harder you look at something, the weirder and weirder it gets…
Although his fetching costume may have been a branding exercise by Coca-Cola, the figure of Santa Claus himself is at least partially based on Saint Nikolas of Myra, born in 270 AD (still some time before Coke was around). He spent his days swanning about what is now modern-day Turkey, performing miracles, and filling peoples’ socks with gold coins.
“Hold your sword! These men have done nothing naughty.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, author of crazy-popular fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, also wrote a bunch of letters to his children pretending to be Santa Claus. They were later compiled and published, giving scholars and conspiracy-theorists the totally excellent idea that Tolkien’s wizard, Gandalf the Grey, may in fact have been based on Santa Claus.
“Yule shall not pass.”
There is town in Indiana, in the US, called Santa Claus. This is what happens when people run out of names for things.
“Come sit on my GIGANTIC lap, children!”
“Jingle Bells” (and yes, you’re welcome, that will be stuck in your head now for the rest of the day) was actually written about Thanksgiving. It’s original title was “One Horse Open Sleigh” which is, to be honest, just not quite as catchy.
“Jingle all the… time?”
If you tally up the actual number of gifts given in the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, in total, this person’s “true love” is forking out over 364 individual presents. We can only imagine they must have had to employ a full team of present buyers, wrappers and wranglers, especially when you consider the fact that the majority of the gifts mentioned in the song are just live, wild animals.
“Now where did I put those milkmaids…”
The famous (and delicious) Christmas Day turkey is a recently new addition to the tradition of festive gorging. Up until about 1850, the standard Christmas Day fare was – wait for it – roast swan.
In Holland, rather than nailing a stocking up on the ol’ mantelpiece, they use shoes. We’re not sure if you’ve ever been to Holland, but December is not a good time to be walking around with only one shoe.
Dutch Santa has no comment.
In Poland, the spider is a symbol of happiness and health come Christmas-time. Why? Because apparently they believe that the baby Jesus’ blanket was made of spider webs. Thanks for the nightmare fuel, Poland.
“Nobody freak out. This is good luck in Poland.”
In 2011, UK chef Andrew Stellitano created the most expensive ever mince pie, estimated at around £3000. The pie’s ingredients included rare seasonings from remote African spice markets, holy water, and a special variety of sugar made from the secretions of sperm whales. The finishing touch was a solid platinum coin embedded in the filling, also making it the most expensive way of possibly choking to death at Christmas lunch.
“Pass the ketchup.”
Just last month, the Richards family from Canberra smashed the previous world record for the most home Christmas lights into more than half a million shiny, flashing pieces. The Richards hung 502,165 Christmas lights to raise money for SIDS, but might have contributed significantly to global warming in the process.
“One day, kids, all this will be yours…”