Christmas is just around the corner and lights are already up, Churches are already being decorated and people are already out on the streets preparing themselves for the big day.
Christmas is one of the most lavish festivals in the world and while we are all busy selecting the perfect clothes and most thought provoking gifts, we must remember it is also a time to revisit the teachings of Jesus and make some commitments.
On a separate note, to commemorate this festive season, I bring to you some of the interesting facts related to Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone, and happy reading.
1. December 25 is largely observed as the day when Jesus was born.
However, the Bible is totally silent about it. There is no mention in Bible about the date of birth of Jesus. Most Christians would agree on it.
2. Christmas was first celebrated on December 25, 336 AD in ancient Rome.
3. The celebration of Christmas actually has its roots from the Pagan festival of Saturnalia.
The Romans replaced Saturnalia with Christmas to spread Christianity among the Pagans.
4. Saturnalia was a festival in ancient Rome where people used to roam naked, could rape in public and get drunk.
They also used to worship nature.
5. Christmas tree that we see today is a reminder of Saturnalia.
Though most of the other aspects of Saturnalia has been lost, the tree reminds us that during Saturnalia trees used to be worshipped.
6. Because of its pagan and not religious roots, Christmas was banned from 1659 to 1681 in Boston.
7. The reason people give gifts to each other on Christmas is because of when Jesus was born.
Three wise men came and offered gifts to baby Jesus.
8. The ‘star’ that we seen over people’s houses during Christmas symbolises the ‘star’ that was seen by the three wise men at the time of birth of Jesus which guided them to the place where Jesus was born.
9. Santa Claus is not a Biblical character and has nothing to do with Christmas.
10. Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas. He was a 4th century AD Bishop who was born in present day Turkey.
He had inherited a great wealth and was known to give it away. That’s why we see the generous side of Santa Claus.
11. When St. Nicholas died, and his story reached far and wide, he became a legend.
His name in Dutch became Sint-Nicolaas or Sinter Klaas for short which eventually went on to become Santa Claus.
12. St. Nicholas used to roam at nights in disguise and listen to people.
Legends has it that one night he overheard a man worrying about his inability to pay dowry for the marriage of his oldest daughter. With an intention to help, he dropped a bag of gold through the chimney of his house. The bag was caught by a stocking that was kept for drying by the fire. Thus begun the story of Santa Claus pushing gifts through chimneys and into stockings.
13. The reason St. Nicholas used to give away gifts in disguise is most possibly because of Christ’s teaching of giving gifts without blowing trumpets so that to please people.
Jesus Christ preached to give gifts in secret.
14. Early illustration of St. Nicholas used to depict him as a stern person holding a rod.
He was more of a symbol of discipline and punishment.
15. The modern jolly and overweight look of Santa Claus that we saw today was created in the year 1804 by one John Pintard at a meeting of the New York Historical Society.
16. Though historically Santa Claus had worn blue, white and green clothing, his traditional red clothing that we saw today came into existence only in 1930s when coca-cola started using his image in their ads.
17. The image of Santa Claus flying in a sledge pulled by reindeers was actually a dream that renowned author Washington Irving saw in 1819.
18. Traditionally, Santa Claus’ sleigh is led by eight reindeers.
But in the 20th century, the Montgomery Ward department made the addition of another with a red nose as a gimmick to attract children to buy colouring books.
19. The names of the eight traditional reindeers besides the new inclusion Rudolph are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Duner and Blixem.
20. The first person believed to have decorated a Christmas tree was protestant reformer Martin Luther King.
It is said that he was so moved by the shining stars between the branches of a tree that he brought it home and decorated it with lights and gifts to recreate the image for his children.
21. France gifted USA the Statue of Liberty on the day of Christmas in the year 1886 making it one of the biggest and most famous Christmas presents ever.
22. The first Christmas card was introduced in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant in UK.
23. It is believed that it was Edison’s assistant that came up with the idea of decorating Christmas trees with lights.
24. In Japan, people book seats in KFC weeks before Christmas.
It is a tradition in Japan to eat in KFC during Christmas.
25. ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby is the highest selling Christmas song ever and has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.
26. There are two islands in the word that are named ‘Christmas’.
One is in Pacific Ocean while the other is in Indian Ocean.
27. A law in Britain makes it mandatory for each person to visit Church on Christmas day and you are not supposed to use a vehicle to visit Church.
Nevertheless, the law is just on papers.
28. If Santa Claus were to visit every child on the world to deliver gifts to each of them, he would have to travel more than the speed of light to get his job done.
And he might possibly travel through time into the future.
29. The famous song ‘Jingle Bells’ was written by American James Pierpont.
It was meant for ‘Thanksgiving’ and not Christmas.
30. Church services around the world during Christmas began with the reminder that celebration of Christmas is nowhere encouraged in the Bible.
31. The Beatles’ Paul McCartney composed a Christmas song that is considered to be his worst song.
Still he manages to make around Rs.2.7 crores each year.
So, wish you a Merry Christmas!