Christmas is all about gifts, snow and Santa Claus. However, there are certain facts about the holiday that you don’t know and probably wouldn’t even want to!
1. The Myrrh Tree
Everybody is aware of the fact that Jesus received myrrh as a gift from the magi which is basically tree sap that is dried out. What people don’t know is that the first myrrh tree came into being because Myrrha was indulging in sexual activities with her father and once her father realized it, he tried to kill her. However, she escaped and was turned into a tree.
2. The Defecating Caganer
Every nativity set consist of Mary, Joseph and their baby Jesus. The family is often surrounded by animals, shepherds and other figures. In places like Italy and Spain, one figure will be that of the caganer who will be placed away from the manger and will be seen defecating.
3. Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, is known to have brought three children back to life. These children were staying with a butcher who murdered and pickled them. He then tried to serve the meat as pork but good old Santa came by and resuscitated the poor children. There are several paintings of Saint Nicolas wherein some children will be seen standing around in tubs- now you know why!
4. Christmas Used to be Banned
During 1659 to 1681, the holiday was not celebrated in Massachusetts and was banned. This is because it was believed that 25th December was not a day to be celebrated as God had not mentioned it in the Bible.
5. Knecht Rupercht and the Christmas Cat
Knecht Rupercht is among the many companions of Saint Nicholas. He is known to punish those who have been bad by taking them to a forest in a sack and eating them. Another legend says that if you do not buy new clothes on Christmas, the Christmas Cat will come and eat you alive.
6. The Caga tió
The Caga tió is a tree which is native to the Catalonia region. It has a hollow log which is fed by the local families after which it is covered with a warm blanket. On Christmas day, these families come together and sing songs while they beat up the poor tree. The tree then throws up figs, candy and nuts.
Wassailing is the term given to those who knock on doors and sing traditional Christmas songs. The hosts then give them some cookies and warm milk. However, many people don’t know that the original wassailers were aggressive and would forcibly enter homes and compel the hosts to give them food. If you find this difficult to believe, just go through the lyrics of We Wish You a Merry Christmas-
”Now bring us some figgy pudding, We won’t go until we get some”
8. Mari Lwyd
This is basically the skull of a horse covered with ribbons and bells. It sits atop a stick and is carried around under a sheet. It has green glass instead of eye socket and its jaw has the ability to ‘snap’ at those who pass by.
9. Leo V
In 820, Leo (the Byzantine Emperor) was at the alter on Christmas Day, praying when some conspirators headed by Michael the Amorian tried to assassinate him. The poor emperor gave in and Michael was made the emperor.
10. The Coventry Carol
The Coventry Carol originated in the 15th century and is quite popular even today. The song was first sung in a play called “The Pageant of the Shearman and Tailors”. The song talks about King Herod who asked all male infants to be killed.