Friday, December 16, 2016



   As the Christmas season is fast approaching, I thought it might be interesting to delve into the history of the holidays.  It turns out that there are many myths, false tales, and little known facts about the Christmas holiday and I thought I would share some of these. 

  • The tradition of Santa being pulled by reindeer began in the 19th century when a group of people moved from  Norway to Alaska with a heard of reindeer, who were later used to pull sleds with Santa on them for an advertising campaign.
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer was invented in 1939 by a man working for a department store, previous to this there had only been 8 reindeer.
  • In North American tradition, Santa Claus lives at the North Pole.  However, in Denmark folklore he lives on Greenland, and each country on the Scandinavian peninsula has an area in which he is told to reside.
  • The X in the abbreviation X-mas is derived from the Greek letter Chi which is the first letter of Christ's name in the Greek alphabet, rather than an attempt to remove the religious aspect of the holiday as some believe.

  • Although the birth of Jesus is celebrated on Christmas, it is cloudy as to whether he was actually born on December the 25th or not.  This date was chosen to give Christian meaning to existing pagan rituals.
  • In Roman times, December 25th  was celebrated as the rebirth of the sun and was called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.
  • The Christmas tree comes from a pagan tradition involving the Winter solstice, and the word "Yule" also come from pagan sources.  As Northern Europe was one of the last areas to be Christianized, many of it's traditions had to be accepted into Christian traditions rather than obliterated.
  • Santa Claus was not always depicted as fat, jolly and bearded.  Throughout time his image has changed, from skinny and beardless to what he is today.  As a Christmas figure he is a mixture of Saint Nicholas and Christkindlein.

  • In recent years NORAD, the joint North American Aerospace Defense Command between the United State and Canada, has begun tracking Santa and his reindeer on their website via radar as he makes his rounds n Christmas.  This can be viewed at http://www.noradsanta.org/.
  • There was a time in the 17th century when Christmas was actually banned for being too flamboyant by several groups in England and America , such as the Puritans.
  • On December 24, 1914, on the trenches of the Western front of World War I, the troops of the British, French and German empires came to an unofficial, sporadic truce in places.  Carols were sung, gifts were exchanged and soccer matches were even started between the two sides.  This proves that even in the middle of one of the deadliest, dirtiest, and faceless wars that the world has ever seen, some of the most hellish circumstances imaginable, Christmas can still bring peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

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