10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS YOU MAY NOT KNOW

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1) Jesus Was Not Likely Born on December 25th

For Christians, Christmas is a celebration commemorating of the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th. But did you know that biblical scholars do not think that Jesus was born on this day? One biblical clue is that in Luke 2:8, it says, “Shepherds were “staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flocks by night.” Shepherds and their sheep would not have been in the fields during the wintertime. Based on details of events in biblical scripture, Jesus was likely born in the spring or early fall.

For the first 3 centuries of Christianity, the birth of Jesus was not celebrated at all. It wasn’t until around the end of the 3rdh century that the Christian church chose to celebrate it. They likely chose December 25th as the date as it was during the same time as the winter solstice and the pagan festivals honouring Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and Mithra, the Persian god of light. The church leaders thought this would be a good time to try and convert pagans to Christianity.

2) Gift Giving Represents the Gifts The Maji Gave to the Baby Jesus

Gift giving at Christmas started around the 4th century AD which was copied from the traditions of giving gifts during the Roman winter solstice. People give gifts for Christmas to represent the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh the 3 wise men (Magi) gave to baby Jesus. Gold symbolizes kingship and royalty, frankincense symbolizes holiness, and myrrh symbolizes death. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that Christmas gifts started to be promoted by stores.

3) Why Do We Put Wreaths on Our Doors?

Hanging wreaths was a pagan tradition during winter solstice which was later adopted by Christians. In Christianity the wreath symbolizes the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’s head and the red holly berries on it represent His blood.

4) Why Do We Have Christmas Trees in our Homes?

In 1848 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who was German, had a family picture taken in front of a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, which was published. The British people soon copied this tradition and Christmas trees became popular in England and in North America.

A lot of the Christmas traditions such as the tree, gingerbread houses, wreaths, and advent calendars were customs of the Germans.

Evergreen trees stay green all year and symbolize eternal life with God.

5)  How did Santa Become Involved with Christmas?

Saint Nicholas, a real 3rd century bishop, born in Turkey and of Greek decent, became the patron saint of many groups including the patron saint of children. He was a kind man who gave away all his wealth and dedicated his life to helping he poor and the sick. He was also known to give secret presents to children. Nicholas was very popular and eventually came to be known as the protector of children. It wasn’t until centuries later when Dutch immigrants in North America were witnessed honouring his death on December 6th, that the stories of St. Nicholas started to become more known. The name Santa Claus evolved from Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch spelling). However, the Santa Claus as we know him today became popular after Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A visit from St. Nicholas” that was first published anonymously in 1823 and later became known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

6) Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer was created by Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store in 1939. He created the story hoping to attract customers to his store. Not only did the book become a best seller, but Rudolf also became so popular a song and tv specials were made. Rudolf is just as popular today as he was 83 years ago!

7) When Was the First Christmas Card Sent?

In the 19th century it was a custom in Britain to send letters to friends and family at Christmastime. One year an entrepreneur named Sir Henry Cole was too busy to write letters, so he commissioned his friend, painter John Callcott Hordley to make cards for him. The card was designed by John and hand painted by William Mason. 1000 cards were printed with a Christmas scene and a message. The remaining cards were sold for one shilling each.

Queen Victoria is credited with sending the first Christmas Card on
December 9th, 1843.

8) Why Is It Tradition to Eat Christmas Pudding (aka “Pud”, Plum or Figgy Pudding) on Christmas Day?

Plum pudding has changed over the years. During the medieval times, the British people made it as a meal using mostly meat, wine, and some dried fruit. It was more of a porridge than a pudding. They served it prior to fasting for Advent. By the end of the 16th century, the pudding was made without meat, and contained dried fruit such as raisins, currants, and prunes, was doused in brandy sauce and was sweet.

Stir-up Sunday as it is called, is the last Sunday before first Advent Sunday. The name of the holiday comes from the Book of Common Prayer of 1549. “Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded.” This day is a religious day but during the Victorian era Stir-up Sunday also became a day when families would make their plum pudding together.

The tradition was to have 13 ingredients in the pudding to represent Christ and the 12 disciples. Then each family member would stir the pudding and make a wish for the new year. The pudding was stirred from east to west, in honour of the 3 wise men who came from the east to see baby Jesus. Sometimes items such as coins or rings were put inside the pudding and whoever got one was blessed with whatever the item represented. For example, if one found the coin in their pudding, their fortune would be wealth.

On Christmas day both then and now, the pudding is served as a dessert. A faux sprig of holly is put on top of the pudding to represent Jesus’ crown of thorns and it is also believed to bring good luck. Warm brandy or rum is poured over it and lit on fire to symbolize the passion of Christ. The pudding is then served with brandy or rum sauce.

9) Christmas Crackers 

During Christmas dinner many Britain’s and north Americans have a tradition of popping Christmas crackers before dinner. People at the dinner table all cross their arms with each person pulling an end of the cracker. The cracker is a tube that when pulled it makes a sound like the crackling of fire. It contains a message, a small gift, and a paper crown that one wears during the meal.

It is believed that the paper crowns in the crackers were inspired by the Romans who wore headpieces to celebrate a festival during the winter solstice.

This tradition started in Britain in the 1850’s by candy maker Tom Smith. Initially, the crackers contained candy and a love note and was sold to men to give to their sweethearts. It later evolved to the Christmas crackers we know today.

10) The Colours of Christmas and Their Meaning

 

Red: Red is symbolic of the blood of Christ.

Green: Green is the colour of evergreens which stays green all year round. It symbolizes eternal life.

Gold: The 3 wise men brought gold to the baby Jesus. It is the colour of kings and royalty.

Silver: Silver symbolises divinity- Jesus Christ.

White: White symbolizes purity representing Jesus Christ as pure and without sin.

Blue: The colour Blue represents Jesus’s mother Mary and her blue robe she is known to wear.

Purple: Purple signifies repentance.

 

 

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

 



 

 

 



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