Need something to talk about at your Christmas party? Try some trivia about one of the most important holidays of the years that a lot of people don’t know anything about. Now they say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s why a lot of us love it! But it turns out that there are some odd facts about this holiday that make great conversation starters. So, here’s everything you need to know about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and the Christmas spirit that you didn’t learn growing up. So, start reading cause ’tis the season to get smart too!
The department store Santa Claus has become a time-honored tradition that began 120 years ago.
In 1890, a Massachusetts businessman James Edgar became the first department store Santa. Edgar came up with the concept of dressing up as Santa as a marketing tool. Eventually, kids started begging their parents to take them to Edgar’s small dry goods store in Brockton.
In 1900, it cost about $300 (which was a lot) to keep the electric lights on a Christmas tree running.
Valeria Boltneva / Pexels
In 1903, General Electric created the first pre-wire, eight-socket light strings. Their patent was rejected because they were using knowledge every electrician had. But this opened the door to allow other inventors to produce and modify the Christmas lights we put on trees today.
There’s a depressing backstory to the classic tune “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”
Edward Cisneros /Unsplash
When James “Haven” Gillespie was asked to write a Christmas song, he was overwhelmed with grief over the loss of his brother. To add insult to injury, he was also jobless and broke. But his brother’s memory and the times they spent on Christmas inspired him to write this cherished song.
Christmas trees made their debut in ancient Egyptian and Roman culture, way before Baby Jesus.
Tyler Delgado / Unsplash
The trees were used during the winter solstice to remind everyone that the plants would grow in the Spring. But the tree tradition we’re accustomed to didn’t take off until 1848, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of England popped up in a drawing in the Illustrated London News.
The original candy canes we all know and love weren’t candy stripes but rather entirely white.
Greyson Joralemon / Unsplash
The first candy cane was made by a German Choirmaster in 1670. He used them to keep kids in check during nativity services. A shepherd’s cane inspired the shape. In 1847, the candy cane arrived in America when a German immigrant used them to decorate his tree in Ohio.
The name Santa Claus has only been around for about 200 years, and you can thank the Dutch for it.
Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash
It started with the Dutch tradition of a bishop named Sinterklass, who went from door to door to hand out treats to kids on the night of December 5. But the name was anglicized in 1773, by a New York City newspaper. And that’s how the iconic figure became known as Santa Claus.
People say there’s no such thing as Santa, but there was such a thing as St. Nicholas… kind of.
Jakob Owens / Unsplash
St. Nicholas was born around the year 270, in the town of Bishop of Myra, which is now called Turkey. He became popular for being a gift giver. He paid poor girls’ dowries and left treats and coins in children’s shoes. Since his passing, Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of children.
You can thank the Coca-Cola company for the modern look Santa Claus has, including the red suit.
Jim Kalligas / Unsplash
The modern jolly old Santa Claus in the red suit became a pop icon in 1931, when an artist named Haddon Sundblom drew him for a Coca-Cola campaign that became widely-circulated and widely popular.
Writing letters to Santa became trendy thanks to the help of a cartoon way back in the 1800s.
Agrafian Hem Rarkovia / Public Doman
Thomas Nast’s drawing was published in Harper’s Weekly in December 1871. The illustration shows Santa at his desk sorting letters from parents with good children and naughty children. The year after Nast’s illustration popped up, post offices started receiving letters from Santa.
December 25th was once considered a holiday to commemorate the epic birthday of the Sun.
NeONBRAND / Unsplash
In 274 AD, Emperor Aurelian consecrated the temple of Sol Invictus, thereby creating the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, aka the birthday of the Sun. This put the Sun before all other Gods, which eventually led to a more monotheistic religion.
Everyone talks about the Three Wise Men, but there’s nothing in the Bible that suggests there were three.
Jonathan Meyer / Pexels
According to Matthew’s Gospel, there were “Wise Men.” People assumed there were only three because they brought three gifts, myrrh, incense, and gold. But since the Bible doesn’t specify how many wise men paid Jesus a visit, the number could be substantially higher.
Religious people didn’t initially accept Christmas because it was rooted in pagan traditions and festivals.
Aloïs Moubax / Pexels
Who could have imagined that Christmas was once so illegal? Between the years 1659 and 1681, anyone celebrating Christmas in Boston was considered to be breaking the law. If you got caught celebrating, authorities would fine you.
German families saved the best for last, or in this case, the Christmas pickle, which they hung on the tree.
It’s tucked into the tree in a spot that’s tough to see. The first child who finds the Christmas pickle in the morning gets a year of good luck and a special gift. The pickle is made of blown glass. But if you ask most Germans, they’ll probably tell you they’re unfamiliar with this legendary tradition.
The reason why stockings are hung is an ode to St. Nick’s generosity towards impoverished girls.
Matthew T Rader / Unsplash
According to the legend, St. Nicholas slid down the chimney of a man who was so poor, he feared his girls would never marry. So, St. Nick filled the laundered stockings drying by the fireplace with gold coins. And boom! Just like that, the girls became marriage material.
Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s certainly not a fan of happily ever after.
Data collected from Facebook posts suggest that one of the most popular times for couples to call it quits is two weeks before Christmas. But, the least favorite day to breakup is Christmas Day. Then again, who would enjoy opening a bunch of presents, and drinking hot cocoa with a side of heartbreak?
opening a bunch of presents, and drinking hot cocoa with a side of heartbreak?
In the early days, people couldn’t exactly go to the store and buy glass ornaments, so they used apples.
Thammie Cascales / Unsplash
During “Paradise Plays,” medieval actors used apples to decorate paradise trees (which were really fir trees). This was kind of appropriate since the plays were a depiction of Adam and Eve’s creation and their ultimate downfall.
You could say that modern Santa is a mesh of various cultural believes, including the Viking God, Odin.
Norman Tsui / Unsplash
Odin rode Sleipnir, a flying horse with eight legs. Think of it as a precursor to a reindeer. Children would fill their stockings or boots with treats for Sleipnir. Then Odin would either hand out gifts or punishments.
Mistletoe was considered sacred by Druids because it could bear fruit in the winter unlike other plants.
Jakob Owens / Unsplash
The druids believed it could ward off evil, protect against nightmares and cure illnesses and infertility. But the concept of kissing under the mistletoe began in ancient Greece and was used in the Festival of Saturnalia and at weddings.
The most expensive decorated Christmas tree is valued at $11,026,900 by the Guiness World Records.
Chris Benson / Unsplash
It stood 13.1 meters tall and was displayed in the Emirates Palace Hotel in the United Arab Emirates. The reason it was so expensive was because it was decorated with jewelry like watches, earrings, and necklaces. But the tree alone was worth about $10,000.
Christmas went from being illegal to being declared a legal holiday in Alabama, in 1836.
Roberto Nickson / Unsplash
Alabama was the first state in the US to make Christmas legal and fun. But it wasn’t until June 26, 1870, that Christmas was declared an official holiday across the nation. However, we’re sure there were a couple of homes out there rocking around the Christmas tree way before that.