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Christmas Trivia

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Per the results of a three-year Christmas study performed by the Center for Lifestyle Management, an average of 10 hours are spent the last week of December arguing and bickering with family members about holiday-related activities.

Postmen in Victorian England were popularly called "robins." This was because their uniforms were red. The British Post Office grew out of the carrying of royal dispatches. Red was considered a royal color, so uniforms and letter-boxes were red. Christmas cards often showed a robin delivering Christmas mail.

Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of England, was credited with introducing the German custom of the Christmas tree into the English home in 1841.

Seventy-five percent of Americans do not believe that public references to the "birth of Christ and Christmas" should be avoided in businesses, schools, and other public venues in order to keep from offending non-Christian Americans during this holiday season.

Shortly after Christmas in Poland, people travel in horse-drawn sleighs for the Kulig, or winter sleigh party. Families gather in the forest, light fires, and prepare festive meals. They traditionally celebrate with dancing and fireworks later that evening.

St. Nicholas was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early fourth century. It was the Dutch who first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and Dutch settlers brought him to America where his name eventually became the familiar Santa Claus.

Ten percent of American households leave milk and cookies for Santa Claus.

The “ Twelve Days of Christmas” was originally written to help Catholic children, in England, remember different articles of faith during the persecution by Protestant Monarchs. The “true love” represented God, and the gifts all different ideas, the “Partridge in a pear tree” was Christ.

The ancient Irish custom of burning the Yule log was performed to honor the Great Mother Goddess. The log would be lit on the eve of the Winter Solstice, using the remains of the Yule log from the previous year, and would be burned for twelve hours for good luck.

The children's saint St Nicholas (Santa Claus), was said to have miraculously revived three schoolboys murdered by an innkeeper. His generosity was unbounded, and people often found his gifts in their homes at times when they needed him most.

The Christmas turkey first appeared on English tables in the 16th century, but didn't immediately replace the traditional fare of goose, beef or boar's head in the rich households.

The classic animal crackers box is designed with a string handle because the animal-shaped cookie treats, introduced in 1902 as a Christmas novelty, were packaged so they could be hung from Christmas trees.

The custom of singing Christmas carols is very old - the earliest English collection was published in 1521.

The day after Christmas, December 26, is known as Boxing Day. It is also the holy day called The Feast of St. Stephen. Some believe the feast was named for St. Stephen, a 9th century Swedish missionary, the patron saint of horses. Neither Boxing Day or St. Stephen have anything to do with Sweden or with horses. The Stephen for whom the day is named is the one in the Bible (Acts 6-8) who was the first Christian to be martyred for his faith.

The first British monarch to broadcast a Christmas message to his people was King George V.

The first charity Christmas card was produced by UNICEF in 1949. The picture chosen for the card was painted not by a professional artist but by a seven-year-old girl. The girl was Jitka Samkova of Rudolfo, a small town in the former nation of Czechoslovakia. The town received UNICEF assistance after World War II, inspiring Jitka to paint some children dancing around a maypole. She said her picture represented "joy going round and round."

The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9, 1842.

The Irish custom of "feeding the wren" on December 26 consists of carrying a wren door to door, to collect money for charity. The custom is based on a legend of St. Stephen. Once he was forced to hide in a bush, but a chattering wren gave him away. Children cage the wren to help it do penance for this misdeed. Often the children carry a long pole with a holly bush at the top, which is supposed to hide a captured wren.

The modern Christmas custom of displaying a wreath on the front door of one's house, is borrowed from ancient Rome's New Year's celebrations. Romans wished each other "good health" by exchanging branches of evergreens. They called these gifts strenae after Strenia, the goddess of health. It became the custom to bend these branches into a ring and display them on doorways.

The northern European custom of the candlelit Christmas tree is derived from the belief that it sheltered woodland spirits when other trees lost their leaves during winter.

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