December 25 Was Originally Celebrated By Pagan Religions
Although Christmas supposedly marks the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, there isn’t actually any mention of the date in the Bible. Historians even suspect that Jesus was most likely born in the spring. It is assumed that December 25 was chosen because it coincided with the ancient pagan festival of Saturnalia.
This festival celebrated the agricultural god Saturn with partying, gambling, and gift-giving. Many current Christmas traditions can be traced back to Saturnalia, such as using evergreen trees as decoration, gift-giving, and celebrating with friends and family.
Establishing What Santa Claus Looked Like
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The look of the modern-day Santa Claus was created in an 1804 meeting of the New York Historical Society. Here, a philanthropist named John Pintard handed out wooden cutouts of the jolly St. Nick that we know of today, next to a large bag filled with toys.
In 1819, the image of Santa Claus flying in his sleigh was created by Washington Irving. Strangely enough, Irving was also the author who created the concept of the Headless Horseman for his short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
The Origin Of Rudolph
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In 1939, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in a booklet written by Robert L. May and was then published by Montgomery Ward, the department store. It was created as a trick to encourage children to buy the department store’s Christmas coloring books. However, the original Rudolph didn’t have a red nose.
Wonder why? Back then, a red nose was seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism. Montgomery Ward didn’t want their reindeer to come off as a drunkard so they originally left it out. Rudolph was also almost named Reginald or Rollo.
The Three Colors Of Christmas
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It’s no secret that the three prominent colors of Christmas are red, green, and gold. At the start of the Christmas season and throughout the holidays, these colors can be seen all over. The color combo is one of the primary indications of the Christmas season.
However, these three colors were not chosen at random and actually have a significance that not everybody is aware of. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolizes life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty, and wealth.
NORAD Santa Tracker Was A Mistake
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Believe it or not, the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) “Santa Tracker” was the result of a misprint in the newspaper. In 1955, a Sears advertisement was supposed to print the number of a store when children could call and tell Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas. The number that was printed was the hotline of the Directors of Operations for the United States Continental Air Defense.
Colonel Shoup, Crew Commander, saw this as an opportunity to do something for the children and ordered his staff to give children updates on the flight coordinates to Santa. The tradition continues today in which NORAD provides updates on local news, the Internet, and phone applications.
Coca-Cola Helped Invent The Modern Image Of Santa Claus
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Prior to the 1930s, Santa Claus was not always depicted as the big jolly man in red with a white beard. In fact, he was often represented as a gaunt man who was even described as looking like a “spooky elf.” However, in 1931, Coca-Cola wanted to run a campaigned that showed a realistic and wholesome Santa.
Illustrator Haddon Sundblom turned to “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” for inspiration. Thus, the common depiction of Santa Claus that we see today was introduced and used in Coca-Cola’s advertising for that year and the years to follow.
You’ll never guess this fact about Christmas in the first English colonies in America.
Prince Albert Helped Popularize Christmas Trees
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Apparently, the origin of Christmas trees can be traced back to ancient Egyptians and Romans, who marked the winter solstice with evergreens as a reminder of the upcoming spring. However, it wasn’t until Prince Albert of Germany brought a tree home to his wife, Queen Victoria of England, that buying and decorating Christmas trees became a tradition.
A drawing of the couple and their family was published in the Illustrated London News in 1848, which led to the popularity of people putting Christmas trees in their homes to grow immensely.
Christmas Stockings Come From A Dutch Legend
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The origin of the Christmas stocking comes from a Dutch legend during the life of St. Nicholas. There was a poor man with three daughters who had no money for them to get married. St. Nicholas heard the old man’s problems and wanted to help although he knew the man wouldn’t accept charity.
St. Nicholas then threw a bag of gold into the house through the chimney and it landed in a stocking hanging by the fire to dry. All three of the man’s daughters were then able to marry. Although the story varies, it led to the custom of children hanging stocking or putting out their shoes, awaiting gifts from St. Nicholas.
“Jingle Bells” Started As A Thanksgiving Song
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Originally titled “One Horse Open Sleigh,” “Jingle Bells” was first written and published by James Lord Pierpont. It was then performed at his church’s Thanksgiving concert. Then, in 1857, the song was then republished under the title that it’s known by today. It grew to become one of the most popular and recognizable Christmas songs of all time.
Interestingly, the holiday jingle was the first song to be broadcast from space. On December 16, 1965, the Gemini 6 crew serenaded Mission Control after they reported seeing a “red-suited” astronaut.