1. Although evergreens have been long held in high regard by many cultures due to their perpetual greenness, it is the 16th-century German Christians that get credit for first bringing decorated trees into their homes. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, was inspired to first include candles as a decoration when he noticed the stars shining through the evergreens one night.
2. By an Act of Parliament in 1644 Christmas was declared illegal in England due to the fact that it was associated with revelry and merrymaking. This obviously led to a good amount of conflict and when the Puritans left for the New World they brought their distaste for Christmas with them.
3. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie and was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 500,000 copies of sheet music and more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours. It actually has a truly depressing back-story: songwriter James "Haven" Gillespie was broke, jobless, and his brother had just died when he was asked to write a Christmas song. He was originally too overcome with grief, but eventually found inspiration in his brother’s death and the Christmas memories they had together.
4. Mistletoe - Literally meaning “dung twig”, mistletoe is named after the fact that it tends to spring out of bird droppings on trees after the seeds have passed through the bird’s digestive tract. Not only this but it can also be very parasitic, often requiring a host tree in order to sustain itself. So, next time you kiss your significant other beneath the mistletoe, remember, you’re standing beneath a parasitic poop twig.
5. Also known as Santa Claus, St. Nick is based on the early Church Bishop Saint Nicholas who was born around 270AD in the small Turkish village of Patara. He was know for being especially generous to the poor and his legend has since led to many different variants of St. Nick across cultures and time periods.
6. Next time you get a chance to listen to the 12 Days of Christmas try to count all of gifts that are exchanged. If you do it right you’ll notice that there are 364 in total, one for each day of the year. Were you to put all of these gifts under the tree it would cost you well over $100,000. I wonder what the cost is for one Lord a Leaping?
7. A popular abbreviation for Christmas, the X represents the Greek letter Chi, or the first letter of the word “Christ”. During the 16th Century, European Christians began using the Chi as a symbolic abbreviation for Christmas just as the Chi-Rho had often been used a symbolic abbreviation for Christ. Although in former centuriesthis association was understood, in recent times this has led to misunderstanding and controversy.
8. On the morning of December 25th, 1914, German soldiers on the western front stepped out of their trenches and walked towards Allied troops calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. What followed was one of the greatest expressions of camaraderie in history. Soldiers mingled, exchanged cigarettes, and even played a game of football. The event was dramatized in the french film Joyeux Noel.
9. Rudolph was actually conceived by a department store, Montgomery Ward, as a marketing gimmick to get kids to buy holiday coloring books. Rudolph almost didn’t have a red nose either: At the time, a red nose was a sign of chronic alcoholism a and Montgomery Ward thought he would look like a drunkard.
10. He's best known for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow's headless horseman, but the author also came up with the idea of Santa's flying sleigh. In The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, an 1819 series of short stories, Irving recounted a dream where St. Nicholas flew across the sky in a wagon. According to legend, his stories were so popular that they sparked a Christmas fervor in the United States and even England, so much so that Charles Dickens reportedly was inspired by Irving when making his own holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.
I want to wish you all contentment, joy and peace this Christmas season and may your New Year be touched with wonder and filled with love.
~ Liz Birch, LMFT
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Tustin, CA. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, anxiety, anger, personal growth, and ptsd (civilian and military). She can be reached via LizBirchTherapist.com, email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com, or by calling 714-614-0612.
I'm a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who works with individuals, couples and families. I hope I inspire you to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised what you discover.