5. Illegal Christmas
For Christians, December 25th supposedly marks the birth of Jesus Christ. But there is no mention of the exact date of the birth in the Bible. December 25th was most probably chosen because it coincides with the ancient pagan festival called Saturnalia which celebrated the agricultural god: Saturn.
Popular Christmas traditions such as partying or should I say being jolly and gift giving were a common tradition during Saturnalia. Rather than the currently well-known reason which symbolizes the gifts given to baby Jesus by the three wise men. Though I guess the gambling bit of Saturnalia never did become popular.
Then during the 1600s, Puritans or Protestant Christians believed that it was sinful to be merry and that Christmas has Pagan roots written all over it. That’s why in 1659 until 1681, Christmas was illegal in Boston and you will be fined if caught celebrating. Then even though the ban was lifted, Christmas did not become a legal holiday until the 1800s.
Currently, these are some of the countries that ban Christmas: Saudi Arabia, Somalia, North Korea and recently in December 2014, Brunei also followed the banning train.
4. Santa Claus
Santa didn’t come out of no where. People believed Santa Claus came from St. Nicholas. He was a Christian bishop around the 4th century AD. St. Nicholas was a wealthy man that was known to be very giving to help the needy even before he was given the Saint title. When he was sainted, he was known as the protector of children.
The image of Santa Claus flying in a sleigh started in 1819 and was dreamt up by the author, Washington Irving, who also created the Headless Horseman. In the past, Santa wore blue, white and green but the traditional red suit Santa wears now was influenced by Coca Cola from their ad in the 1930s.
Now the way Santa gives presents from a chimney and puts them in socks came from a story where a poor man couldn’t have his three daughters to get married because he can’t afford to pay the dowry.
St Nicholas must have heard the rumor about this poor man, so one night, he dropped a bag of gold down the man’s chimney enough for one dowry and the gold came tumbling and fell right into the stockings they had hanging to dry.
Though only after his death, the legend of St. Nicholas spread widely and his name became Sint-Nicolaas in Dutch, or Sinter Klaas for short which is basically Santa Claus.
3. Santa’s Reindeer
Rudolph was actually made by a department store called the Montgomery Ward as a marketing strategy so that kids would buy their holiday colouring books.
Though there were some doubts in their initial design whether or not to let Rudolph have a red nose or not because a red nose is usually associated with drunkards. They definitely went with the red nose and it forever became a thing for Christmas.
The names of Santa’s reindeer were initially introduced from a poem called “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and they were : Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Duner and Blixem.
People believed that Santa’s reindeer are all female because mature male reindeer shed their antlers around Christmas. But seeing how the names changed in the recent years, there’s another possibility that the reindeer are young ones which retains their antlers around Christmas.
Here’s a shocking fact! They can really fly!! *snicker* I’m sorry but that was a lie, they can’t fly but they are known to travel very long distances and can travel over 3,100 miles per year.
They can run at approximately 40 – 50 miles per hour and swim around 4 miles per hour. The most interesting thing about the reindeer is that a baby reindeer can already run after only an hour and a half of being born.
2. The Christmas tree
Evergreen trees have always been seen as a symbol even before Christmas. They are said to the symbol of fertility, life and rebirth because it has leaves throughout the year and found their roots in the same Pagan tradition as said from earlier.
So in the Saturnalia, they use the branches of the evergreen trees during winter solstice as a reminder of the green plants that would grow in spring when the sun gods grow strong.
Now the first Christmas tree was said to come from Germany where they bring the trees into their homes during holidays and would decorate them with cookies and lights. England’s first Christmas tree was brought to Windsor in 1800 but only until the 1840s the tree became popular.
It was when Germany’s Prince Albert brought it to England when he married Queen Victoria. The royals were definitely the trend setters at the time.
1. The Little Elves
They are those little human like creatures that live with Santa Claus in the North Pole and acts as his helper and toy makers. They are mostly depicted in a green or red attire with pointy ears, pointy hats and even pointy shoes.
So where did they come from? Apparently compared to Santa, they are a much younger creation. They were first introduced in a piece of literature by Louisa May Alcott in 1856 and the illustrations of the elves working in the workshop were later popularised by Godey’s Lady’s Book for its Christmas Issue in 1873.
But the idea of elves came from the 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore called A Visit from St. Nicholas which is more commonly known today as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. In the poem, there was a line describing Santa Clause which goes, “He was chubby and plump, a right jelly old elf”.
So from these facts, we could conclude that Christmas is more a tradition rather than a religious celebration. It is a good tradition to bring people close together and definitely a good excuse to have an extra holiday for the year.