50 Christmas Fun Facts That Will Make Your Holiday Better
Do you want to discover amazing Christmas fun facts to talk about on Christmas eve? You are in the right place! Whether you are Christian or not, almost everyone celebrates Christmas. This joyous holiday, the most known out of all Christian holidays, is something people of all ages, races, and beliefs look forward to as it is about love and giving. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ makes many families come together every year and celebrate together the time that Jesus was born. It is a season on the end of the gregorian calendar when people are willing to spend, not just for themselves but also for others they barely know.
But there is a lot more to this special holiday than what we see on TV or what we may have experienced at home. So read on to gather some of the best fun facts and even weird but true facts about Christmas!
Best Fun Facts about Christmas History
Before we start, we have a surprise for you: a printable Christmas quiz!
1. Is it winter or spring?
Although most of us celebrate Christmas on December 25, scholars say this is incorrect, placing the spring's real birth date. There are a few reasons why December 25 may have been chosen. One thought is that Emperor Constantine, who had converted to Christianity, chose the date to weaken other pagan beliefs that also had big celebrations on the said day.
2. Why we use “Xmas”
Because they were being persecuted, early Christians used particular signs and symbols to recognize one another as believers and avoid detection. One sign used was the Greek letter “chi,” symbolized by an “X,” as it was the first letter of “Christ.”
3. The magi and the gifts
Many people have heard the story of the wise men who visited and gifted the baby, Jesus. But if you look at the Bible’s details, the exact number of magi is not given, and they did not arrive on time to meet an infant. He was a toddler by the time they got there to present their gifts.
4. Christmas was once illegal in America
In the 1500s and 1600s, certain Protestant Christians, called the Puritans, sought to ban Christmas. Puritans believed that merrymaking was not pleasing to God, especially since Christmas was honored on a day connected to ancient pagan practices.
5. Christmas gifts to freedom
To rescue prisoners of war (POWs) during World War 2, the Allies smuggled in specially-made playing cards during Christmas. Said cards contained a secret map, embedded between the two sides of each card. Immersing the cards in water made the two sides soft enough to be peeled off, revealing parts of the map as well as important instructions.
6. The original Santa Claus
The story of Santa Claus begins with St. Nicholas, a monk who reportedly helped the poor and sick in the 3rd century AD. He became a very popular saint in Europe, gaining the nickname Sinter Klaas from the Dutch. Eventually, the legend and traditions made it over to America, giving birth to the Santa Claus that we all know worldwide.
7. The 1914 Christmas Truce
In 1914, during World War I, the Pope suggested a cease-fire for Christmas. Although nothing was “official,” soldiers did celebrate Christmas that year, singing songs and even greeting their enemies a “Merry Christmas” (in their languages). The truce ended shortly after and was not repeated. If you love history, check out the interesting blog bost on 50 history facts.
Strange but True Facts about Symbols Of Christmas
8. It’s real girl power in the sky
Although we know their names, Santa’s reindeers have not been given a gender. But scientifically-speaking, experts say they must be female since male reindeer lose their antlers in early December. Plus, female reindeer still have a lot of fat stores in winter, meaning they have more energy and insulation to pull the red chubby guy and his gifts around the world.
9. The real star of Bethlehem
According to one astronomer, computer simulations seem to confirm that there was something in the sky that could have been the unique “star” that everyone saw at the birth of Christ. The simulation showed that in August of 3 BC, Venus and Jupiter were very near one another in the morning, making them look like a single star. Ten months later, in June of 2 BC, there was another big, bright star as Jupiter and Saturn were very close.
10. The upside-down tree
In a few European cultures, the Christmas tree is hung upside-down. This version is not new as it has been around since the 7th century and had continued as popular Christmas decorations for a few centuries. It is said that the upside-down tree was used to better explain the beliefs of Christianity to the pagans, namely the Holy Trinity and the crucifixion of Christ. Many use an artificial Christmas tree as the upside-down tree.
11. Rays of tinsel
Tinsel, which supposedly symbolizes the rays of the stars in the first Christmas, was once made from actual silver. Said ornament, however, easily turned ugly because of the smoke of the Christmas candles on the tree. Thus, silver was swapped for shiny alternatives, such as lead and tin until it evolved into the synthetic kind we have today.
12. The Santa School
Ever dream about becoming a certified Santa? There is a 4-day program in Arvada, Colorado, that teaches you everything you need to know to play Santa Claus. Many of their graduates can be seen merrily plying their trade in America’s malls during the holiday season. Source: universityherald.com
13. The first nativity scene
In many places around the world, you might chance upon a nativity scene during Christmas, featuring a manger, many animals, and other characters. Credit has been given to St. Francis of Assisi as the first person to create such a scene back in a cave in 1223 AD. His manger had real hay, a live donkey, and a live ox.
14. The start of artificial trees
Because of the great interest in Christmas and the holiday atmosphere, massive amounts of trees in Germany were cut down in the 1800s. Because of this, an artificial tree made of goose feathers was introduced to the public in the 1880s. In the following century, a tree made from plastic came about, offering better advantages as plastic trees were sturdier and could hold more ornaments.
15. No tree in the White House
During his entire two terms as president (1901 - 1908), Theodore Roosevelt disallowed the display of a Christmas in the White House. He was a keen advocate for environmental conservation, so he wanted to lead by example by not ordering a cut-down tree for the holidays.
16. The introduction of affordable lights
When electricity was first introduced in the late 1800s, most people could only view public displays of Christmas lights as the cost of electricity was very high.
It took 20 more years before electricity was cheap enough for ordinary households to have their own Christmas tree lights. When that happened, in 1903, General Electric began selling Christmas light kits to the public.
17. Popularizing the Christmas tree
Although the Christmas tree was in use in Germany in the 1500s, it was not embraced in American and England because the stricter Puritan believers knew of its pagan roots. But in 1846, a sketch of the royal family of England standing around a tree was published. Since Queen Victoria was well-liked, her subjects began following suit, making Christmas trees popular in Britain and even America.
18. Colors of Christmas
The Christmas colors' exact origin is unclear, but many Christians think red was chosen to symbolize Jesus’ blood that was sacrificed on the cross. As for green, it has always been associated with life. For Christians, it represents the eternal life of Christ that He offers to all who believe. Of course, the white Christmas color came from the season snow.
19. The legend of the poinsettia
The Christmas flower, poinsettia, is named after former ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsett, who took an interest in the plant during his Mexico assignment. There’s a Mexican legend about the flower where supposedly a bouquet of weeds was given as a gift to baby Jesus's statue in the chapel’s nativity set. Miraculously, the weeds blossomed into the red flowers people love during Christmas.
20. Tree and the wreath
In Germany, since it was important for the Christmas tree to be triangular in shape (as a representation of the Holy Trinity), much of the tree had to be pruned. But instead of discarding everything, the excess parts were woven into wreaths. Back then, the wreath was hung on the tree as an additional ornament; but today, many use it to decorate their front door.
21. Edible ornaments
Nowadays, most Christmas ornaments are made of plastic, wood, or other inedible materials, except perhaps for candy canes sealed in a plastic wrapper. But long ago, Christmas trees were decorated with apples, cakes, cookies, sweetmeats, and even popcorn.
Cool Facts about The Holiday Traditional Food
22. Snacking on the witch’s home
A delicious treat that almost everyone would like for themselves is a candied gingerbread house. For Americans and Europeans, this particular dessert was inspired by the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” as German bakers in the 1800s took note of the story’s details to create their version of the witch’s home.
23. The big deal with fruitcake
Even though there are people who do enjoy eating fruitcake, it is not as popular as it once was hundreds of years ago. Ever since this dessert was mass-produced, many people today do not appreciate receiving one for Christmas, as it is seen as a thoughtless present.
24. A gigantic treat
In 2012, a chef from Illinois, USA, made a 51-foot candy cane! It took him around three weeks to make the huge confection. Similar to smaller candy canes, the big one had to be twisted and rolled by hand.
25. It’s a super drink
Hot chocolate is another winter holiday drink people love, especially kids. But it is not just yummy. Experts say hot cocoa is loaded with antioxidants, even more than red wine or green tea, making it a very healthy drink.
26. Wish upon a ginger cookie
Sweden has its version of a wishbone. After placing a pepparkakor (Swedish ginger cookie) in one’s palm, the cookie is tapped repeatedly by a finger of the other hand (thumb or index) until it cracks. They say if the cookie breaks into 3, the wish will be granted.
It is believed that the Christmas eggnog - a mixture of rum, eggs, and other flavors - was derived from a medieval drink called a “posset,” which combined milk and ale. For those who love eggnog today, it is highly recommended to be a responsible drinker. Aside from its alcohol content, the combination of eggs and other ingredients give it a very high-calorie count: a minimum of 400 calories per cup.
28. The original Yule log
The French Yule log, a rolled chocolate cake filled with cream, is a tasty dessert many look forward to. However, the original Yule log that inspired the dessert is something people cannot eat as it was an actual log that Britons kept burning midwinter to drive away bad luck and evil spirits.
29. Designing Christmas pudding
Many in the UK enjoy a delicious dessert called Christmas pudding at the end of their Christmas supper. In the Victorian times, wealthy households had pudding that was molded into castles or towers, while ordinary folk ate pudding that was shaped into a ball. Other customs include placing a coin inside the pudding for a lucky eater or drenching the pudding with brandy and lighting it up for display.
Crazy Facts about Christmas Traditions around the World
30. Sweden’s Yule Goat
In Scandinavian countries, the Yule goat is supposedly the creature that helps Santa deliver the gifts on Christmas day. The small town Gävle decided to improve upon the tradition by creating a huge Yule goat of straw in 1966, which was on display that holiday season until it burned down on New Year’s Eve. Since then, their giant Yule goat tradition has continued, but with the added element of somebody trying to find ways to burn it down before Christmas Day. Want to learn more about the interesting facts from around the world? check out the 50 Geography fun facts (super interesting) blog post.
31. Four months of Christmas spirit in the Philippines
Because of the strong Christian influence in the Philippines, Christmas's spirit begins on September 1 and ends on the Feast of the 3 Kings (January 6). So in September, Christmas jingles can already be heard in the malls and on the radio, and Christmas décor may be seen in some homes and businesses.
32. Christmas in Japan includes KFC
Since the ’70s, a Japanese Christmas has never been complete without a bucket of KFC chicken (The famous and tasty fast food from the united states). At the time, KFC was able to successfully market its chicken as a must-have for Christmas. Today, customers need to order weeks in advance to partake of this “Japanese Christmas tradition.
Try our funny Christmas trivia quiz, can you bean the clock?
33. Iceland’s Yule Lads
In Iceland, children don’t really expect Santa to visit. They expect the 13 Yule Lads. During Iceland’s 13 days of Christmas (December 23 until January 6), children expect a visit from each Yule Lad who either leaves a treat or a rotten potato in their shoes.
34. Some people in Germany and Austria receive gifts from a type of baby Jesus
In parts of Germany and even Austria, it is not Santa Claus that delivers gifts, but the Christkind. It is described as a representation of baby Jesus, but not necessarily Jesus himself, similar to a small angel or sprite.
35. Greece’s St.Basil
Another country that has different gift-giver for the holidays in Greece. Instead of St. Nick, they have St. Basil the Great, who was known for helping the weak, sick, and poor. As his designated feast day is January 1, Greeks receive gifts on St. Basil’s feast day, not Christmas Day.
36. New Zealand’s Summer Christmas
When you live below the equator, Christmas occurs during the summer, not the winter. So on Christmas day, a delicious barbecue with family and friends at home, the beach, or at the park is an expected event. And though some homes may have the usual fir Christmas tree, others just look around to view the pohutukawa - a native, green tree with bright red flowers in bloom during the holiday season - which dots the coastlines of New Zealand.
37. Mexico’s 9 days of Christmas
In Mexico, from December 16 to 24, the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy are celebrated, called Las Posadas. During this time, many areas will have re-enactments of the search for shelter before Jesus’ birth. On the last day, Christmas Eve, there is a late-night mass, and then the very festive Christmas celebrations may begin in earnest.
38. Ukraine’s Christmas is in January
In Ukraine, Christmas Eve is not December 24, but January 6. This is because they belong to the Orthodox church, which follows a different calendar (Ethiopia, Russia, and other countries do the same). The main Christmas meal cannot be eaten until one sees the first star in the sky, representing the Star of Bethlehem.
39. Apples for Christmas in China
Though the population of Christians in China is not very large, the Christmas spirit can still be felt in the bigger cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. A practice that is gaining popularity is apple-giving on Christmas Eve. This is because the word “apple” in Mandarin sounds similar to the word for “peace,” which is used to describe Christmas Eve (peaceful evening).
40. Wishing for the best in Poland
In Poland, the entire family helps prepare for Christmas. Before the Christmas dinner, members share a Christmas wafer, which is similar in taste to the hosts distributed in church. Each member then wishes the best for one another, even if they are not on good terms.
Weird Yet Interesting Facts About Christmas
If you love weird stuff, don't miss out on the 50 weird fun facts about the world.
41. Ugly sweaters
Sweaters bearing Christmas designs became a product in the 1950s, known as “Jingle Bell Sweaters.” Thirty years later, TV shows began parading the “ugly sweater” as a type of sad-to-receive Christmas gift from one’s grandmother or some other well-meaning loved one. The “ugly sweater” soon became a “fashionable” Christmas inside joke worn during the holidays.
42. Morbid Christmas cards
In the 1800s, the Victorian version of the Christmas card utilized dark humor. Instead of the happy images we have now, cards in their time sometimes featured frogs dancing with insects, dead robins, and creepy snowmen. You’d think they mixed up Christmas with Halloween!
43. Rudolph’s name
When creating a name for Santa’s eventual lead reindeer, copywriter Robert L. May was choosing between a list that included names such as Roderick, Reggy, and Rollo. As the red-nosed reindeer was supposed to be a sad character that was constantly teased by others, the other names were scratched from the list because they just didn’t fit. In the end, “Rudolph” made the cut, and became the famous as Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer that all kids love. Rudolph was created as part of Montgomery Ward department in Chicago children's book for the annual holiday promotion. If you love animals, check out the 50 animals fun facts, you will love it!
44. Mrs. Claus
As the legend of Santa grows, so do the other characters in his story, including his supportive wife. James Rees’ story, A Christmas Legend (1849), is the first one to indicate that Santa is married. After that, more tales of Mrs. Claus were created, adding to her lore, including more recent works where she is a young teacher named Jessica.
45. Jingle Bells
The very popular Christmas “Jingle Bells” was first known as “One Horse Open Sleigh.” It was initially played at church for Thanksgiving, not Christmas. Although very lively and clearly about winter, none of its lyrics are relevant for Christmas (or even Thanksgiving). If you love singing Christmas songs, you will love our Christmas songs trivia quiz.
46. Bah! Humbug!
If you are a fan of “A Christmas Carol,” you know that “Bah! Humbug!” is the favorite phrase of Ebenezer Scrooge, the guy who once hated Christmas. But while people may recognize the phrase, not everyone knows what it means. “Humbug” means something is fake or a hoax, so a person who has been “humbugged” is somebody who has been deceived.
47. “Silent Night” is seemingly on everybody’s Christmas album
It seems that “Silent Night” (by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr) has been recorded the most by a variety of singers. Since 1978, there have been more than 700 recordings by various artists. One reason is that this Christmas song is open to the public, so recording it does not violate any copyrights.
48. “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
As far as Guinness World Records is concerned, the most popular holiday song today is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Although it first came out in her 1994 Christmas album, the song is still very popular with people as many have been streaming it during the holiday season.
49. The modern cards of Christmas
It’s said that commercialized Christmas cards truly began because of the Hall family. In 1915, Joyce Hall began the company. Years later, the family company was renamed Hallmark, a name known throughout the world for special cards for all occasions.
50. How the Grinch got an award
In 2000, the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas was awarded for “Best Makeup and Hairstyling.” Actor Jim Carrey had to sit patiently for hours while the Grinch’s makeup and hair were applied. If you love Christmas movies, you will love our Christmas movies trivia quiz.
So that is it. We hope you were entertained and that you picked up some strange facts to share with your friends about this very merry holiday. Thank you for reading! For more fun dont' forget to check the Crowds Trivia home page. You can also explore our educational blog.