It’s a beautiful rainy day here in Panama City, Florida.
But, there’s some heavy sunshine getting ready to blow in from the Gulf of Mexico.
Looks like it’ll make landfall by mid-afternoon… Tomorrow!
Since it’s in the 70’s here, I wasn’t necessarily counting on a ‘white Christmas’…
Speaking of Xmas, I’ve been poking around looking for unusual, weird and little known Christmas factoids.
For your entertainment, and in honor of the season, I’ve listed some of the more interesting ones below.
The following content is the results of my research and has no reflection upon anyone’s beliefs.
1: Twas the Night Before Christmas poem published without author’s knowledge
Author and classics professor, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote the poem for his family to celebrate Christmas in 1922. The poem’s original title was A Visit From Saint Nicholas.
Moore had a pretty healthy ego, and he didn’t want the poem published because he felt it was ‘beneath’ him.
And, it wouldn’t have been published if a ‘close’ friend hadn’t sent it to a newspaper where it was published anonymously.
Despite the poem’s instant, and continued popularity, Moore denied authorship for more than 15 years.
2: The U.S. Santa was originally beardless
And, he was a tall, skinny dude.
17th Dutch settlers introduced ‘Santa’ to American culture as a tall, slim, clean-shaven and dignified man.
The settlers had based their Santa’s looks on the traditional Dutch winter figure Sinterklaas, whom it turns out, was based upon Saint Nicholas. Whew!
Anyway, Santa’s look changed in the late 1800’s after a popular cartoon, drawn by Thomas Nast, and published in Harper’s Weekly, showed Santa as a stout man sporting a full beard.
3: Mistletoe’s erotic history
The practice of stealing a kiss from anyone under a sprig of mistletoe, was based upon an older ritual having to do with fertility.
In ancient times, hanging mistletoe was a symbol of virility. Someone standing beneath a sprig were signaling their sexual availability.
I guess life really was simpler back then…
4: December 25th probably isn’t Jesus’s birthday
Despite the rhetoric, there’s no proof of the actual date Jesus was born.
So…Why celebrate on December 25th?
Most likely theory: traditional Christian story that Mary, Mother of Jesus, was told she would have a very special baby, Jesus (called the Annunciation) on March 25th…
Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th December.
Yet, Dec. 25th has more in common with pagen rituals celebrating the winter solstice, than it has with anything relating to the birth of Jesus.
5: Jingle Bells was not a Christmas song
The popular Xmas song, Jingle Bells, was written for the Thanksgiving holidays.
Written in 1857, by James Lord Pierpont, for his Sunday school choir. The song was originally called One Horse Open Sleigh.
6: Christmas is ‘big’ business
According to the National Retail Federation, expected holiday spending for November and December 2014 is a cool $602.1 billion. That’s an increase of 4.1% over 2013.
The U.S. Post Office is anticipating 450 to 470 million packages this holiday season. That’s a 12 percent increase from last year.
Post Office spokesperson says online shopping is major reason for the increase.
7: All time best-selling Christmas song
The best-selling Christmas song ever is White Christmas recorded by Bing Crosby. At last counting, his recording of the song has sold more than 50 million copies around the world.
White Christmas, written by Irving Berlin, has been recorded by all sorts, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Gheorghe Zamfir, a Romanian pan flute musician. (Not joking)
It’s also been recorded by the likes of the Three Tenors, Elvis, Michael Bolton, country star Tammy Wynette, and cool to the bone, The Drifters.
Berlin hated Elvis Presley and thought Elvis degraded the song. Berlin even tried, unsuccessfully, to get the big E’s recording banned from the airways.
8: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Was Dreamed Up To Replace Coloring Books
In 1939, Montgomery Ward department store copywriter, 34-year old Robert L. May, wrote the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
The story was used as a ‘give-away’ gift, replacing coloring books, to Ward’s holiday customers. By 1946, they’d given away 2.4 million copies.
The author was able to wrangle ownership of the copyright from the store in January 1947. And, it was was printed commercially, for the 1st time, that same year.
In 1948 the story was turned into a cartoon and was shown in movie theaters, increasing it’s popularity. That same year, May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, wrote lyrics and melody for the story.
In 1949, movie & TV cowboy star, Gene Autry’s, recording of the song sold 2 million copies.
Autry’s recording is 2nd only to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas as the best-selling song of all time.
9: Christmas Banned In Massachusetts
In 1659, early American settlers, the Puritans of Massachusetts, enacted a law making celebration of Christmas illegal.
No beheadings or public flogging were ordered for disobedience. But there was a fine of five shillings, in those days, a hefty amount.
While the Puritans were devout Christians, they didn’t believe December 25th was the true date of Jesus’s birth.
As the yin to the above yang, in 1836, Alabama was the first state to make Christmas a legal holiday.
I guess that’s why they call it Sweet Home Alabama?
10: Xmas Factoid Lightening Round:
- Christmas caroling began as an old English custom, called wassailing, and was a toast to long life
- In the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi, started the custom of singing Christmas carols in church
- Edward Johnson invented Christmas lights in 1882
- Christmas wreaths are symbolic of Jesus, red berries symbolize his blood, while holly represents his crown of thorns
- In the mid 19th century, England’s Queen Victoria’s German born husband, Prince Albert, popularized the Xmas tree when their Christmas at home setting, with xmas tree, was captured in an illustration that was then published in popular media.
A bonus factoid: the letter X in Xmas, is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.
Finally, I wish you and yours, a very Merry Christmas…
Ideas for me, your aging related story, or comments are very damn welcome…