Fun Festive Facts

Christmas is coming. A season that has many traditions and stories associated with it. But where do all these traditions come from and are some of the things we know about Christmas actually true? At Infero we have sent our elves out to make a list of fun Festive Facts that you can use to amaze your friends and family. Be sure to check it twice.

1: Faster than the speed of Santa. US scientists calculated that Santa visits 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.

2: Christ’s Mass. The word Christmas comes from the Old English “Cristes maesse” meaning “Christ’s Mass”.

3: The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

4: Boxing Day gets its name from all the money collected in church alms-boxes for the poor.

5: Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous line “Bah Humbug” almost never existed. Charles Dickens’ initial choice was “Bah Christmas”.

6: Three Wise Men? Despite the tale of three wise men paying homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never gives a number. Matthew’s Gospel refers to merely “wise men”.

7: Noel. The word Noel derives from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” or “the good news”.

8: A Merry Greek Christmas. The Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Xmas presents are opened on New Year’s Day.

9: Royalties from Christmas songs? Mariah Carey makes £375,000 per year from All I Want For Christmas, the Pogues make about £400,000 from Fairytale of New York. Top of the Christmas tree are Slade, who are reckoned to earn £500,000 per year from Merry Christmas Everybody.

10: The bestselling Xmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, shifting over 50million copies worldwide since 1942. In Britain, the best-selling festive single is Band Aid’s 1984 track, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which sold 3.5million copies. Wham! is next in the same year with Last Christmas, selling 1.4million.

11: According to tradition, you should eat one mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas to bring good luck.

12: It’s technically illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day in England. In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas pudding, mince pies and anything to do with gluttony. The law has never been rescinded.

13: Holly and Ivy have been used to decorate homes since the 9th century because they symbolise everlasting life. The holly represents Christ’s crown of thorns and the berries his blood.

14: Santa Claus has different names around the world – Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.

15: Wassailing. Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbours to a long life.

16: Jingle Bells. James Pierpont’s 1857 song Jingle Bells was first called One Horse Open Sleigh and was written for Thanksgiving. Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.

17: Since 1947 Oslo has sent an Xmas tree to London to thank us for our help in the Second World War.

18: Xmas is a sacrilegious abbreviation. It isn’t actually and it’s not taking the ‘Christ’ out of Christmas. The ‘X’ is simply a substitute for the Greek word Chi which represents Christ. There is no intention of causing offence.

19: Prince Albert invented the Christmas tree. Tradition suggests that the husband of Queen Victoria brought the Christmas tree to England from his native Germany for the first time in 1848. There is evidence, however, that people in Britain had already been observing this tradition for around 100 years previous to this.

20: It’s Brussels sprouts not Brussel Sprouts. Despite the fact that three quarters (77%) of the UK refer to our favourite Christmas Veg as “Brussel sprouts”, the correct plural term is in fact “Brussels sprouts” (as they are named after the Belgian capital city). Just 18% of the public use the correct name, with the final 5% saying they “don’t know”.

21: Christmas Pudding. Christmas pudding was originally a soup made with raisins and wine.

22: In Somerset and parts of Dorset, it’s traditional for the last person to finish eating their sprouts to have to do the Christmas Day washing up dressed as a giant turkey. This tradition is believed to have started in the 1960s as a way to encourage children to eat their vegetables.

23: In a recent Yahoo poll, users voted the most popular Christmas film of all time as Home Alone, with The Muppet Christmas Carol second, and It’s a Wonderful Life third. It’s A Wonderful Life was mentioned in an FBI file in 1947, when an analyst expressed concern that the film was an obvious attempt to discredit bankers, a “common trick used by communists.”

24: Many parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten, with the needles being a good source of Vitamin C. Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they’re sold and average, three Christmas trees are planted to replace each one harvested.

25: For a christmas to be officially classified as “white” a single snow flake needs to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25th December on the rooftop of the Met Office HQ in London.

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