Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Don't tell the the children, but the image of Santa in his his sleigh was created in 1819 by Washington Irving, the very same gentleman who gave us the Headless horseman.
2. The now-defunct Montgomery Wards Department Store created Rudolph the Reindeer as a marketing gimmick to encourage children to buy their Christmas coloring books.
3. The original Rudolph didn't have a red nose. back in those days, a red nose was a symbol of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn't want their Christmas character to resemble a drunkard. Rudolph, it seems, was almost named Reginald or Rollo. They wouldn't have had the same "ring" to them, now would they?
4. Clement Moore's beloved poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" introduced us to eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Duner, and Blixem. The last two are German words that mean thunder and lightening. They evolved into the Donner and Blitzen that we know today.
5. Leaving food out on Christmas Eve began with the Norse children who left hay and treats out for Odin's eight-legged reindeer named Sleipnir, hoping to entice them to stop by during their hunting adventures. Dutch children adopted this practice and began leaving food in wooden shoes for Saint Nicholas' horse.
6. Here's an unusual way to recycle your old Christmas tree. Some zoos take donated Christmas trees (live ones only, of course) and uses hem as food for some animals.
7. The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square is donated to the people of London every year by the people of Oslo, Norway in thanks for their help during World War II.
8. Likewise, The City of Boston has, since 1918 , received a giant Christmas tree as a gift from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Boston lent considerable support to the City of Halifax during their 1917 explosion and subsequent fire disaster.
9. The now-famous Christmas Truce in the Trenches of World War I happened in 1914 when the British and Germans exchanged gifts across the neutral no man's land, played football (soccer) together, and even decorated their shelters.
10. In 2010 during the Christmas season, the Colombian government decorated jungle trees with lights. The tree light lit up when the guerrillas walked past and banners appeared asking them to surrender their arms. This campaign ultimately convinced 331 guerrillas to re-enter society and won Colombia an award for strategic marketing excellence. Way to go, Colombia!
11. Bicycle, the US playing card company, manufactured playing cards to be donated to all the POWS in Germany during WWII as Christmas gifts. The playing cards, when soaked in water, revealed an escape route for the POWS. The Nazis never knew.
12. Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany. It was once made from real silver!
13. If you gave all the gifts listed in the Twelve Days of Christmas, it would equal 364 gifts.
14. NORAD's Santa tracker was born out of a misprint in the newspaper. A 1955 Sears ad was supposed to print the number of a store that children could call to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. Instead, the number that got printed was to the hotline of the Director of Operations for the U.S. Continental Air defense. (Oops!) Colonel Shoup ordered his staff to give the children updates on the flight coordinates of Santa.
15. The oldest artificial Christmas tree dates back to the late 1800's and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts). Next, the Addis Brush company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial trees that could hold heavier Christmas ornaments and were less flammable.
And your bonus fact...
You'd have to use an artificial Christmas tree for more than 20 years for it to be "greener" (more eco-friendly) than buying a fresh-cut tree each year.
I hope you enjoyed these facts and will have some fun sharing them with your co-workers, friends, and family.
This is my last blog until the 27th of December. I'm taking a little time off and hopping home for the holidays. I love spending Christmas with the family, especially little vrother, Quigley. He's so much fun on Christmas morning and remind me of, well, me at that age. He gets so excited about every little thing. I know he drives our folks crazy, just like I did. And, too, he's on holiday from school for two whole weeks! (Sorry, Mom.)
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Winter Soltice, Las Posadas, etc.
Happy Holidays, everyone! See you next week.
Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all men. (and frogs, too, of course!)