Here are some jolly Christmas facts that will
arouse your interest :
- In the Ukraine, if you find a spider web in the house on Christmas
morning, it is believed to be a harbinger of good luck! This belief resulted
from an old Ukrainian folk tale, which told the story of a very poor woman.
So poor was she, that she could not even afford Christmas decorations for her
family. One Christmas morning, she awoke to find that spiders had trimmed her
children's tree with their webs. When the morning sun shone on them, the webs
turned to silver and gold. The woman took this as a godsend and her misery
ended forever. An artificial spider and web are, thus,often included in the
decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees.
- A famous Christmas tradition is to exchange kisses beneath the mistletoe
tree. Though the reason behind the choice of mistletoe in this custom is not
properly known, it may be well to remember that in ancient Scandinavia,
mistletoe was associated with peace and friendship. That may account for the
custom of "kissing beneath the mistletoe".
- Have you ever heard of "Hot cockles"? It was a popular game at Christmas
in medieval times. In this game, a player was blindfolded and the other
players took turns striking the blindfolded player, who had to guess the name
of the person delivering each blow. "Hot cockles" remained a Christmas
pastime until the Victorian era.
- In many households, part of the fun of eating Christmas pudding is finding
a trinket that predicts your fortune for the coming year. For instance,
finding a coin means you will become wealthy. A ring means you will get
married; while a button predicts bachelorhood. The idea of hiding something
in the pudding comes from the tradition in the Middle Ages of hiding a bean
in a cake that was served on Twelfth Night. Whoever found the bean was held
as the "king" for the rest of the night.
- Christmas Pudding originates from an old, Celtic dish known as "Frumenty".
Frumenty was a spiced porridge, enjoyed by both rich and poor. It was a
forerunner of modern Christmas puddings. According to the old Celtic legend,
it is linked to the Celtic god Dagda, who stirred a porridge made up of all
the good things of the earth.
- In Greek legend, malicious creatures called Kallikantzaroi sometimes play
troublesome pranks at Christmas time. In order to get rid of them, salt or an
old shoe is burnt. The pungent burning stench drives off, or at least helps
discourage, the Kallikantzaroi. Other techniques include hanging a pig's
jawbone by the door and keeping a large fire so that they can't sneak down
- The poinsettia is a traditional Christmas flower. In Mexico (its original
birthplace), the poinsettia is known as the "Flower of the Holy Night". Since
the 19th century, the poinsettia has been associated with Christmas.
- Louis Prang, a Bavarian-born lithographer who came to the USA from Germany
in the 19th century, popularized the sending of printed Christmas cards. He
invented a way of reproducing color oil paintings,known as the
"chromolithograph technique", and created a card with the message "Merry
Christmas" as a way of showing it off.
- The "Urn of Fate" is part of the Christmas celebrations in many Italian
households. The Urn of Fate is brought out on Christmas Eve. But what is it?
The mother tries her luck first, then the others in turn. If you get a
present with your name on it, you keep it; otherwise, you put it back and try
again. The Urn of Fate, an old Italian tradition, is a large ornamental bowl
that holds wrapped gifts for members of the family. When the family gets
together, each member takes his turn at drawing a gift from the urn until all
the presents are distributed.
- In Sweden, a common Christmas decoration is the Julbukk, a small figurine
of a goat. It is usually made of straw. Scandinavian Christmas festivities
feature a variety of straw decorations in the form of stars, angels, hearts
and other shapes, as well as the Julbukk.
- Santa Claus has two addresses - Edinburgh & North Pole. Letters addressed
to "Toyland" or "Snowland" go to Edinburgh, but letters addressed to "The
North Pole" are really sent to the North Pole because, as you know, there is
really such a place.
- In 1647, Christmas was made illegal by a law that was passed by the
English Parliament. Christmas festivities were banned by Puritan leader
Oliver Cromwell, who considered feasting and revelry as immoral actions that
were performed on the holy day that Christmas was. It was only when the
Puritans lost power in 1660, that the strict ban on Christmas was lifted.
- The first Christmas Pudding was made as a kind of soup with raisins and
wine in it.
- Have you heard of "Animal Crackers"? Are these crackers made by animals?
Not really! These are cookies that were imported to the United States from
England in the late 1800s. Barnum's circus-like boxes were designed with a
string handle so that they could be hung on a Christmas tree.
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