Useless Information

December 2023


  • The tradition of Christmas trees goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans, who decorated with evergreens during the winter solstice to signify that spring would return. Evergreens reminded them of all the green plants that were to grow once the sun returned.
  • While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the actual date of the big event is lost to history. There’s no mention of December 25 in the Bible and many historians say Jesus was most likely born in the spring. Some historians posit the date was originally chosen because it coincided with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which honored the agricultural god Saturn with celebrating and gift-giving.
  • You probably already knew that the idea of Santa Claus came from St. Nicholas. The saint wasn’t really a bearded man who wore a red suit; that look came much later. In the fourth century, the Christian bishop gave away his large inheritance to the poor and rescued women from servitude. In Dutch, his name is Sinter Klaas, which later morphed into Santa Claus.
  • Before Coca-Cola decided to use his image for advertising, Santa looked more spooky than jolly. Then, in 1931, the beverage company hired an illustrator named Haddon Sundblom to depict the jolly old man for magazine ads. Now, kids see visions of sugarplums instead of having Santa-themed nightmares.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in 1939 when the Montgomery Ward department store asked one of its copywriters to create a Christmas story for kids that the store could distribute as a promotion. In the first year alone 2.4 million copies were distributed and late in 1949 Gene Autry recorded the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
  • Rudolph was almost named Rollo or Reginald and his crew also had lots of other names. They’ve previously been called Flossie, Glossie, Racer, Pacer, Scratcher, Feckless, Ready, Steady and Fireball.
  • From 1659 to 1681, anyone caught making merry in the colonies would face a fine for celebrating. The Massachusetts Bay Colony created the Penalty for Keeping Christmas. It was thought that “such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries” and were “a great dishonor of God and offense of others. The penalty for breaking the law was five shillings.”
  • By the Revolutionary War, the day had so little significance that Congress even held their first session on December 25, 1789. Christmas wasn’t even proclaimed a federal holiday for almost another century, proving that the Grinch’s attitude toward the holiday was alive and well long before he was.
Borrowed by Daheap from Interesting Christmas Facts…by Asher Fogle and Lizz Schumer