With the Christmas lights gleaming on Grafton street, people scurrying around trying to find presents and Mariah Carey’s ‘all I want for Christmas is you’ playing on repeat, Christmas 2014 has crept up and just around the corner, so why not get in the holiday spirit with some interesting facts you didn’t know about Christmas.
1. Christmas whitewashing: Around Christmas time, you’ll still find the odd farm building out in the Irish countryside that looks like it’s just been whitewashed. Long ago, farm families cleaned and then whitewashed every building on the farm in December. They were covered in white paint or lime wash, to symbolically purify them for the coming of the Savior.
2.Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbours to a long life.’ The Wassail Song’ is among the best known of the traditional wassail songs, and was well known throughout England by the middle 19th century. It’s roots however, certainly go back even further.
3.The ‘NORAD’ Santa tracker started as an error in a newspaper ad: in 1955, a Sears ad printed the phone number of a Colorado Springs store so children could tell Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas. The number was a misprint and instead sent children to the hotline for Colonel Harry Shoup, Director of Operations for the US Continental Air Defense. The calls poured in and instead of blocking the number, the kindly Colonel ordered his staff to give children updates on Santa’s flight coordinates. The tradition has continued to this very day on the local news, the Internet and with a special “NORAD Tracks Santa” iPhone app.
4.Santa Claus originated in a newspaper ad: Santa Claus first appeared in a newspaper ad for toys and “gift books” in the mid 19th century.
5.Hanging stockings out comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas’s donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
6.Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer got his start in advertising in 1939. Copywriter Robert May created him for Montgomery Ward department store to attract shoppers.
7.X-mas: We usually write Merry Christmas as “Merry Xmas.” Where did this abbreviation come from? X actually originates from the Greek letter Chi, which is similar to Christ.
8.Before The typical turkey and ham dinner, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig’s head and mustard.
9. Coca – Cola did not ‘create’ Santa Many people think that Coca-Cola’s iconic portrait of Santa has shaped the way we describe him to children. In reality, he’s actually more of an “evolutionary figure” whose look has been shaped by writers, artists and even historians. Images of the familiar bearded fat man in a red suit appeared in magazines, posters and ads long before Coke’s jolly portrayal of Saint Nick.
10.Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner: thanks to a successful marketing campaign 40 years ago. KFC is so popular that customers must place their Christmas orders 2 months in advance.
Courtest of DIT’s Independent college newspaper the Edition