While the hustle and bustle for Christmas takes centrestage, calitown.com scoops up take away material for your reading pleasure and it doesn’t come better than these:
1.Contrary to popular belief, the Bible doesn’t actually mention a specific date for Jesus’ birth. In fact, most historians believe he was probably born in the spring, hence the Bible’s description of shepherds herding animals. But in the 4th century, when the Catholic Church decided to recognize Jesus’ birth as an official holiday, Pope Julius I chose December 25 for the Feast of the Nativity. That the date happened to coincide with the pagan festival known as Saturnalia must have been pure coincidence.
2.Christmas traditions vary from culture to culture. Finns often visit saunas on Christmas Eve, while Portuguese revelers hold a feast on Christmas Day for the living and the dead (extra places are set for the souls of the deceased). In Greece, some believe that goblins called kallikantzeri run wild during the 12 days of Christmas, and most Greeks don’t exchange presents until Jan. 1, St. Basil’s Day. Thanks to their geographic location, most Australians and New Zealanders enjoy Christmas on the beach or at barbecues. Spain, meanwhile, hosts the world’s largest lottery.
3.Even before the arrival of Christianity, Germans decorated evergreen trees to brighten the dark, gloomy days of the winter solstice. The first “Christmas trees” appeared in Strasbourg in the 17th century and spread to Pennsylvania in the 1820s with the arrival of German immigrants. When Queen Victoria married Germany’s Prince Albert in 1840, he brought the tradition to England. Eight years later, the first American newspaper ran a picture of the royal Christmas tree, and Americans outside Pennsylvania quickly followed suit.
4.Five months into the first World War, troops along the Western front took a Christmas Eve break from fighting to sing carols to one another across the battlefield. The following morning, German soldiers emerged from the trenches and began to approach Allied troops while calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Luckily, it wasn’t a trick; dozens of British fighters came out to greet them and shake hands, some even exchanging cigarettes as gifts. Later dubbed the Christmas Truce of 1914, it was one of the last examples of wartime chivalry.
5.Charms were often dropped into the plum pudding mix before it was cooked. Tradition states that a ring, a button, a thimble, and a coin should be added. The lucky (or unlucky), person to find one of these objects can expect marriage, spinsterhood, bachelorhood, or wealth respectively, during the following year.
6.The earliest decorations on trees associated with Christmas are detailed in the Medieval plays that tell the story of Adam and Eve. The trees in the Garden of Eden were, according to these legends, adorned with apples and cookies.
7.Gifts have been wrapped since the invention of paper circa 105 A.D. in China. Decorative gift wrap didn’t take off until Christmas 1917, when the Hall Brothers’ store in Nebraska sold out of tissue for customers to wrap holiday packages. As a substitute, they sold decorative French envelope lining.
8.Wrapping Christmas presents is quite a recent tradition. In the 19th century, unwrapped gifts were put under a Christmas tree, or hung on the branches. Sometimes, people would even hide a gift to prolong the excitement of finding out what it was.
Culled from www.rdasia.com
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