December is here, and with it, so is the fervent holiday season that everyone looks forward to. Safe to say, Christmas is possibly the pinnacle of this festive season, completed by massive New Year’s celebrations across the world. Known to be a major festival for Christians, Christmas has moved on from a religious holiday, to being a widely celebrated day across the world. With such a day being widely celebrated across the world for so long, numerous facts surround the day, which many of us are not aware of. Here’s elucidating 9 such facts about Christmas, which you may or may not have known.
1. Not every Christian in the world observe Christmas – Christmas is known and observed by most as the birth of Jesus Christ. However, not all Christians have been known to be completely accepting to the notion of Christmas. The Puritans, for instance, have had a war regarding Christmas, and the Armenians celebrate their own Christmas on January 6. Incidentally, this date was the one that was celebrated as the birth of Jesus, until 4th Century AD.
The fact that there is no single date pointed out in the Holy Bible, or that the circumstances highlighted during Jesus’ birth do not favour a wintry situation, have added more fuel to certain groups of Christians not observing Christmas on December 25, the now-observed date is according to the Gregorian calendar.
2. The birth date of Jesus is highly debatable – History states that January 6 was celebrated as the birth date of Jesus Christ, but was later shifted to December 25, in order to override the same date as the day of birth of the unconquered Sun. Other dates mentioned as the date of birth of Christ include November 28, May 20 and March 28. Adding to the fact that circumstances during the Biblical description of the birth of Jesus Christ does not exactly suggest the season winter, and the birth date of Jesus is harder to guess than any.
3. It takes 7 years for a Christmas tree to grow to usable height – A Christmas tree is used only if it is at least 6-7 feet in height, and it takes almost 7 years to grow that high. This essentially means that for a Christmas tree to fully grow, it would take as long as you would take to clear your school’s final examination, and complete both graduation and post-graduation college degrees. That’s a long, long time, isn’t it?
4. The three traditional colours of Christmas are green, red and gold – According to tradition, the green stands for life and rebirth, the red symbolises the blood of Christ, and gold signifies light, wealth and royalty.
5. If Santa was for real, he would have had a really difficult task to accomplish – Even without being real, Santa’s job is profoundly difficult, just to sustain his reputation as a giving, jolly old man. Assuming an average of 2.5 children per household and the total number of under-18s in the world, Santa would simply have needed to visit about 850 million households across a time span of 34 hours (he would have the extra 10 hours thanks to the International Date Line). The is no mean feat, and Santa would have needed to travel at speeds of about 20.5 billion metres per second, or a whopping 73.8 billion kilometres, every hour. No wonder he couldn’t be for real – he wouldn’t even have retained his ‘mass’, at such speeds.
6. Christmas has a number of Pagan roots – This is one fact many might not know – Christmas has a lot of Pagan links. To begin with, the Pagans used and worshiped evergreen trees as symbols of life and rebirth, which have their present iterations in the form of Christmas trees. The Pagan festival, Kalends (from January 1-5), was the precursor to the Twelve Days of Christmas, while Christmas itself, or December 25, was known to Pagans as Deus Sol Invictus – the birth of the unconquerable Sun.
7. Sir Isaac Newton was born, and Charlie Chaplin died, on Christmas – As it so happens, December 25 has seen the birth of at least one legend, and the death of one more. Sir Isaac Newton, according to then-in-use English calendar, was born on December 25, 1642, but the shift to the Gregorian calendar post-dates it to January 4, 1643. Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin passed away on December 25, 1977, after his legendary career that saw films like City Lights and The Great Dictator sparkle his glittering career.
8. There is a dedicated ‘Santa Flight Tracker’, and Santa’s own postal code – Yes, there is a dedicated ‘Santa Flight Tracker’ in the United States of America, which began after a newspaper advertisement’s printing error saw children’s mails being diverted to the United States Air Defense Command office. The then-Colonel kindly took it upon himself to keep the spirit of festivity alive with children, thereby starting a service that has since existed for the last 60 years.
In Canada, Santa has his own postal code, in the same light of festivity. Not surprisingly, the postal code is H0H 0H0.
9. Christmas trees have often been banned – US President Theodore Roosevelt was a passionate conservationist who detested Christmas trees, and banned them from being put up anywhere in the White House, during his term. His own son, Archie, had to hide his own Christmas tree in a closet, back in 1902. Talk of strict parenting!
There are many more such myths and mysteries surrounding the widely accepted holiday of Christmas, and the ethos of it. If you happen to know more that should be in this list, please let us know by commenting. Merry Christmas!