Interesting Facts About Christmas.
1. A Very Merry Un Birthday
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible doesnt actually mention a specific date for Jesus birth. In fact, most historians believe he was probably born in the spring, hence the Bibles 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. War on Christmas
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 wasnt 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.
3. Christmas in the Colonies
From 1659 to 1681, showcasing ones holiday spirit in Boston could cost you a fine of as much as five shillings. Thats right Christmas used to be illegal. Its somewhat surprising, then, that the same puritanical minds also created the first American batch of eggnog at Captain John Smiths 1607 Jamestown settlement. (The word nog comes from the word grog; that is, any drink made with rum.) Christmas was so inconsequential in early America that after the Revolutionary War, Congress didnt even bother taking the day off to celebrate the holiday, deciding instead to hold its first session on Christmas Day, 1789. It took almost a century for Congress to proclaim it a federal holiday.
4. Xmas Lit 101
The author best known for creating the Headless Horseman also created the iconic image of Santa flying in a sleigh. In his 1819 series of short stories The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, New York native Washington Irving described a dream in which St. Nicholas soared across the sky in a weightless wagon. The stories became so popular, they spawned a Christmas revival of sorts in the States, and even Charles Dickens is said to have credited Irvings work for inspiring his classic holiday tale A Christmas Carol.
5. What Advertising Hath Wrought
Like the Energizer Bunny, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer got his start as an advertising gimmick. A copywriter named Robert L. May first created the merry misfit in 1939 to lure shoppers into the Montgomery Ward department store. Frosty the Snowman and his famous corncob pipe couldnt escape the clutches of the advertising industry either; a whiskeymaker in 1890 used Frostys likeness to showcase an entirely different kind of holiday cheer. Once Prohibition ended, the chain smoking snowman quickly became the go to guy for alcohol ads, appearing in posters for Miller beer, Jack Daniels, Ballantine ale, Rheingold beer, Schlitz beer, Schenley, Oretels lager beer, Chivas Regal scotch, Fort Pitt pale ale, Mount Whitney beer and Four Roses.
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