Bizarre facts about Christmas: 10 conversation starters for the next Christmas party

Bizarre facts about Christmas: 10 conversation starters for the next Christmas party

#1 Feathery Christmas trees

If killing a tree and displaying it in your living room isn’t your thing, you may decide to go with the less cruel option of buying an artificial Christmas tree that lasts for more than one festive season. Believed to have been introduced in Germany in the 1860’s, the first fake Christmas trees were made of goose feathers that were dyed green.

#2 Silver decorations

If goose feathers isn’t astonishing enough, this might be: A lot of people like to decorate their Christmas trees with tinsel. It’s sparkly, glamorous, and just overall very Christmasy. But did you know that this popular decor was originally made from extruded silver? That’s right, real silver! It was again popularised by the Germans, and quickly caught on due to the sparkly effect. Today, tinsel is made from various forms of plastic, which is much lighter and, obviously, cheaper.

#3 Spider decorations

Now it gets even more extravagant: Finding a spider or a spider's web in your Christmas tree is a symbol of good luck in many Eastern European countries, particularly in the Ukraine! This is due to the Christmas spider legend, which tells the story of a poor widow who lived in a small hut with her children. They discovered a pinecone in the summer and nurtured it until it grew into a lovely tree! They couldn't afford to decorate the tree for Christmas, but when they awoke on Christmas morning, the tree was covered in elegant cobwebs that glistened gold and silver in the sunlight. And the widow and her children have never been in poverty since!

#4 Jingle all the way to space

Since 1960’s there have been a lot of firsts when it comes to humanity reaching beyond our planet. On December 16, 1965, one scenario even made the Guinness World Record, when the crew of NASA’s Gemini 6A space flight made the famous Christmas tune “Jingle Bells” the first song to ever play in space. Well, as far as human music is concerned.

#5 Festive tunes from a teenager

And while we’re talking about Christmas tunes: “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” is a classic holiday song to be blaring out of speakers everywhere during the festive season. Rerecorded by artists like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, the original tune was released back in 1958. What’s interesting is that the classic hit song was originally sung by Brenda Lee, who was only 13 years old at the time.

#6 The term ‘Xmas’ is older than you think 

One might assume that the abbreviation ‘Xmas’ is a recent invention. But in reality, this short version of Christmas dates back over 500 years and originates from the Greek alphabet: The Greek character for "chi" serves as the letter "X" in the Greek alphabet, which is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ (Xριστός = Christos). Christ has so frequently been abbreviated as the letter X. The "mas" in Christmas refers back to a church service, and when you combine the two, you get Xmas!

Therefore, there is no need to be concerned while using the phrase since it predates many of our favorite Christmas customs!

#7 The 25 doors till Christmas

Another Christmas tradition invented by the Germans is the advent calendar: While the religious advent season begins four weeks before Christmas, the celebratory advent calendars most people use today usually begin on December 1 and date back to the nineteenth century. German Protestants began the practice by lighting candles or making chalk marks on doors every day in December.

Bonus fun fact: Modern German advent calendars only have 24 doors, because the tradition of giving Christmas gifts in Germany happens on the 24th of December.

#8 Marketing campaign becomes Christmas tale

We all know the story of poor Rudolph struggling to blend in with Santa's other reindeer from the classic Christmas tale Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. However, did you realise he was developed for a marketing initiative? In 1939, the American retail company Montgomery Ward commissioned Robert L. May to write a poem for one of their kid-friendly colouring books. This gave birth to Rudolph, our favorite reindeer, who has since become a global cultural icon for kids! 

#9 From fireplace to Christmas crackers

In the late 1840s, Tom Smith, a London sweet maker, sat by a crackling log fire and imagined how entertaining it would be if his wrapped sweets made the same noise when opened. Soon after, 'Cosaques,' a log-shaped sweet bundle with an unexpected crackle element inside, hit the market. The public dubbed them crackers, and by the early twentieth century, hats, jokes, and various knickknacks had replaced the sweet treats inside.

#10 Lastly, a bit of a fun fact about Santa:

If Santa truly delivered gifts on Christmas Eve, he would have to visit nearly 240 million homes around the world in a single night. To do this, he’d need to travel at 3,000 times the speed of sound and visit over 800 homes per second! On the up side (or not?), old Santa Claus would get to snack on 720 million cookies and drink enough milk to fill 23 Olympic-sized swimming pools—all in just in one night.

Got your Xmas gifts sorted?

If you're still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for friends, family and co-workers, look no further: Check out the range of hilarious journal titles from WTF Notebooks.

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