Thursday, December 23, 2010

Today's Trivia – Christmas

It’s two days before Christmas, so you just know what this week’s trivia is going to be...

All About Christmas

Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday. This tradition began in 1836.

In the Ukraine, if you find a spider web in the house on Christmas morning, it is believed to be a harbinger of good luck! There once lived a woman so poor, says a Ukrainian folk tale, that she could not afford Christmas decorations for her family. One Christmas morning, she awoke to find that spiders had trimmed her children’s tree with their webs. When the morning sun shone on them, the webs turned to silver and gold. An artificial spider and web are often included in the decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees.

The Friday and Saturday before Christmas are the two busiest shopping days of the year.

Many theologians estimate that Jesus wasn't born on December 25 but sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD.

California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon is the leading producer of Christmas trees.

Charles Dickens' initial choice for Scrooge's statement "Bah Humbug" was "Bah Christmas."

Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.

Although now mostly vegetarian, in Victorian times, mince pies were made with beef and spices.

In ancient Scandinavia, mistletoe was associated with peace and friendship. That may account for the custom of "kissing beneath the mistletoe".

Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbours to a long life.

English Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas between 1647 and 1660 because he believed such celebrations were immoral for the holiest day of the year.

Gold-wrapped chocolate coins commemorate St Nicholas who gave bags of gold coins to the poor.

The abbreviation Xmas isn't irreligious. The letter X is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.

In 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world's biggest snowman. He stood 113 feet tall.

In Greek legend, malicious creatures called Kallikantzaroi sometimes play troublesome pranks at Christmas time. In order to get rid of them, salt or an old shoe is burnt. The pungent burning stench drives off, or at least helps discourage, the Kallikantzaroi. Other techniques include hanging a pig’s jawbone by the door and keeping a large fire so they can’t sneak down the chimney.

In many households, part of the fun of eating Christmas pudding is finding a trinket that predicts your fortune for the coming year. For instance, finding a coin means you will become wealthy. A ring means you will get married; while a button predicts bachelorhood. The idea of hiding something in the pudding comes from the tradition in the Middle Ages of hiding a bean in a cake that was served on Twelfth Night. Whoever found the bean became "king" for the rest of the night.

In Sweden, a common Christmas decoration is the Julbukk, a small figurine of a goat. It is usually made of straw. Scandinavian Christmas festivities feature a variety of straw decorations in the form of stars, angels, hearts and other shapes, as well as the Julbukk.

Louis Prang, a Bavarian-born lithographer who came to the USA from Germany in the 19th century, popularized the sending of printed Christmas cards. He invented a way of reproducing color oil paintings, the "chromolithograph technique", and created a card with the message "Merry Christmas" as a way of showing it off.

The Christmas tree displayed in Trafalgar square in London is an annual gift to the UK from Norway since 1947. The Norwegian spruce given is a token of appreciation of British friendship during World War II from the Norwegian people.

Nearly 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.

Popular belief holds that 3 wise men visited Bethlehem from the east bearing gifts. However there is no mention in the bible about the number of wise men who visited.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was invented for a US firm's Christmas promotion in 1938.

The "Urn of Fate" is part of the Christmas celebrations in many Italian households. The Urn of Fate is brought out on Christmas Eve. It holds a wrapped present for everyone. The mother tries her luck first, then the others in turn. If you get a present with your name on it, you keep it; otherwise, you put it back and try again.

The poinsettia is a traditional Christmas flower. In Mexico (its original birthplace), the poinsettia is known as the "Flower of the Holy Night".

The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

The twelve days of Christmas are the days between Christmas Day and Epiphany (6th of January) and represent the length of time it took for the wise men from the East to visit the manger of Jesus after his birth.

US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world's presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.

The typical image we have of Santa Claus dressed in red clothes with white fur trim is an amalgamation of cultural input over many years. Some people claim the image of Santa we know today is from Coca-cola advertising, but this simply isn't true.

There are 13 Santas in Iceland, each leaving a gift for children. They come down from the mountain one by one, starting on December 12 and have names like Spoon Licker, Door Sniffer and Meat Hook.

The world's tallest Xmas tree at 221 feet high was erected in a Washington shopping mall in 1950.

Say 'Merry Christmas' around the world!

Argentina: Feliz Navidad
Brazil: Boas Festas
China (Mandarin): Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
Croatia: Sretan Bozic
Denmark: Glædelig Jul Esperanto: Gajan Kristnaskon
Finland: Hyvää Joulua
France: Joyeux Noël
Germany: Froehliche Weihnachten
Greece: Kala Christouyenna
Hawaii: Mele Kalikimaka
Iceland: Gledileg Jol
India: Shub Naya Baras
Iraq: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Ireland: Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Italy: Buone Feste Natalizie
Japan: Shinnen omedeto
Korea: Sung Tan Chuk Ha Lapland: Buorrit Juovllat
Netherlands: Vrolijk Kerstfeest
New Zealand (Maori): Meri Kirihimete
Philippines: Maligayang Pasko
Poland: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portugal: Boas Festas
Russia: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Serbia: Hristos se rodi
Spain: Feliz Navidad
Sri Lanka: Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Sweden + Norway: God Jul
Thailand: Sawadee Pee Mai
Vietnam: Chung Mung Giang Sinh
Yugoslavia: Cestitamo Bozic

And finally...

Some Of The Names For Santa Around The World

Afghanistan: Baba Chaghaloo
Albania: Babadimri
Armenia: Gaghant Baba
Belgium: Pere Noel
Brazil: Papai Noel
Chile: Viejo Pascuero
China: Dun Che Lao Ren
Denmark: Julemanden
Egypt: Papa Noël
France: Pere Noel
Finland: Joulupukki
Germany: Weihnachtsmann
Hungary: Mikulas
Iran: Baba Noel
Iraq: Vader Kersfees
Ireland: Daidí na Nollaig
Italy: Babbo Natale
Japan: Hoteiosho
Norway: Julenissen
Poland: Swiety Mikolaj
Portugal: Pai Natal
Romania: Mos Craciun
Russia: Ded Moroz
South Africa: Vader Kersfees
Spain: Papá Noel
Sweden: Jultomten
Turkey: Noel Baba
United Kingdom: Father Christmas


  1. Maligayang Pasko sa iyo at sa iyong pamilya!

  2. I found the bit about the Kallikantzaroi interesting - a Fantasy book I recently read contains creatures called "kallikans", I wonder if there is a connection?

  3. Very interesting, Martha! Thanks for mentioning the Epiphany---a lot of people think we're weird for leaving our decorations, tree, and creche up through January 6. :-)

  4. Thank you! And a Merry Christmas to you and your family, Bom!


    Ivynettle, I wouldn't be surprised since they're fantasy creatures. I've heard the word Kallikantzaroi from my parents and some other older folks in my life, but I've never been clear on what they are exactly. I should ask my mother again. She'll get a laugh out of me asking something so out of the ordinary.


    Beth, in Greece, where my parents originate from, the epiphany is well recognized, and it's celebrated in our religion, so I'm very familiar with it. We leave the Xmas decorations up until at least the first week of January is over, sometimes longer, so I guess we're just as weird :)