Christmas Facts from Travels with Harley

Christmas

The tradition of Christmas began with honoring Christ’s birth, however, it evolved from Saturnalia, the Roman tradition of honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture during the winter solstice.

Because of the celebration, it was natural to celebrate Christ’s birth on the same date. This means that nobody knows exactly when Jesus was born. Some theologians believe that Christ was actually born during the spring.

Christmas

Gift Giving

The tradition of gift giving began with the Three Wise Men who gave gifts to the newborn King. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were presented to Jesus to thank him for coming into the world as the new savior. However, as with many Christian holidays, the true origin of giving presents came from the Pagans.

During Saturnalia, children would often receive wax dolls to represent the Roman human sacrifices that were given to Saturn in the past for good harvests. Tree boughs and plants were also quite common gifts during Saturnalia to represent good harvests.

Christmas

X-Mas

Some people that X-Mas was created to keep Christ out of C-H-R-S-T-M-A-S, but that couldn’t be further from the tree. The true origin of X-Mas is based in Christianity with the X standing for the Greek letter Chi, the first letter for the Greek word for Christ.
Since the 16th century, people have been using the term X-Mas with it becoming more prominent in the 19th and 19th centuries.

Christmas

Christmas Carols

Christmas carols were developed around the 4th century in Rome, grew from the first hymns of the time, and were sung in Latin. The first true Christmas Carols came out of Italy, Germany, and France in the 13th century. The carols were sung at community festivals and events.

Christmas

The songs would eventually become associated with Christmas while carols in the protestant churches were numerous as the protestant community encouraged music and the arts.

Caroling door to door comes from the word carula, carole, or carol which literally means a circular dance. The practice of caroling door to door may also have developed out of the public festivals and ceremonies that were responsible for the first Christmas carols.

Merry Christmas from Travels with Harley!

More Little Known Christmas Facts

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Before Travels with Harley gets into our last blog about Christmas facts, Jim and Demea would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and an even Happier New Year. Now, let’s get back to the things that you didn’t know about Christmas.

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Leave it to the Scandinavians, most notably the Norwegian scientists, who have come up with a hypothesis that Rudolph’s cherry red nose is most probably the result of an unfortunate parasitic infection coming from his respiratory system. If you have been reading our little known Christmas facts, you will know that couldn’t possibly be the case. One thing that Travels with Harley didn’t tell you was that Montgomery Ward almost gave Rudolph a different colored nose as the top brass thought that the public would perceive Rudolph as a drunkard.

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The biggest Christmas stocking in the world measured in at 106 feet plus another 9 inches long and a massive 49 feet and an inch wide. Weighing as much as five of Santa’s reindeer, the largest Christmas stocking on the planet was stuffed with nearly 1,000 gifts and was made in London by the Children’s Society on December 14 in 2007.

The British, Australians and other Commonwealth countries open their Christmas Crackers, also known as Bon Bons, which are tubes wrapped up in paper with prizes inside on Christmas Day during Christmas lunch, brunch, or dinner. Once popped open, yes they make a sound much like a firecracker, the Christmas Crackers contain everything from toys to paper crowns that dinner guests wear during the Christmas meal.

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The gorgeous poinsettia plants that adorn homes all over the world are actually native to Mexico, and although it is considered poisonous, it is not. However, holy berries are. The poinsettia was originally cultivated by the Aztecs. The Aztecs called it Cuetlaxochitl, which translates to, “Flower which wilts.” The plants color symbolizes purity and was quite often used to help reduce fever.

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President Theodore Roosevelt was a vocal environmentalist and in 1901, forbid live Christmas Trees in the White House.

This Christmas be kind to your friends and family and don’t forget to remember why we celebrate. Merry Christmas to all, and as they say, to all a good night…

Interesting Christmas Trivia

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The holidays are here and that means Christmas is just around the corner, but as you most probably know, Christmas is more than just shopping, baking and eating. Christmas is the time of year when Travels with Harley takes a moment to remember family, friends, and the magic of the season. With that being said, Travels with Harley would like to share some Christmas trivia that you probably don’t know.

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Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer started as a Montgomery Ward store promotion back in 1939. Robert May was hired to write a story about Christmas that could be given away to shoppers. Mays brother in law was so impressed that he wrote a song in 1949 prompting Burl Ives to record it 10 years later in 1949.

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The very first Grinch who Stole Christmas TV special was released in 1966 with Boris Karloff narrating the series. Dr. Seuss’s creator, Theodor Seuss Geisel, originally thought that Mr. Karloff would be too scary for the special, but the network won out and proved that Boris and the Grinch were a perfect fit.

According to legend, the real St. Nicholas was born around 280 A.D. in modern day Turkey. Apparently he gave away all of his wealth to the unfortunate throughout the country, which grew into the legend of Santa Claus.

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Egg Nog would have to be the beverage that is most associated with Christmas. Historians track the Nog back to 1607 when Captain John Smith consumed it in the settlement of Jamestown. Nog refers to Grog that refers to any beverage made with rum.

Mrs. Santa Claus first hit the scene when she was mentioned in, “A Christmas Legend,” in 1849. Christian missionary James Rees who told the story of an old man and an old woman who carried bundles on their backs before given shelter on Christmas Eve wrote the short story.

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The Germans are responsible for the world’s first artificial Christmas tree crafting them out of dyed goose and duck feathers.

According to data collected by the social media website Facebook, the most popular time for a couple to break up is 14 days before Christmas. However, Christmas Day is the least favorite break up day.

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Quite a few countries in Europe believe that good and evil spirits were quite active during the period leading up to Christmas. The spirits became Santa’s elves thanks to Clement C. Moore’s classic tale, “The Night before Christmas.”

Every year more than 20,000, “Rent a Santa’s,” share the Christmas joy across the United States. These Santa’s receive mandatory seasonal training in order to maintain the jolly old St. Nick attitude that Santa is known for. Practical advice is also given including avoiding onions, garlic and beans during their tenure as Santa.

Next week we’ll share more interesting Christmas tidbits in another Travels with Harley blog.