* Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, begins with the
Sunday nearest to St Andrews Day (November 30) and always includes
four Sundays. It can begin as early as November 27 or as late
as December 3 meaning that advent can vary in length between 21
days and 28 days.
* The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days between Christmas
Day and Epiphany and represent the length of time that the three
wise men from the East took to reach the manger of Jesus Christ
*The festival of Epiphany on January 6, for western churches,
commemorates the showing of the Christ child to the three wise
men. In the Orthodox tradition and other eastern churches it marks
* The names of the three wise men are Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior.
* 26 December is traditionally known as St Stephen's Day, but
in the UK it is more commonly known as Boxing Day. This expression
came about because money was collected in alms-boxes placed in
churches during the festive season.
* Silent Night was written in 1818, by Austrian priest Joseph
Mohr. The story goes that his church organ was broken so he had
to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music.
*The history of Santa Claus begins with a man called Saint Nicholas,
the Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, in what is now Turkey.
* The feast day of St Nicholas is December 6.
*St Nicholas is an extremely popular patron saint. As well as
being national saint of Greece and Russia he is also the patron
saint of brides, bakers and brewers, children, dockworkers, judges,
merchants, murderers, pawnbrokers, perfumiers and pilgrims!
*In the 1860s cartoonist Thomas Nast drew pictures of a plump
and kindly Santa Claus for the illustrated Harper's Weekly.
* Historians have traced some of the current traditions surrounding
Christmas, or Santa Claus, back to ancient Celtic roots. Father
elves are the modernization of the "Nature folk" of
the Pagan religions; his
reindeer are associated with the "Horned God," which
was one of the Pagan
* Santa Claus is the Anglicised version of Sinter Klaas, which
Dutch for Saint Nicholas.
* Santa Claus comes in many different guises including Pere Noel
in France, Julinesse in Denmark, Kriss Kringle in Germany, La
Befana in Italy, Babouschka in Russia and the Three Kings in Spain
and Mexico. In England he’s known as Father Christmas.
* The poem The Night Before Christmas, which played a major part
in propelling Santa Claus to superstar status was written by Clement
Moore for his children in 1822. It was published anonymously the
following year in a New York newspaper and was an international
*Early Christmas trees were often decorated with apples, nuts
* In 1834, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert brought the
Christmas tree to Windsor Castle for the Royal family.
* The tradition of a holiday tree has been around since ancient
times and has played an important part in winter celebrations
for many centuries.
* Poinsettia, a flower with close associations to Christmas, originated
in Mexico where it is known as Flower of the Holy Night.
* That old Christmas favourite Jingle Bells, much loved by children
at Christmas parties, wasn’t actually written for Christmas
at all. Originally titled One Horse Open Sleigh, it was written
in 1857 by James Pierpoint for the US celebration of Thanksgiving.
* The tradition of the UK monarch delivering a speech to the
nation on Christmas Day began in 1932.
* The fifth Sunday before Christmas is known as stir-up Sunday.
It is considered lucky on this day for everyone in a household
to help stir the Christmas pudding.
* In Scotland Christmas Day was not a public holiday until 1958.
*Last year the average person in the UK spent £568 on Christmas
*In Scotland the 12 days of Christmas used to be known as the
* Famous people born on Christmas Day include WC Field (1946),
Alice Cooper (1945) Princess Alexandra (1936) and Charlie Chaplin
* English Parliamentarian and Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell banned
Christmas between 1647 and 1660 as he believed the celebrations
were immoral and inappropriate for such a holy day.
* Good King Wenceslas, who in the song looked out on the feast
of Stephen, wasn’t strictly speaking a King at all. He was
a duke who ruled Bohemia in the 10th Century.
* The first charity Christmas card was printed by Unicef, the
United Nations Children Fund, in 1949.
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