6 things you may not know about Christmas


Christmas has many traditions that are so entrenched you probably don't give them much thought. But when you consider why things are done the way they are, you'll find that just about every element of Christmas has an interesting, evolving story behind it.

RELATED: Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree

Here are six things you may not know about Christmas:

Why is Christmas celebrated on Dec. 25?

Dec. 25 probably wasn't the day when Jesus was born, according to History.com. Since shepherds and their sheep were present, it was probably sometime in the spring.

The first record of a holiday honoring Jesus' birthday doesn't appear until after three centuries of Christianity's existence. Church officials decided to recognize Dec. 25 as his birthday, probably to coincide with the date of pagan festivals in an attempt to get pagans to accept Christianity as the official religion.

Why do we put up Christmas trees?

Christianity Today says that early Romans used evergreen branches to decorate their homes in winter and ancient residents of northern Europe planted evergreen trees inside boxes in their homes. Early Christians frowned on these actions, but eventually loosened their view of the practice.

Germans and the Dutch embraced the idea of an indoor Christmas tree and brought it to the New World in the 1800s. The practice spread even more when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Germany, who brought the Christmas tree tradition to England. An American newspaper published a picture of the royal tree and the practice spread more widely in this country, which apparently was interested in news about the royals even back then.

What's the deal with hanging stockings?

This practice is rooted more in myth than fact, according to Time. As the story goes, St. Nicholas found a family in need, where a poor widower was trying to raise three daughters.

The man couldn't provide a dowry, which were money, goods or real estate handed over to a husband from a bried-to-be’s family, for his daughters to get married, so St. Nicholas dropped gold coins down the chimney. They landed in the girls' stockings, which were hung by the fireplace to dry.

Thus, began the practice of hanging stockings by the fireplace to be filled with treats, though if you're like most people, you're more likely to get candy than gold.

Why do we give and receive gifts?

People used to open presents on New Year's Day, not Christmas, according to Live Science. It was supposed to make them feel good as one year ended and another began.

Giving gifts moved to Christmas in the 1800s, and became more popular because of those trend-setting royals – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert again – who bought gifts for their children and also exchanged them with one another. Christians were thought to embrace the practice because they believed it tied in well to the gifts the Magi brought to Jesus.

Did Coca-Cola invent the modern image of Santa Claus?

The popular Coca-Cola Santa image may have helped popularize this "look" for the jolly gift giver – rotund, rosy-cheeked and with a red suit (because that's Coke's color) trimmed with white fur, but the company didn't come up with a completely original look, according to both Snopes and Coca-Cola.

Snopes says that by the time Coke started to use the now-iconic image in their ads, this type of image of Santa Claus was already present.

Why do we kiss underneath the mistletoe?

Ancient cultures believed mistletoe could cure many ailments, according to History.com. But it wasn't until the first century that the Celtic Druids viewed it as something that could restore fertility since it blossomed even in winter.

By the 18th century, mistletoe had become a part of Christmas celebrations. The kissing tradition apparently started among English servants. Men could get a kiss from a woman standing under the mistletoe, and refusing the kiss was believed to be bad luck. In addition, the kissing couple sometimes picked a berry from the mistletoe for each kiss, stopping when the berries were gone.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

67-year-old Jane Seymour poses for ‘Playboy,’ ‘I feel much sexier now’
67-year-old Jane Seymour poses for ‘Playboy,’ ‘I feel much sexier now’

Elegant actress Jane Seymour is about to grace the pages of “Playboy” magazine at 67-years-old. >> Read more trending news  The former Bond girl took to social media Wednesday to share a modest photograph from her upcoming spread in the iconic men’s magazine. “I’m thrilled to finally share this with you! I was...
Here are tips on keeping a snake-free yard
Here are tips on keeping a snake-free yard

Forget about "Snakes on a Plane," we're more concerned with snakes in the yard. Even though snakes are nowhere near as prevalent as our irrational fears would have us think (assuming you don't live smack dab in the middle of rattlesnake territory), if you're a homeowner with a bit of landscape or yard under your direction, you may encounter...
Famed florist to present during Atlanta Botanical Garden Flower Show

Celebrity floral artist Bruno Duarte got into the business on the ground floor. Literally, the floor. “I originally started sweeping the floor at a flower shop and then realized that I loved it,” he said. “I decided to go to school and realized it could be an art form.&rdquo...
CNN denies feeding Parkland student scripted question at town hall

=auto” width=”640″ height=”395″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen=”” mozallowfullscreen=”” allowfullscreen=””] Posted Thursday, February 22, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog CNN said it did not feed a Florida school shooting...
Teens at Lambert High launch non-profit to battle manic depression
Teens at Lambert High launch non-profit to battle manic depression
Some days she would come to school feeling happy. Other days it seemed she was drowning in helplessness. At first, her friends thought the girl was displaying typical teenage angst and they teased her about being so moody. “We blamed it on stress,” said Siri Gandreddi, 17, a junior at Lambert High School in Suwanee.Gandreddi and the girl...
More Stories