We’re right in the heart of the holiday season. There’s no better time for some holiday facts about Santa, the Christmas elves, snowmen, toys and more. Find out the history behind why we hang stockings over the fire, what Michelangelo has to do with one of our favorite outdoor winter activities, differences in opinion when it comes to Christmas marriage proposals, as well as a look into Christmas traditions from around the world…
The “Jolly Old Elf”
Clement Clark Moore, author of the famous poem we know as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” was one of the first authors to mention elves in the Christmas tradition. But the elf in his story isn’t who you’d expect. Moore describes Santa as the “jolly old elf.” This early depiction of Santa might be one of the major reasons why elves are such a big part of Christmas today. Find out more about the origins of Christmas elves here.
St. Nick’s Stockings
Christmas stockings are one of the oldest Christmas traditions, dating back to one of the most popular origin stories of Santa Claus almost 2,000 years ago. The story revolves around the Greek Bishop, Saint Nicholas. Even though the events in the story can’t be proven, it also offers insight into our tradition of gift giving during the holidays. Get the details and learn more about Santa hats, sweaters and more in this Lakeside article.
Crazy Christmas Calories
Santa Claus covers nearly 175 million miles in his worldwide Christmas Eve tour. He also has to consume over 260 million calories from cookies alone, and deliver over 20 million presents that would weigh around 700 million pounds. Santa also has to speak hundreds of languages to read all those notes and say “Merry Christmas” when necessary. Learn several of those Christmas greetings from around the globe right now.
The traditional Christmas celebration might revolve around the birth of Jesus, but fewer babies are born on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day compared to the rest of the calendar. Christmas Day is the least common birthday in America, second only to Leap Day. Christmas Eve isn’t very far behind, ranking fourth on the list. With Thanksgiving falling on different dates, it’s likely that it takes the top spot regarding holiday birthdays.
Year after year, the Christmas season beats out every other for the most marriage proposals. Christmas Eve is the most popular day to pop the question, but in a recent survey, men and women seemed to differ on the popularity of Christmas Eve proposals. Many women agreed on the holiday timing, but a bigger percentage thought Valentine’s Day or anniversaries were better. Get tips on holiday jewelry in this informative article.
The tradition of building snowmen during the holidays has been around for quite a long time. Just to get an idea of how old the tradition is, it’s known that the artist Michelangelo was once commissioned to sculpt one of his own design in the courtyard of a ruler in Florence, Italy. The year: 1494; when Michelangelo was 19.
Many of the best-selling and most influential toys of all time were dolls. The Barbie doll reinvented the trend in the late 50’s, the G.I. Joe changed the game by giving boys a doll of their own, and action figures climbed in popularity following the release of Star Wars in the 70’s. Dolls have been an important Christmas tradition for centuries, from nutcracker dolls in 17th century Germany to Russian nesting dolls in the 19th century. It’s such an important Christmas tradition in Portugal, that doll hospitals thrive during the holidays, restoring and repairing all kinds of dolls that are cherished and passed down in families from generation to generation.
Gift Wrap Beginnings
Wrapping gifts can be traced back to ancient traditions in Japan, Korea, and more famously to upper-class European customs. However, it was a couple of famous brothers running a stationery store in Kansas City who are responsible for wrapping paper as we know it today. After selling out of tissue paper during a busy holiday season, the brothers replaced it on short notice with fancier paper they had in stock that was meant for lining envelopes. This paper sold out as well, and in the following years, the brothers started producing decorative versions for Christmas gifts. The brothers were Joyce and Rollie Hall. Their store was Hallmark.
We Three Kings
St. Nicholas wasn’t the original Christmas gift-giver. Those familiar with the Christmas story know that The Wise Men started our favorite holiday tradition by bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. Although the Bible does not mention the names of the Wise Men (it doesn’t even specify that there were three), many cultures have names for the three men. Three of the most popular are Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. In Latin America, Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day) is traditionally celebrated on January 6th to honor the day the Three Wise Men gave gifts to Jesus. Traditionally, children put out their shoes the night before, waking up to gifts from the Three Kings. Similar to Christmas Eve, kids set out grass and water for camels instead of reindeer.
Holiday Travel Tips
According to this interesting infographic from Travel and Leisure, nearly 100 million Americans travel during the holiday season. Airfare is typically the lowest and least hectic on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day for the simple fact that many people aren’t looking to travel on these days. However, airfare usually spikes right after both of these days. And for future reference, if you’re one of the 6 million people who typically fly during the holiday season, booking your domestic flights two months in advance will typically get you the best deal.