T’is the season, as they say, and we’re ready to start having a bit of Christmas fun! Most of feel like we’re experts on this most amazing of holidays but how much do you really know about our beloved Christmas traditions and characters? What follows are ten bits of Christmas trivia gleaned from a post by The Fact File. How many of them did you know about? Keep one or two in mind and you’ll always have something to talk about at that work holiday party you’ve got coming up. You’re welcome!
1. Clement Moore’s poem introduced eight more reindeer for Santa’s sleigh and their names were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Duner and Blixem (for the German words for thunder and lightning). These later evolved into Donner and Blitzen.
2. The image of Santa Claus flying his sleigh began in 1819 and was created by Washington Irving, the same author who dreamed up the Headless Horseman.
3. NORAD’s “Santa Tracker” was born from a misprint in the newspaper. A 1955 Sears ad was supposed to print the number of a store where children could call and tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. The number printed was to the hotline of the Director of Operations for the U.S. Continental Air Defense. Colonel Shoup ordered his staff to give the children updates on the flight coordinates of Santa.
4. Since 1918 the city of Boston has received a giant Christmas tree as a gift from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Boston lent considerable support to the city of Halifax during their 1917 explosion and subsequent fire disaster.
5. The Montgomery Ward department store created Rudolph the Reindeer as a marketing gimmick to encourage children to buy their Christmas coloring books.
6. Some leave food out for Santa Claus’ reindeer as Norse children did, leaving hay and treats for Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir hoping they would stop by during their hunting adventures. Dutch children adopted this same tradition, leaving food in their wooden shoes for St. Nicholas’ horse.
7. Dutch children also left out food and drink for St. Nicholas himself to honor him on his feast day. Today we leave milk and cookies out for Santa, continuing this very old tradition.
9. Bicycle, the U.S. playing card company, manufactured cards to give all the POWS in Germany during World War II as Christmas presents. These cards, when soaked in water, revealed an escape route for POWs. The Nazis never knew.
10. In Poland spiders are considered to be symbols of prosperity and goodness at Christmas. In fact, spiders and spider webs are often used as Christmas tree decorations. According to legend, a spider wove baby Jesus a blanket to keep him warm. In Ukraine, a legend tells of a lonely widow who went to bed on Christmas Eve with a bare Christmas tree and awoke on Christmas morning to find a spider had adorned it with glittering spider web decorations.