Christmas is an ancient celebration with centuries of tradition. Many of the things that make up the Christmas holiday as we know it have some surprising origins.
- Christmas wasn’t always on Dec. 25 – Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but, Dec. 25, the date that is celebrated as his birthday, is not mentioned in the biblical accounts. Many historians believed Jesus was actually born in the spring. It is believed the Dec. 25 date was chosen to coincide with the Pagan festival of Saturnalia, name after the agricultural god, Saturn. The festival involved partying and gift-giving.
- Thank Prince Albert for the Christmas tree – The Christmas tree originated from the Saturnalia festival, where evergreen branches served as a reminder f spring during the winter solstice. The Germans are credited with being the first to bring evergreen trees into their homes and decorating them. This tradition came to the United States in the 1930s. It really took off around the world when Germany’s Prince Albert and his wife, Queen Victoria of England, were featured in a sketch standing in front of a Christmas tree in 1848.
- Santa’s red suit – Folklore has it that Santa’s red suit was the result of a Coca Cola advertising campaign. Although Santa did appear in suits of various colors over the centuries including green, white, blue and, yes, red, the red suit became his staple after a 1931 Coca Cola ad. Illustrator Haddon Sundblom painted Santa in a red suit for the soft drink company’s Christmas promotion. Santa has since been seen wearing a red suit.
- Reginald the blued-nosed reindeer? – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was the brainchild of Robert May for Montgomery Ward’s Christmas coloring book. May originally was going to name the reindeer Reginald or Rollo. At first, the red nose made Montgomery Ward nervous since a red nose is associated with an alcoholic. But, it all came together as the classic we know today.
- Christmastime injuries – At least 15,000 people visit the hospital as a result of holiday-related injuries. Here are a few safety tips to keep your Christmas merry:
- Check the condition of holiday lights for frayed or broken wires and make sure they are UL, CSA or ELT certified
- Do not overload electrical outlets or run wires under rugs
- Always turn off holiday lights when leaving your home
- Do not connect more than one extension cord together
- Check your smoke and CO detectors and make sure they are installed on every level of your home
Have a happy holiday and keep it safe!