As Escape Room Enthusiasts, we should always keep our eyes open for the unexpected
It comes every year, on December the 25th, on the dot.
Many think of it as the most wonderful time of the year.
I know what you’re thinking.
‘Everybody knows all this. Tell me something about Christmas that I don’t know.’
Here are the 8 facts about Christmas you would never have guessed.
Jingle Bells was originally meant to celebrate Thanksgiving
The song so associated with Christmas - Jingle Bells - was originally written by a New England songwriter called James Lord Pierpont in Medford, Massachusetts for Thanksgiving.
He didn’t even call his song ‘Jingle Bells’. It was copyrighted under the title ‘One Horse Open Sleigh’, presumably in connection with the sleigh races that were popular in Medford at that time.
It didn’t become a Christmas staple until decades later.
Incidentally, James Lord Pierpont was the uncle of a certain John Pierpont Morgan (who established a bank you may have heard of).
Christmas is supposed to represent the birth of Jesus Christ, right?
Strangely enough, nobody thinks that Jesus Christ was born in December...or even during winter.
Most experts agree that Jesus Christ was born in the spring.
Then where did December 25th come from?
It seems church officials selected December 25th in the third century because that overlapped with 2 then-prominent religious occasions - Saturnalia and Mithra.
Symbolic - Saturnalia in particular was associated with celebrations and gifting.
Diplomatic - It was believed that making the Christian holiday coincide with the pagan holidays would convince pagans to accept Christianity.
Whither Santa Claus?
‘Santa Claus’ or ‘Father Christmas’ is based on St. Nicholas, a fourth century bishop who gave away his inheritance to the poor and the destitute.
‘St. Nicholas’ became ‘Sinterklaas’ in Dutch; you can guess the rest.
Incidentally, some countries have a separate Christmas holiday called St. Nicholas (which falls on December 6th every year) when they exchange gifts.
Where did Christmas stockings come from?
The most popular theory goes back to when St. Nicholas was going around, helping people in need.
The story goes that there was a man with three daughters who were to be married. The man was poor and couldn’t afford any dowry. He was worried over what would happen.
When he heard this story, St. Nicholas secretly entered their house with the intention of giving the man some gold for each of his three daughters.
The girls’ stockings happened to be hanging by the fireplace for drying at that time; and it was in them that St. Nicholas left the gold.
Why did St. Nicholas enter the house secretly?
He did not crave the fame of being kind to others; he always sought anonymity.
He knew it would be embarrassing for the father to accept charity for his daughters’ dowry.
Santa Claus made for a delightful exchange of letters during the Cold War
In 1961, at the height of the Cold War, eight-year-old Michelle Roncon Phillips of Marine City, Michigan, was alarmed on hearing that the Russians were testing nuclear weapons at the North Pole.
Being concerned about how Father Christmas would survive, she wrote a letter to President Kennedy.
It read “Dear Mr. Kennedy, Please stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole because they will kill Santa Claus. I am 8 years old. I am in the third grade at Holy Cross School. Yours truly, Michelle Rochon.”
A couple of weeks later, she received a letter written on White House stationery.
President Kennedy had written back to her, about how he shared her concern about what the Russians were up to and ending by saying “However, you must not worry about Santa Claus. I talked with him yesterday and he is fine. He will be making his rounds again this Christmas.”
Oh, for the romance of the mistletoe…
We all yearn for that special moment when we find ourselves facing our significant other under the mistletoe, don’t we?
Well, as it turns out, mistletoe seeds are spread by birds like the Mistle Thrush, through their droppings.
Hope that didn’t ruin your Special Mistletoe Moment for this year.
Take that for a fact about Christmas you never would have guessed!
You almost never heard of Mommy kissing Santa Claus
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is now a Christmas staple.
But did you know you almost would never have heard of it?
The song was originally recorded by 13 year old Jimmy Boyd as a perfectly innocent song about his mom kissing Santa Claus (his own father in a Santa suit).
However, many people took it as encouraging physical intimacy at Christmas with the result that many church leaders condemned it and a lot of radio stations refused to play it.
13 year old Jimmy Boyd went to meet church officials and explained what his song meant; after that, they withdrew their objections.
Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men…
The huge Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London makes its way there from...drumroll…the forests surrounding Oslo in Norway.
It’s been a tradition since 1947 and is a sign of Norwegian gratitude for British support during the Second World War.
Now you know the 8 facts about Christmas that you never would have guessed!
Great topics to spark conversations with, huh?
I would sign off with ‘Merry Christmas’, but it’s still November...so, Merry Christmas anyway!