Is it that time of year again already??!
As the festive season draws ever closer, we’d like to wish all our clients, suppliers and friends a very
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
As our little gift to you, we’ve updated our previous list and gathered together 80 of our favourite fun facts about Christmas for you to impress your friends and family over the Brussel Sprouts…
Christmas traditions and origins
1. Christmas is a contraction of “Christ’s Mass,” which is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which in turn comes from the Old English Cristesmæsse, a phrase first recorded waa-aay back in 1038.
2. Hanging stockings out comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas’s donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
3. The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.
4. Boxing Day gets its name from all the money collected in church alms-boxes for the poor.
5. The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by civil servant Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843. Featuring a family drinking wine, one sold for £8,469 in 2014.
6. Robins on cards started as a joke 150 years ago when postmen wore red tunics and were named after them.
7. The christmas cracker was invented by a London sweet shop owner called Tom Smith. In 1847, after spotting French bonbons wrapped in paper with a twist at each end, he sold similar sweets with a “love motto” inside. He then included a little trinket and a “bang”. His “Bangs of Expectation” included gifts such as jewellery and miniature dolls. By 1900, he was selling 13 million a year.
8. According to tradition, you should eat one mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas to bring good luck.
9. It’s technically illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day in England. In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas pudding, mince pies and anything to do with gluttony. The law has never been rescinded.
10. Why red, gold and green? Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
11. Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings.
12. Santa hasn’t always dressed in red. Pre 1930s there were many different variations of Santa, sporting a variety of different coloured garments and ranging in size from big to small. Some people claim the modern day image of Santa Claus was created by Coca-Cola, but this isn’t strictly true. The original red-suited Santa became popular in the US and Canada in the 19th century due to the influence of caricaturist and cartoonist Thomas Nast. Coca-Cola commissioned their depiction of Santa in 1931.
13. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was invented for a US firm’s Christmas promotion in 1938.
14. The Yule Log was originally an entire tree that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony and burned over the 12 days of Christmas. A Chocolate Yule Log or ‘bûche de Noël’ is now a popular Christmas desert, made of a chocolate sponge roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate or chocolate icing and decorated to look like a bark-covered log.
15. Traditionally, families gather together in the kitchen of their homes to mix and steam Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent. Everyone takes a turn to stir the pudding mix and make a special wish for the year ahead.
16. Holly and Ivy have been used to decorate homes since the 9th century because they symbolise everlasting life. The holly represents Christ’s crown of thorns and the berries his blood.
Christmas facts in numbers
17. US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.
18. The chances of a White Christmas are just 1 in 10 for England and Wales, and 1 in 6 for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
19. 16 – The average number of Christmas presents a UK child receives.
20. 6 million – The number of rolls of sellotape that will be sold in the UK in the run up to Christmas (5.95 million – the number where you can’t find where the tape ends).
21. 13% of families in the UK always attend church on Christmas Day.
22. 27% of families sit down to watch the Queen’s Speech.
23. According to Matalan, 82% of people surveyed own a Christmas jumper, with 25-34 year olds the most likely to buy one. Over 75% of people buy their festive jumper to wear for a work event, whilst over half wear one on Christmas Day.
24. 6.8 million – The number of iOS and Android devices that will be activated on Christmas day.
25. 4.25 million – The number of British people who will travel abroad for Christmas.
Myth-busting Christmas facts
26. The abbreviation Xmas isn’t irreligious. The letter X is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.
27. For a christmas to be officially classified as “white” a single snow flake needs to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25th December on the rooftop of the Met Office HQ in London.
28. During the 20th century there were only seven official white Christmases in the United Kingdom. The chances of a White Christmas in London this year? 6%.
29. Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous line “Bah Humbug” almost never existed. Charles Dickens’ initial choice was “Bah Christmas.” Glad he changed it…
30. According to data gathered from Facebook, two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up; one would guess to avoid buying presents. Christmas Day is the least popular.
31. On Christmas Eve in 2001, the Bethlehem Hotel had 208 of its 210 rooms free.
Christmas tree facts
32. Nearly 60 million Christmas Trees are grown each year in Europe.
33. 8 million natural Christmas trees are consumed by the UK each year.
34. In the UK, natural Christmas trees outsell artificial Christmas trees by a ratio of 3:1.
35. Many parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten, with the needles being a good source of Vitamin C.
36. Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they’re sold.
37. On average, three Christmas trees are planted to replace each one harvested.
Facts about Christmas Songs
38. The bestselling Christmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, shifting over 50 million copies worldwide since 1942.
39. In Britain, the best-selling festive single is Band Aid’s 1984 track, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which sold 3.5million copies. Wham! is next in the same year with Last Christmas, selling 1.4million.
40. The Beatles hold the record for most Christmas number 1 singles, topping the charts in 1963, 64, 65 and 67. Cliff Richard (1960, 1988 and 1990) and The Spice Girls (1996, 1997 and 1998) have three each. – Source
42. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is the only record to get the UK Christmas Singles Chart Number One twice, once in 1975 and again in 1991. “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was number 1 three times (1984, 1989 and 2004), but technically it was by different groups, so doesn’t count.
43. Irving Berlin hated Elvis Presley’s version of “White Christmas” so much that he tried to prevent radio stations from playing Presley’s cover.
44. Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song” (more commonly known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) was written during a summer heatwave in 1944.
45. The first song ever broadcast was a Christmas Carol. On Christmas Eve, 1906, the Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden (1866-1932) played “O Holy Night” on the violin and sang the final verse while broadcasting from his Brant Rock radio tower in Massachusetts.
Facts about Christmas films
47. It’s A Wonderful Life was mentioned in an FBI file in 1947, when an analyst expressed concern that the film was an obvious attempt to discredit bankers, a “common trick used by communists.”
48. In Home Alone, the ugly photo of Buzz’s girlfriend is actually a boy because director Chris Columbus thought it would be too cruel to make fun of a real girl. The boy used in the picture is the art director’s son.
49. In The Grinch, the prosthetics and makeup Jim Carrey wore took three hours every day to put together. They were so miserable to apply and wear that Carrey consulted a Navy SEAL who taught him torture-resistance techniques.
Christmas facts about the amount of money spent
50. Brits love Christmas – UK Christmas spending is set to hit £77.56bn in 2016, up by 1.9% on the previous year and almost double the European average.
51. The average home will splash out £809.97 at Christmas; on food and drink, travel, decorations and presents, with the latter accounting for 58.5 per cent of the budget.
52. £700 million – The amount of money spent on unwanted Christmas gifts.
53. £51,000,000 – The amount saved each year through the use of discount voucher codes.
54. £18,000,000,000 – will be withdrawn from UK cash machines over Christmas.
55. £330 – The average amount a UK adult spends buying Christmas presents.
56. During the Christmas period, nearly 28 Lego sets are sold EVERY SECOND. – Source
Christmas facts – World Records
57. 32.56 metres – The length of the longest ever Christmas Stocking. It was also 14.97 metres wide.
58. 62,824 – The record number of Christmas cards sent by a single person in a year. At the time of writing, that would cost £40,207.36 in first class stamps.
59. According to the Guinness world records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.
60. In 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world’s biggest ever snowman. He stood at 113ft tall.
61. The largest ever Christmas cracker was 63.1m (207ft) long and 4m (13ft) in diameter and was made by the parents of children at Ley Hill School and Pre-School, Chesham, Buckinghamshire on 20th December 2001. The joke was rubbish.
62. 30,000 – The number of participants in the largest ever Secret Santa, organised by Reddit in 2012.
63. The most valuable Christmas card was sold at an auction in the UK in 2001 for £20,000.
64. The most expensively dressed Christmas tree was valued at just under £7,000,000 and was erected and displayed by the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, UAE, from 16 to 29 December 2010.
65. The most lights lit simultaneously on a Christmas tree is 194,672 and was achieved by Kiwanis Malmedy and Haute Fagnes in Malmedy, Belgium, on 10 December 2010.
Christmas facts from around the world
66. Santa Claus has different names around the world – Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.
67. Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner, thanks to a successful marketing campaign 40 years ago. KFC is so popular that customers must place their Christmas orders 2 months in advance. – Source
68. During the Christmas of 2010, the Colombian government covered jungle trees with lights. When FARC guerrillas (terrorists) walked by, the trees lit up and banners asking them to lay down their arms became visible. 331 guerrillas re-entered society and the campaign won an award for strategic marketing excellence. – Source
69. There is a village in Peru where people settle the previous year’s grudges by fist fighting. They then start the new year off on a clean slate.
70. A large part of Sweden’s population watches Donald Duck cartoons every Christmas Eve – a tradition that started in 1960.
Christmas facts – Food and Drink
71. According to research carried out by Jarlsberg cheese (of all things), the strain of cooking the big Christmas dinner sees the average Brit start to sip their first alcoholic drink at 11.48am.
72. A survey has revealed on average, British women do not attempt their first Christmas lunch until the age of 34. Nearly half of women polled said they felt a real sense of achievement when finally dishing up the Christmas dinner and 28% of British men admit that their partner’s dinner is better than their mother’s. Source: Food Network
73. 57 – The number of Olympic sized swimming pools that could be filled with the beer consumed in the UK over Xmas.
74. 230,000 tonnes – The amount of wasted Christmas food that is thrown away each year.
75. 957 – The typical number of calories in your average Christmas dinner.
76. The average Brit consumes around 7,000 calories on Christmas day, and you’ll reach your recommended daily allowance at about 2pm.
77. £48,000,000 – The total amount spent on Christmas puddings by the UK.
78. Christmas pudding was originally a soup made with raisins and wine.
79. In Victorian times, in a reversal of modern UK tradition, turkey was seen as an expensive meat to eat on Christmas day, and goose was often eaten by poorer families. In A Christmas Carol, Bob Cratchitt was planning to have goose before Ebenezer Scrooge surprised him with the prize turkey.
80. 10 million – The number of Turkeys cooked in the UK every Christmas.
Merry Christmas everbody!