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Some Christmas Facts

1)  The word 'mistletoe' means 'dung on a twig' in Anglo-Saxon
Apparently the ancient belief was that mistletoe grew in trees where birds had left droppings.  So the origin of the name which comes from the Anglo-Saxon word 'mistel'  (meaning dung)  and 'tan'  (meaning twig).

2)  It was illegal to celebrate Christmas in puritan New England.
The Puritans were sticklers for taking the Bible, and nothing else, as their guide for how to live a good, Christian life.  And since the Bible never indicates exactly when the anniversary of the Nativity should be observed, they reasoned that God must not have intended for it to be observed at all.  Otherwise a date would have been provided.  So they banned its celebration.  Between 1659 and 1681 it was actually a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of five shillings, to celebrate Christmas in Massachusetts.

3)  The modern image of a fat, red-suited Santa Claus was invented by the Coca-Cola Company.
A common Myth.  In 1931 Coca-Cola commissioned the artist Haddon Sundblom to create images of Santa Claus drinking from a bottle of Coke.  Sundblom's depictions of Santa became very, very popular, but it's not accurate to say that Sundblom actually invented the modern image of Santa.  By the early twentieth century Santa was already commonly being depicted as a fat, jolly, red-suited, long-bearded old man.  For instance, a greeting card drawn by Louis Prang in 1885 shows a Santa essentially identical to the one we know today.  But the claim that Coca-Cola invented the modern Santa Claus has by now become very widely disseminated, and is even repeated as fact by Coca-Cola itself, although you'd think Coca-Cola would know better.

4)  The bones of the original Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) are preserved in a church in Italy.
St. Nicholas was a fourth-century bishop who lived in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).  Upon his death his bones were preserved in the town of Myra, but in 1087 these bones were stolen and moved to the town of Bari in Italy.  They remain there to this day, located in the church of San Nicola.  It is said that his bones exude a sweet-smelling oily substance which is prized for its healing powers.  In the United States and some parts of Europe St. Nicholas has come to be associated with Santa Claus.  He was also the patron saint of children, thieves and pawnbrokers.

5)  Jesus Christ was born on December 25. The Bible, which can be taken as the only authoritative source on the matter, contains no indication of exactly which day of the year the birth of Jesus occurred.  But it does contain evidence that the birth could not have occurred in December.  The Gospel of Luke notes that shepherds were tending their flocks in the field at night when an angel appeared to them announcing the birth of Christ, but shepherds would not have been outside with their flocks at night in the middle of winter.  December 25 was only chosen as the date to celebrate Christmas in the fourth century because this date corresponded to existing pagan celebrations, a fact which the Puritans (who objected to the celebration of Christmas) often pointed out.

6)  NORAD  (North American Aerospace Defense Command)  tracks Santa and his sleigh every year on radar.
True,they've been doing it for the past 40 years.

7)  The Bible tells us that three wise men visited the infant jesus as he lay asleep in a manger.
Afraid NOT.  The Book of Matthew states that wise men came from the east to Jerusalem bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Christ child, but it never specifies how many wise men.  Nor does it specify that they visited Jesus while he lay sleeping in a manger.

8)  Christmas only became a legal holiday in England and America late in the nineteenth century.  Before then people were expected to go to work on Christmas Day.
19th-century factory owners didn't like having to give their employees a day off work, so they long lobbied against having to treat Christmas as anything but a regular working day.  But apparently some kindly factory owners would generously let their workers start work at 5 am on Christmas day, thus allowing them to get off work early and go to church.

9)  The Canadian Post Office has given Santa Claus his own official postal code at the North Pole.
Yes, Santa's address, according to the Canadian post office is: Santa Claus, North Pole, HOH OHO, CANADA.  So he has his own postal code  (HO HO HO).  The post office even promises that you can write to Santa there and he'll reply.

10) Christmas in Scotland After the Church Reformation in the 16th century, the celebration of Christmas was frowned on by the Kirk, which regarded it as a "Popish festival".  Mass was banned in Scotland at that time, and "Christmas" or "Christ's Mass" was included in that.  There are records of charges being brought against people for keeping "Yule", as it was called in Scotland.  Amazingly, this dour, joy-crushing attitude lasted for 400 years.  While most of the United kingdom accepted the Ban, The Scots simply move the celebrations forward one week.  Hence the Populatity of New year celebrations in Scotland.
Up until the 1960s, Christmas Day was a normal working day for most people in Scotland.  So if there is a specifically "Scottish" aspect to Christmas, it is that it was not celebrated.

11) It is illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas day. Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas pudding, mince pies and anything to do with gluttony.  That law has never been rescinded so mince pies are illegal.

12) Walk to Church on Christmas day.
According to the Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551, which has not yet been repealed, everyone must attend church on Christmas Day, and on foot.

So to sum up ... You must go to Church on Christmas day ... and you must Walk to church. I suppose the exercise will help you to lose the extra pounds you put on eating those illegal mince Pies :)

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