As we count down the days to Christmas 2020, here are five fun facts about the holiday you probably did not know:
- The Christmas tree made its way from Europe to America in the 1830s, but the tradition wasn’t popular until 1846 after Germany’s Prince Albert brought it with him to England when he married Queen Victoria. The two monarchs were sketched in front of a Christmas tree and the tradition instantly became popular. Royal fever was a thing even back then!
- The tradition of gift-giving at Christmas is believed to symbolize the gifts given to baby Jesus by the three wise men. But it may also have roots way back in Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December and a period of general merrymaking, when revelers were required to offer up gifts to the gods.
- The Christmas stocking tradition comes from the story about a poor man with three daughters who couldn’t afford the dowry to see them married. One night, St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the man’s chimney so that his oldest daughter could be married—the bag fell into a stocking that had been left to dry by the fire!
- Although Santa Claus initially wore a suit of blue, white and green, his now traditional red suit came from a 1930s ad by Coca Cola. The image of flying in a sleigh was started in 1819, dreamt up by Washington Irving, the same author who created the Headless Horseman.
- Written by an Austrian priest, “Silent Night” is the most-recorded Christmas song in history. Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is the best-selling song of all time. Meanwhile, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” has a bittersweet backstory: songwriter James Gillespie was broke, jobless and had just lost a brother when he was asked to write a Christmas song. He took inspiration from childhood Christmas memories with his brother to write the cheerful ditty.