You’ve surely heard your share of fun facts and tall tales over the years, but when’s the last time you learned something new about one of the world’s oldest holidays? Surprise your old friends or break the ice with some new ones by sharing fun facts about Christmas carols, Santa Claus, and Christmas traditions around the world.
Fun Facts About Christmas
Whether you’re looking for a good ice breaker or you’re just the curious type, you can’t beat fun facts. They’re funny, surprising, and you always learn something new. Let’s discuss some of our favorite fun facts about our favorite holiday . . .
You’ve heard the songs a thousand times, but how much do you know about them? These fun facts about Christmas carols are sure to ring your bell:
- Most Christmas carols are even older than you might think. “Hark the Herald Angel Sings” and “Joy to the World” are both from the 1700s, and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is an adaptation of a popular hymn from the ninth century. No wonder we call them classics!
- “Silent Night” was one of the songs that helped inspire a Christmas truce during World War One. On Christmas Eve in 1914, British soldiers were surprised to hear German soldiers singing Christmas carols, including “Silent Night.” They responded by singing the carols back in English. Eventually the troops emerged from their bunkers and agreed to a cease-fire for the holiday.
- “Jingle Bells” is the first song that was ever played in space! In 1965, astronauts orbiting the Earth claimed to see “a commander in a red suit, piloting a UFO” heading towards the North Pole. They then played the Christmas carol on a harmonica to celebrate the holiday. You can see the harmonica on display at the Smithsonian!
- Did you know the best-selling single of all time is a Christmas song? No, it’s not by the Beatles. It’s Bing Crosby’s original version of “White Christmas,” which has been sold over 100 million times since its release in 1942.
You can’t talk about Christmas without mentioning the big man himself! Explore some fun facts about Christmas’s number-one VIP:
- Believe it or not, Santa is based on a real person. In the year 270, a bishop in Turkey became known for giving anonymous gifts to poor children in his small town. When he died, he was granted sainthood as “St. Nicholas,” patron saint of children. Since then, we’ve remembered him by continuing to give gifts to children in his name.
- In order to deliver toys to all of the good kids in the world, Santa’s sleigh has to be fast. It’s been calculated that Santa’s sleigh has to move at more than 1280 miles per hour to make it across the world in one night. Time to step on it, Rudolph!
- Lots of families leave milk and cookies out for Santa, but that isn’t all they leave out. In Australia, parents pour a cold glass of beer for the big man. Kids in France even leave carrots out for the reindeer.
- Why does Santa live on the North Pole? It isn’t because he loves the snow! Reindeer thrive in cold weather, and can even be comfortable in temperatures of -88 degrees. Early popular imaginings of Santa Claus placed him at the North Pole for this reason, and that remains his hometown today.
Christmas Around the World
Many countries celebrate the yuletide in their own unique way. Check out some fun facts about Christmas around the world:
- When you think about a traditional Christmas dinner, you probably aren’t thinking about fast food. However, if you live in Japan, Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner is all the rage! This tradition began in 1974, and is still so popular today that Japanese families wait up to two hours outside the restaurant on Christmas Day to get their holiday meals.
- Why restrict Christmas to just one day? In Iceland, they celebrate 13 days of Christmas, and children are visited by the 13 Yule Lads instead of Santa. Good kids still get gifts, but naughty kids wake up to find their shoes filled with rotten potatoes!
- On Christmas Eve in Norway, superstitious people hide their brooms away while getting ready for St. Nick. This is because of legends about witches and evil spirits coming out on Christmas Eve to find brooms to ride.
- Since New Zealand has its summer in December, Kiwis usually aren’t dreaming of a White Christmas. Christmas traditions in New Zealand include barbequing and a trip to the beach to visit a pohutukawka tree. These trees, with their distinctive red blooms, are a popular Christmas symbol for Kiwis at home and abroad.
We hope we’ve proved you can always learn something new about Christmas. No matter how you’re celebrating the holidays this year, we hope these fun facts gave you something to feel jolly about!
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