Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Trivia

 

The first mass produced Christmas card, 1843.  10 survive today of the 1,000 printed.  The card was hand coloured in that it predated colour printing and depicts a family toasting Christmas, flanked by scenes of the poor being fed and clothed..  Created for Henry Cole  for personal use, he sold the extra cards for one shilling each.  The card caused a controversy in some quarters for showing a child being given wine to drink.


The term Christmas is from “Christ’s Mass”, first used in 1038.  The use of the letter X in Xmas is from the Greek letter chi, the first letter in the word Christ.


After Britain converted to Christianity in the 7th century, Christmas was referred to as geol, the name of the pre-Christmas winter festival, hence the word Yule.



The Christmas tradition has taken gift-giving and merry-making from the Roman Saturnalia and greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year.



The Christmas tree was popularised in England by Queen Victoria, whose German husband Prince Albert introduced it to the Royal Christmas celebrations.


Santa Claus originated from Saint Nicholas, a real person. During the 4th century AD he used to help the poor and children by throwing gifts through their windows.



Early Christians decorated homes & churches with holly.  The pointed green leaves represented the crown of thorns and the red berries the drops of blood at Jesus' crucifixion.


When the phrase Merry Christmas was coined, “merry” meant blessed and peaceful, so that a person  would wish another a “Blessed and Peaceful Christmas”.


Wassail" comes from the Old Norse "ves heill"-- to be of good health. This evolved into the tradition of visiting neighbours on Christmas Eve and drinking their health.


Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas Carols in England between 1649 and 1660. He felt that it should be celebrated only by a sermon and a prayer service.





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