Little Known Christmas Facts
At Old World Christmas we like to think we’re experts on all things Christmas. After all, we make the most beautiful, glass blown ornaments around, and though we love beautifully decorated Christmas trees, we firmly believe ornaments are meant for year-round celebrations. Once in a while we brush up on our Christmas knowledge, just to make sure we’re sharp, and we have 10 interesting Christmas facts you might not know.
1. Tinsel was made from real silver.
The much-loved and/or hated strands of tinsel that you’re still vacuuming up in June originally were way more costly. Invented in 1610 and made from genuine spun silver, tinsel wasn’t a cheap decoration. Though created in Germany, it spread to the US and at one point the US government banned tinsel due to it containing lead. These days, neither lead nor silver make up the common stringy tinsel which is now made from plastic.
2. Saying thanks with a tree.
Every year since 1947 Norway provides a tree to Trafalgar Square in London as a way of continued thanks for Britain’s World War II effort in support of Norway. This long-standing tradition continues to inspire good feelings and goodwill towards men across the pond.
3. Show me the money.
Americans are generous gift givers and according to 2017 National Retail Federation data, spend an average $1,000 on gifts. In 2018, total retail sales in November and December hit a staggering $717.45 billion. Gift giving is a strong tradition in the US, and of course we always think an ornament or two should be included!
4. Xmas isn’t as pagan as we thought.
It’s commonly thought that “Xmas” was an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas, but not so. As far back as the first century "Christianity" was spelled “Xianity”. In the Greek alphabet, “X”, or “Chi”, is the first letter of "Christ" and served as a symbolic stand-in. By 1551, the holiday was called "Xtemmas" but eventually shortened to “Xmas," so don’t fret, “Xmas” is just as Christian as the word Christmas.
5. Christmas mail overload.Just like Santa’s sleigh, the USPS is also weighed down between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day with packages and mail. The estimate last year was 910 million packages delivered and almost 15 billion pieces of mail. Sending love and well wishes never weighed so much! Included in that number was also the dreaded after Christmas credit card bill (delivered by the Grinch).
6. Spark joy not fires.A terrible statistic to keep you motivated to water your Christmas tree is dried-out Christmas trees spark about a hundred fires each year, causing an average of 10 deaths, and $15.7 million in property damage. A dried-out tree is the perfect kindling, so make sure your lights are in good working condition and open flames are not near the tree.
7. The danger of decorating.Many people (on average: 15,000 per year!) wind up in the ER during the Christmas season due to incidents involving Christmas decorations (think: putting up lights, roof decorations and stepping on broken ornaments). So maybe asking Santa for a neck brace and bandaids might be a good idea.
8. The Puritans made celebrating Christmas illegal.
True story. From 1659-1691 anyone caught dashing through the snow or decking the halls were slapped with a fine. Christmas wasn’t established as a federal holiday for nearly another century. The force of the Ginch was strong with the Puritans.
9. Christmas hijacked a carol.
The iconic “Jingle Bells” was originally written for Thanksgiving. Bobtail’s sleigh was headed to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving turkey, not the Christmas goose. In 1850, James Lord Pierpont composed "One Horse Open Sleigh" for his church's Thanksgiving concert. It was later republished under the same title, but Christmas swiped it from Thanksgiving.
10. Coke Shaped Santa's image:
Coca-Cola’s brilliant marketing department transformed Santa’s no-frills image from a boring, slightly spooky character into the jolly, lovable Santa we know him to be. Haddon Sundblom’s paintings cemented Santa for years to come, and Old World Christmas has a piece of this history. We love our Ginger Cottages Coca-Cola collection—it’s one part nostalgia and one part cuteness.
You’re caught up on Christmas’ most interesting facts. See, Christmas really is a year-long holiday. The holiday has a long, storied tradition with some bumps in the road, but it’s a wonderful holiday that has a spirit that lasts. For year round inspiration, don’t miss our collection of summer, travel and other holiday ornaments.