Things Yule Never Know About Christmas

AFTER queuing up to get your turkey, you arrive home only to find the cat has swallowed most of the tinsel and you completely forgot to buy any tangerines.

But have you ever stopped to wonder how these traditions started – why we kiss under the mistletoe, or give each other stockings full of goodies?

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Here are 24 festive facts to get you even more in the mood for Christmas…

1. Speedy Santa

US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.

2. Robins

ROBINS on cards were a joke 150 years ago when postmen wore red tunics and were named after them.

3. Mince Pies

ALTHOUGH now mostly vegetarian, in Victorian times, mince pies were made with beef and spices.

4. Tangerines

THE tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

5. Three Wise Men?

DESPITE the tale of three wise men paying homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never gives a number. Matthew’s Gospel refers to merely “wise men”.

6. Wassailing

CAROLS began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbours to a long life.

7. Carols

CAROLS weren’t sung in churches until they were introduced by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.

8. Stockings

HANGING stockings out comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas’s donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.

9. Angels Singing?

THERE is no reference to angels singing anywhere in the Bible.

10. Christmas Trees

NEARLY 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.

11. Noel

THE word Noel derives from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” or “the good news”.

12. Baby Jesus

JESUS was probably born in a cave and not a wooden stable, say Biblical scholars.

13. Xmas

THE abbreviation Xmas isn’t irreligious. The letter X is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.

14. Tallest Tree

THE world’s tallest Xmas tree at 221ft high was erected in a Washington shopping mall in 1950.

15. White Christmas

THE chances of a white Christmas are just 1 in 10 for England and Wales, and 1 in 6 for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

16. The Birth of Jesus

MANY theologians estimate that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 but sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD.

17. Jingle Bells

JAMES Pierpont’s 1857 song Jingle Bells was first called One Horse Open Sleigh and was written for Thanksgiving.

18. Turkey

BEFORE turkey, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig’s head and mustard.

19. Banning Christmas

IN 1647, after the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell banned festivities. The law wasn’t lifted until 1660.

20. World’s Biggest Snowman

In 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world’s biggest ever snowman. He stood at 113ft tall.

21. A Merry Greek Christmas

THE Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Xmas presents are opened on New Year’s Day.

22. Eating a Christmas Tree

MANY parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten, with the needles being a good source of Vitamin C.

23. Holly

THE holly in a wreath symbolises Christ’s crown of thorns while the red berries are drops of his blood.

24. Christmas Cards

THE first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by civil servant Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843. Featuring a family drinking wine, one sold for #8,469 last year.