Hohoho! Merry Christmas, everyone! Some may take the celebration of Christmas more seriously than others, and some would just go along with the flow. Regardless, the season is here and everyone is taking this opportunity to have a breather from the helter skelter of life.
While we all enjoy the festivities of the holiday (unless you’re a Grinch), let’s take time to read about some facts about Christmas you may not know about.
It might interest you to know that Christmas, as Catholics observe it, started out as a pagan holiday. That’s right, most of the celebrations within the pagan event called Saturnalia have been adapted to the way we celebrate Christmas. Saturnalia is an ancient Roman Festival in honor of the agricultural deity, Saturn. The merry making, the gift-giving, and even the date when we celebrate Christmas (December) bear similarities to the Saturnalia festivities.
It was once illegal to Celebrate
Given the pagan origins of Christmas, it was once illegal to celebrate it. From 1659 to 1681, people were fined for celebrating Christmas. It also wasn’t recognized as a holiday until the 18th century that nations observed it as a holiday season. Until then, people worked well unto the end of the year. Be grateful we live in modern times.
Speaking of inauspicious beginnings, Santa Claus as we now know him, came from the mind of Washington Irving—the same guy who gave us the Headless Horseman on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon (where both Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow also appeared), Irving wrote about St. Nicholas riding in the sky in a weightless wagon.
Santa Claus himself first appeared in a green, white and blue outfit. His current red outfit became the standard after Coca-Cola came out with an ad showing St. Nick decked out in their company colors. Speaking of advertising gimmicks…
Rudolph and the Reindeers
Rudolph was conceived as a gimmick by a department store. Montgomery Ward came up with Rudolph to sell coloring books. He originally didn’t have a red nose. Montgomery Ward thought it would be funny to make him look like the reindeer was drunk. The rest of the reindeers were named after the poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, name-checked them.