With Christmas just over two weeks away, now is an ideal time to get young children involved in Christmas creative craft activities. Now is a…
10 fun and interesting facts about Christmas for children
Get yourself and the children feeling festive with our top 10 Christmas facts.
The decorations are up, the mince pies are out and the Christmas jumpers are on as we count down to Christmas. We’ve scoured the internet for the best Christmas facts – sure to get you and the children in the festive spirit!
So don’t be a grinch, have a read of these…
1. Santa’s reindeer are most likely female
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph. These names are sure to ring a bell! As most people know, these iconic names belong to Santa’s dedicated reindeer. At first thought, most people probably assume they are a mix of male and female reindeer, but Science says otherwise…
It’s all about the antlers! Male reindeer shed their antlers in early December when mating season ends, which, incidentally, is the month Christmas occurs. The females on the other hand, keep theirs throughout December. Making it most likely that Santa’s reindeer are female! Who would have thought that it is strong, independent female reindeer powering Santa’s Christmas delivery! With that being said, Rosie the Red Nose Reindeer has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
2. Eating mince pies is lucky
Suddenly feeling lucky? Well, it could be all the mince pies you’re eating! Once a medieval treat but now a Christmas must-have, mince pies are considered an essential accompaniment/staple in many households and part of British Christmas traditions.
Mince pies have a long history and are thought to have originated in the early middle ages. Back then, the pies were often oval or rectangular and quite sizeable to satisfy and feed a large crowd. They were also savoury, filled with a mixture of meat, spices, fruits, alcohol and preservatives. Today’s mince pies while sharing a few similarities with older versions, have had a bit of a makeover. Now they are sweet in taste, round and commonly smaller in size. Clearly much has changed but some customs transcend through time.
Traditionally, it is said that if you eat a mince pie every day during the Twelve Days of Christmas, it will bring you good luck for the year ahead. We agree wholeheartedly with this tradition because after all, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies!
3. Christmas trees are in their primary years!
Once a humble, fragrant evergreen that provided a sense of joy during long dark winter days, fir, pine and spruce trees, or as you know them, Christmas trees, became one of the many symbols of Christmas and are now widely associated with the celebration around the world.
Every year in December (sometimes even earlier for the eager folks amongst us!) families, households and individuals around the world come together to decorate their trees with twinkly decorations, lights and tinsel. This tradition dates back to 16th century Germany when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. This custom soon spread like wildfire across Germany, England, other European countries, North America and beyond.
The demand for Christmas trees is far from lagging. Did you know over 85 million Christmas trees are planted worldwide each year? That’s a lot of trees… And plenty of oxygen too.
Just like Children, Christmas trees grow reasonably fast. They don’t quite reach 12 feet overnight, but before you know it they’re all grown up and ready to go out into the world. During their primary years, they are carefully nurtured, fertilised, shaped and pruned. This is done many times a year to keep them healthy and beautifully shaped. The average 6/7ft tree can take between 10 to 12 years to grow before they are sold. And for every tree that is cut down, it is immediately replaced by another seedling with up to 10 trees being planted.
4. Xmas or Christmas?
From holiday ads to Christmas cards, we see the word Xmas written nearly everywhere. Some people argue that the shortening of Christmas to Xmas is an attempt to erase Christ or other religious aspects from Christmas celebrations.
Contrary to these claims, it turns out that is far from the truth. Like many words in the English language, Xmas has its origins in Greek. For those that know their Greek history, they will know that in the Greek alphabet, ‘X’ symbolises the Greek letter chi, the initial letter in the word Χριστός (Chrīstos), which is the Greek word for Christ.
While some controversy exists around the term, ‘Xmas’ isn’t a modern or anti-religious term but comes from the abbreviated form of ‘Christ’ in Greek, ‘X’.
5. Santa Claus or Kris Kringle?
Santa has a long history steeped in Christmas traditions, and his story and origins stretch back to the 3rd century when Saint Nicholas became a Patron Saint of Children.
One could argue he is the most universally recognised figure in the world. In modern times he is often depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man. He wears a red robe, trousers and hat with white fur and black leather boots and goes around the globe with a sack full of toys delivering gifts to children. A timeless and unforgettable Christmas icon, he is the gift that keeps on giving, quite literally!
Santa Claus is the embodiment of Christmas. His name alone will arouse wonderful childhood memories. He’s got a different name in practically every country he visits, and each has its unique version or interpretation of Santa Claus. As you can imagine depending on where you are in the world, the origins, story and traditions will vary. In the UK, Santa Claus is also referred to as Father Christmas. While ‘Kris Kringle’, a name popularised by the lead character in the film a Miracle on the 34th Street, is well-known in the US. Kris Kringle name derives from the German word Christkindl, meaning Christ-child. Christkindl is the gift-bringer in Germany and Austria. Santa Claus goes by the name Père Noël (France), Sinterklaas (Netherlands) and La Befana/Babbo Natale (Italy). As well as Ded Moroz (Russia) and Julenissen (Norway), to name a few. Don’t they all sound magical?
6. The First Christmas
Traditionally, the 25th of December is the date billions of people around the world come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a special day celebrated by Christian’s and non-Christian’s alike. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive down the chimney!
The origins of Christmas stretch back thousands of years to prehistoric celebrations around the midwinter solstice on the 21st of December. It is thought that Christmas was first celebrated in England way back in 521AD. Christmas Day officially became a bank holiday in 1834.
7. Happy Cristes Maesse!
If you received a card that said ‘Happy Cristes Maesse’, not only might you look at it in confusion, at first glance, you might stutter a little trying to read it out loud! But if you were to take a second look and read it slower, you might discover that it sounds just like the word Christmas. Well, there would certainly be a reason for that! Deriving from Old English, Cristes Maesse quite literally means “Christ’s Mass”, or the Mass of Christ. The first usage of which (in 1038) described the mass held to commemorate Christ’s birth.
8. How many wise men?
3 wise men came from the Eastern Kingdom, riding upon their camels to see the baby King… But was there only 3 wise men? To this day, nobody quite knows the answer! According to catholic tradition, many Christmas carols sung, and stories retold every Christmas, 3 wise followed a star to find baby Jesus and gifted him with Frankincense, gold, and myrrh.
In the book of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, Matthew says in his account that “wise men from the east came to Jerusalem”. There is no mention of how many wise men there were, let alone their names.
9. Christmas is cancelled!
The word no child or adult for that matter wants to hear. Ever. But for the unlucky folk in the UK a long, long, time ago, (we’re talking the 17th century here), this unfortunate occurrence came to fruition. As if living in the 17th century wasn’t hard enough! In June 1647, the English Parliament passed a law that abolished Christmas Day as a feast day and holiday, making it illegal to celebrate it. At the time, people in parliament considered feasting and partying on the holy day that was Christmas immoral. This nightmare soon came to an end, and on the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660, the traditional celebration of Christmas was also fully restored.
10. The biggest gift of all time…
“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas” – Peg Bracken
While Christmas shouldn’t be about the size of the gift but more so about the act of giving back to one another, the French had other things in mind when they gifted the US with the Statue of Liberty.
A widely known sculpture and symbol of freedom and enlightenment, the Statue of Liberty was an emblem of the friendship between the people of France and the U.S. Presented to the U.S in 1886, it is known to be the largest Christmas gift ever. From the base to the torch, the Statue of Liberty stands a whopping 151 feet tall and weighs 225 tonnes. No wonder it’s the largest present ever received!
If you’re still considering what gifts to get your little ones, don’t forget to check out our Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Children as well as our very own selection of top educational toys that would make the perfect gift this Christmas.