Merry Christmas!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

This blog is full of good stuff on the Joy of Christmas: Facts, Fun and Fantasy, for all those who love and can't get enough of Christmas!

There's lots here, so check the listing in the Blog Archive for the following:

- Traditions
- Story of Christ's Birth
- History of Santa
- World customs
- Scriptures
- Stories
- Prose
- Carols
- Meanings, symbols, origins
- Holiday greetings worldwide
- Facts and trivia
- Quotes
- Movie and TV clips
- Much more!

More will also be added. Let me know if there's something that should be here. Comments are appreciated!

To test your Christmas knowledge, see the trivia quiz at the bottom of this page!


The Christmas Tree

Early Evergreens

The use of an evergreen tree in association with the Christmas celebration stems back to pre-Christian pagan celebrations. At this time, people would take in evergreen boughs or trees at the time of winter solstice to protect the home and to insure the return of green vegetation. The evergreen was a symbol of rebirth and life amid winter whiteness. During the winter solstice, around December 21st, the Druidic priests of ancient Britain decorated trees outdoors with apples and lit candles, placing them ever so cautiously on the branches, in order to express their gratitude to their god Odin for his bestowing fruits upon them. The Druids are the first known people to have decorated trees for a religious purpose in the winter.

The Christian Tree

Following the advent of Christ, the evergreen became a symbol used by Christianity to represent eternal life, which is “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7).

A legend of St. Boniface, an English monk who lived in the 7th Century, tells of how he used the fir tree as an example of the tree of life and used its triangular shape to describe the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, evergreens with apples hanging from their boughs were used as part of miracle plays presented on December 24th, which was known as Adam and Eve’s Day. The evergreen, the main prop used in the play, was used since apple trees were bare at that time of year.

The first historical reference to the use of an evergreen for a Christmas celebration occurred in Riga, Latvia on Christmas Eve, 1510. After a festive dinner, black-hatted merchantmen carried an evergreen decorated with artificial roses to the marketplace. After dancing around the tree, they set fire to it. As early as 1531 in Strasbourg, France (formerly a part of Germany) Christmas trees were known to be sold in the market and taken to be set up undecorated in homes for the holiday. This can be assumed to have been a common practice since there was a 16th century ordinance passed in nearby Ammerschweier which limited the height to no “more than eight shoe lengths”.

The Indoor Tree

A German legend of the Christmas tree is attributed to Martin Luther’s celebration of Christmas Eve of 1519. On his way home at night, Martin Luther saw his way clearly because of the stars that shone so brightly in the reflected snow. He went out into the forest and returned with a beautiful fir tree, bringing it into his home so his family could admire it. He then placed glowing candles atop the branches to emulate the starlight outside, and stated that the candles represented the shining stars in the heavens above Bethlehem, some fifteen centuries earlier.

The earliest recorded Christmas tree to be standing up and decorated inside the home as the tradition occurs today was described in a travel diary of an unidentified visitor to Strasbourg in 1605 which was decorated with many colored paper roses, flat wafers, gilded candies, and sugar. The rose was a symbol for Mary, and the wafer was a symbol of the communion or sacrament wafer.

By the 1600’s, such trees were a common sight in German Christian homes each Christmas. In parts of Austria and Germany, some trees were hung upside down from the ceiling, and decorated with strips of red paper, apples and gilded nuts. Trees were usually set up on a table. Candles fastened to branches also became a popular decoration in the seventeenth century. Other ornaments included candies, cookies, fruits and potatoes, sweetmeats, dolls, and toys.

The American Tree

The oldest known reference to the Christmas tree in America was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1747 among German speaking Moravians, who also gave the first Christmas presents in the New World. These were actually pyramid constructions of evergreen boughs. The earliest Christmas trees were small table-size trees; the idea of a floor to ceiling Christmas tree didn’t become popular until the mid-1800’s. Christmas trees were originally present-bearers, decorated largely with gifts of toys and edibles. Originally, family trees were unveiled on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning; the children believed the tree was brought by Santa.

The first “flocked” trees were also introduced by the Pennsylvania German immigrants. The trees were stripped of their needles after they were dried out, and then wrapped in cotton. These trees were often stored for use again in future years.

The widespread use of a Christmas tree in both America and England did not take hold until the mid to late 1800’s. Although Clement C. Moore’s A Visit From St. Nicholas, written in 1822, and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, written in 1848, created a solid foundation for modern-day Christmas traditions, neither of them make mention of the Christmas tree. In 1834, Britain’s Queen Victoria and her German husband Prince Albert were the first to bring a Christmas tree into Windsor Castle, introducing the tradition to the British Empire. Not until 1850 did Charles Dickens make mention of a Christmas tree in his writings, which he described as a “German toy”.

In the 1850’s, the German company Lauscha began to manufacture glass ornaments for Christmas trees, including shaped glass balls, icicles, bead garlands and gilded-tin angels. These soon became popular throughout America. In the 1860’s the idea of stringing popcorn and hang as garlands on the tree became popular. Wax ornaments of baby Jesus, angels and animals, as well as designed cardboard ornaments, were common in the latter half of the 1800’s.

In 1882, New Yorker Edward Johnson invented the first electric tree lights. The tree-lighting ceremony, a favorite American holiday event, had its origins in Germany.

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Christmas Trivia: True or False?

The answers to the following can be found within the various posts on this blog...

Holiday Names and Greetings

1. “X-mas” is an irreverent, non-Christian name for the holiday.

2. “Noel” comes from Old French, meaning “new birth”.

3. “Yule” comes from an ancient Viking celebration of the turning of the sun.

4. “Feliz Navidad” directly translated into English means “Happy Birth”.

5. “Mele Kalikimaka” is Hawaiian for “enjoy the holiday feast”.

The Nativity of Jesus

6. Modern calendar years are based on the verified year of the birth of Christ.

7. The number of visitors, known as Magi, Wise Men or Kings, was three.

8. The Wise Men, or Kings, came to see the newborn baby lying in the manger.

9. Early Christians believed Christ was born on December 25th.

10. Shepherds watched their flocks on the cold winter’s night of Christ’s birth.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

11. The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on December 13th.

12. The gifts given on each day in the song represent items at a Christmas party.

13. The “Two Turtle Doves” represented the Old and New Testaments.

14. The last two gifts were 11 lords a leaping and 12 drummers drumming.

Santa Claus

15. St. Nicholas, who preceded Santa Claus, was born in Germany in 1622.

16. Santa’s flying sleigh and reindeer originated from stories in the 1800’s.

17. Although he’s known by many names in many places, Santa is always a man.

18. Kris Kringle was the name of an early Dutch Santa Claus figure.

19. Santa Claus is largely unknown in places like Japan and China.


20. Rudolph’s story was a promotional creation of Montgomery Ward stores.

21. Blixen is the name of Santa’s eighth reindeer.

22. Donner, the seventh reindeer, is sometimes incorrectly called Donder.

23. The reindeer were first named in “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.

24. Instead of reindeer, in Sweden, a goat pulls Santa’s (Tomten’s) sled.

Christmas Trees

25. The custom of decorating trees for Christmas originated in Germany.

26. Before the 1500’s, Christmas trees were considered a pagan custom.

27. Martin Luther is credited with first putting candles, or lights, on the tree.

28. There is no mention of a Christmas tree in Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.”

29. Hanging the tree upside down from the ceiling used to be popular.


30. The first Christmas card was created and sent in London in 1840.

31. The most popular selling Christmas Carol of all time is “Silent Night”.

32. Mistletoe used to be hung for enemies to meet under and call a truce.

33. Poinsettias were first brought to the U.S. from Mexico by Mr. Poinsett.

34. Christmas mince pie contained rabbit, pheasant and partridge meat.

35. “Nog” in eggnog refers to a heavy noggin (head) from drinking too much.

36. The tradition of filling stockings originated in the country of Turkey.

37. Sleigh rides with jingle bells is a favorite Christmas activity in Australia.

38. Celebrating Christmas was once outlawed in Merry Olde England.

39. Candy canes were created to keep children quiet during church services.

40. Swedish Christmas celebrates St. Lucia, who helped needy people in Italy.


1. False. “X” comes from the Greek letter that start’s Christ’s name and represents Christ.
2. True. Oui, oui. Noel is tres French, an old word which is related to the nouvelle, meaning “new”.
3. True. The word “yule” is old Norse for wheel, meaning the wheel in the sky that turns to give more light.
4. True. “Feliz” means “happy”. “Navidad” translates to nativity, which also means birth.
5. False. It means nothing in Hawaiian. It is an attempt to spell English “Merry Christmas” using Hawaiian letters.
6. False. There is no historical verification to the year of Christ’s birth. Some scholars believe it was in 2 to 4 B.C.
7. False. Three gifts are mentioned, but no number of the visitors is given. Some believe there were 12 or more.
8. False. They arrived well after Christ was born, and most likely saw him inside a home in a regular bed.
9. False. No exact date was known. When Romans became Christian, the Dec. 25th date replaced a pagan holiday.
10. False. Shepherds were not in the fields with their flocks during winter. This most likely occurred in the spring.
11. False. They start on Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, and last until Jan. 6th, the Eastern Orthodox Christmas Day.
12. True. In Old England, a party was held on “12th Night”. All the gifts were represented through food or fun.
13. True. The gifts and numbers were created to represent / disguise gospel principles for early persecuted believers.
14. False. There are 10 lords a leaping, not 11. Correct answer: 11 pipers piping, 12 drummers drumming.
15. False. St. Nicholas was born in Asia Minor, now known as Turkey, sometime during the 3rd Century.
16. False. The idea originated from early legends of Viking gods flying through the skies on animal-pulled sleighs.
17. False. In Italy, the gift giver is an old woman known as La Befana. In parts of Russia, she is known as Babushka.
18. False. Kris Kringle is an Americanization of the German gift giver “Christ-kindl”, or “Christ Child”.
19. False. Santa Claus has become a popular holiday figure in both Japan and China, not necessarily for Christmas.
20. True. It was a 1939 promotional gimmick given to those who did Christmas shopping at Montgomery Ward.
21. False. The name of the eighth reindeer is spelled Blitzen, not Blixen.
22. False. The original text of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” spells the seventh reindeer’s name as Donder.
23. True. “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore was the first text that named the eight reindeer.
24. True. Although many reindeer are in Northern Sweden, Tomten rides a sled through the forest pulled by a goat.
25. False. The Germans adapted modern tree traditions from customs of the ancient Romans and Celtic druids.
26. False. 7th Century Catholic monk St. Boniface used the indoor evergreen’s triangle shape to teach of the Godhead.
27. True. Legend claims Martin Luther first put candles on his tree, to represent the light of Christ for his children.
28. True. Christmas trees did not become popular in England until after Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol”.
29. True. Many trees were originally hung upside down in Old Europe and in early Pennsylvania settlements.
30. True. John C. Horsley created his own card in 1840. The idea caught on, and his card was re-printed in 1843.
31. False. Although “Silent Night” is popular in many countries, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is the top seller.
32. True. Used for many things, mistletoe brought people together, including those who needed to kiss and make-up.
33. True. Joel Roberts Poinsett, Ambassador to Mexico, introduced the “Holy Night Flowers” to the U.S. in 1825.
34. True. Originally, mince pie was a meat pie. Fruits and spices were later added, and then the meat was dropped.
35. False. “Nog” is another term for “grog”, which is a rum-based drink. Eggnog is sometimes served with rum.
36. True. St. Nicholas, who lived in Turkey, is claimed to have assisted the needy by leaving gold coins in stockings.
37. False. Christmas in Australia occurs during summertime. A beach barbecue is a popular Christmas Day event.
38. True. From 1645 to 1660, because of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, celebrating Christmas was illegal.
39. True. A Cologne Cathedral Choirmaster gave shepherds crook-shaped candy to kids during long nativity services.
40. True. Though celebrated in Sweden, Lucia’s legend began with her Christian services and martyrdom in Italy.

Correct Answers Rating:
40 - Cheater, you peeked! Not even Santa knew all of these.
35 to 39 - Next in line to be Santa. How’s your “ho, ho, ho”?
30 to 34 - A true Christmas elf. Santa’s looking to promote you.
25 to 29 - On Santa’s Nice List, but you could do better.
20 to 24 - Rockin’ around the Christmas tree, but you’re missing some good stuff.
15 to 19 - You like Christmas, but your favorite holiday is Halloween, right?
10 to 14 - Christmas is coming, and you haven’t got a ha’penny. God bless you.
Less than 10 - Bah humbug. You need to pay more attention if you want more than coal in your stocking. Better watch out or you’ll get run over by a reindeer.