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!


Elias Elf Finds His Specialty

This story was written by Ken R. Young in 2001.

“Each elf is expected to find his own specialty”, Santa instructed his elves. “You’ve got to find out what you are good at, and become very special in that area.”

Elias Elf had been trying to find his own special place at Santa’s workshop for several years now. Each year, he would help in different areas, trying to decide which area could be his specialty. Sometimes he would help build toy trains and race car sets, or package board games in their boxes.

Sometimes he would help at Mrs. Claus’ candy kitchen and bakery, preparing special goodies for stocking stuffers and Christmas morning treats. One year, he even helped put hair on Christmas dolls. But Elias never quite felt that he was doing what he was supposed to be doing – he couldn’t find his elf specialty.

So this year, well before Christmas, Elias went to see the Boss Elf, or Santa, as he is better known. Elias felt he needed some help finding his elf specialty. After explaining his problem, Santa told Elias, “I see you need some extra help, Elias. But it really is quite simple. Seek the Spirit of Christmas. It will let you know what you should do.”

“But where do I find the Spirit of Christmas?”, Elias asked. “How will I know what it is?”

“Ho, ho! Elias! You surprise me!”, Santa exclaimed. “You’re a Christmas Elf and you don’t know where the Spirit of Christmas is? I see we have a bigger problem than I first thought!” Santa scratched his beard for a moment and the said, “Elias, I think you need to spend some time out in the world, to watch and listen to people, and see what their needs are. If you do this, and listen to your heart, you will find the Spirit of Christmas, as well as your elf specialty.”

Elias knew that Santa must be right, yet he still didn’t understand how this was going to work. But he decided to give it a try, so he grabbed some Christmas notepaper and a pen, and caught the next ride out on the North Pole Sleigh.

The sleight first stopped at a small mountain village where he saw several children playing in the park. “Children! That’s it!, he thought as he climbed out of the sleigh. “They love Christmas! I’ll follow some of them around and see if they can help me.” Elias came up to two brothers, named Jorden and Landon, and tried to talk to them, but then he remembered that they couldn’t see or hear him. He was a Christmas Elf, and elves cannot be seen unless Santa thinks there’s a good reason for them to be seen.

So, for the next couple of days, Elias followed the boys wherever they went, looking for clues and taking notes. He even watched them while they were sleeping. They seemed to be normal boys who were almost good. They talked about lots of things, and even mentioned what toys they hoped to get for Christmas, and Elias promptly wrote down a note for Santa. He listened to them plan a Christmas surprise for Mrs. Powell, the old woman who lived next door. Every morning that it snowed, they planned to get up early and secretly shovel the snow off her porch stairs, sidewalk and driveway.

Sure enough, the boys woke up early the next morning and saw that snow had fallen during the night. Elias watched them bundle up and go out to clear the snow at Mrs. Powell’s house, and then run home before they were seen.

As they were warming up inside with a cup of hot chocolate, Elias also noted that Jorden and Landon loved to eat cereal for breakfast. They ate lots of it! Their mom shook her head and said she couldn’t believe how fast these two cereal lovers emptied the cereal boxes. But, after two days of taking notes, Elias couldn’t find any clues about the Spirit of Christmas or his elf specialty.

When the North Pole Sleigh came through town again, Elias hopped on. He wasn’t sure where he would go next, but hoped he might find something there to help him. The next stop was a bigger city, where city workers were decorating the town square for the Christmas season. “Christmas decorators!” thought Elias excitedly. “Now, they surely must have the Spirit of Christmas with them!”.

Elias waited until the workers were done putting up lights on the tall pine tree in the town square, and then followed one of the men home. The man was Mr. Johnson, who lived in a tall apartment building. When he came home, his wife and children were busy baking in the kitchen. Elias heard Mrs. Johnson talk about all the baking they would be doing between now and Christmas, making plates of homemade goodies as gifts for their friends and neighbors.

The next few days, Elias watched the Johnson family bake and prepare many plates of goodies, and he followed them as they delivered the plates. Sometimes they sang Christmas carols at their friends’ doors, and sometimes they set the plate at the door, rang the doorbell and ran. But each time, he noted a special glow and smile on their faces after the plates had been delivered.

One day, after baking a huge batch of goodies, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson sat down on their couch to rest for a while. Mr. Johnson said, “Well, at least we can look forward to Christmas morning, not only for opening our presents, but to take a break from all this baking and cooking in the kitchen.”

Their oldest daughter, Latissa, asked, “You mean we won’t be having a Christmas breakfast this year?” “Not if it means having to cook”, her mom quickly answered. Mr. Johnson joined in saying, “That’s right. Don’t you think your parents should enjoy Christmas morning without having to do more cooking?”

Elias noted that the kids looked a little concerned about this, but he soon began to wonder if he would find anything at this home that would help him in his search for the Spirit of Christmas and clues for his elf specialty.

Finally,, Elias decided that he had better move on and seek the Spirit of Christmas in another place. Riding on the North Pole Sleigh towards his third stop, Elias began to get worried. It was now only a few days before Christmas, and he needed to finish his task and get back to the North Pole to help get Santa packed for Christmas Eve. The sleigh dropped Elias off near a farm, with a small, old-looking house. Snow was falling and it was getting quite cold outside.

As Elias stepped off the sleigh, he began to wonder if this was a good place for him to be. Here was only one house to spend his last few days in; and although he was creating a long list of notes, he didn’t think he had much of anything that would help him. What if he didn’t find the Spirit of Christmas or his specialty before Christmas? Surely, Santa would be disappointed in him.

He turned back to get on the sleigh to find another place, but it was too late. The sleigh was already jingling down the road. Elias sighed. “Oh well,” he thought as he walked towards the old farm house. “I might as well see what there is here.”

Inside the house were Mrs. Lawrence and her little daughter Kylie, keeping warm at a table near the fireplace. Although they didn’t have much in their poor, humble home, Elias noted that the feeling of love was strong. Kylie was writing a letter to Santa Claus. Naturally, Elias was interested in this.

“Mom,” Kylie asked, “do you think Santa could bring me a new dolly?” Her mother sighed, “Oh, Kylie, I’m sure he would want to. But I’m not sure if he can this year.” And then, almost under her breath, she said, “What we really need is some food.” Elias noticed a great look of concern on Mrs. Lawrence’s face, and he thought, “Santa must be able to help this family!”.

“I know!” said Kylie. “I’ll ask Santa for my favorite cereal to eat on Christmas morning. That would be a good thing to ask for! Do you think Santa could bring me some Fruit Crunchies? I haven’t had them for a long time!” Again, Mrs. Lawrence sighed and only said, “We’ll see.”

After Mrs. Lawrence put Kylie to bed, Elias watched her sit down at the table and write something else at the end of Kylie’s letter to Santa. It said “P.S. – If only we could find a way to get some food. I can’t bear to let my daughter go hungry on Christmas morning.” As she folded the letter and put it in the envelope, Elias saw a tear roll down her cheek.

Elias felt a strong feeling inside him that made him desire, more than anything else, to help this family have a good Christmas. He said out loud, “Don’t you worry. I’ll see to it that you have a Merry Christmas!” In surprise, Mrs. Lawrence looked right at Elias and asked, “Who are you?” Elias was also surprised that she had seen and heard him, for he thought that no one could. That is, he remembered, unless Santa thought there was a good reason for it.

“I am Elias Elf, one of Santa’s Elves”, he explained. “I’ve come here in search of the Spirit of Christmas and to find out what my specialty as an elf is.” Elias looked at his long list of notes, and said, “I’m not sure how or when I’ll find them, but for now, that doesn’t matter. I’m going to do everything I can to help you and your daughter get what you need for Christmas.”

Through her tears, Mrs. Lawrence said, “Oh Elias, that would be wonderful! I would be so grateful for anything. But, since my husband died, I’m not so sure that I believe in Santa Claus anymore.” Elias responded, “But you must! Believing in Santa Claus is the same thing as believing in your dreams, and having faith that everything will turn out alright. It’s having love in your heart and doing good for others. That’s the true Spirit of Christmas.”

“Well, it sounds to me that you have found the Spirit of Christmas”, Mrs. Lawrence said. Elias was suddenly struck in his heart. “She’s right! I have! And it’s been right here in my heart!” he thought in amazement. Then, he got an excellent idea for his elf specialty. Elias smiled a huge smile, gave Mrs. Lawrence a big elf hug and said to her, “Don’t you worry, everything is going to be just fine. You’ll have a very merry Christmas. Just believe in Santa Claus!”

“I will” she said, and she waved goodbye to Elias as he ran out the front door with his list of notes flying in his hand.

Back on the sleigh, Elias was so excited to get back to the North Pole and let Santa know what had happened and what they needed to do. When he arrived, it was Christmas Eve. Santa was proud of what Elias had found, and said “Hurry up and pack what we need. You’ll be going with me to deliver the gifts and to perform your elf specialty!” Elias couldn’t believe his ears! He was about to do what few elves had done before – ride with Santa Claus on his sleigh for the Christmas Eve journey!

The next morning, Jorden and Landon awoke to find many surprises from Santa, along with two boxes of their favorite cereal. Attached to the boxes was a special note saying “Merry Christmas, from Elias the Cereal Elf”. Their mom wondered how Santa’s elf knew what the boy’ favorite cereal was, but Jorden and Landon didn’t seem too surprised as they began to pour themselves each a big bowlful.

As the Johnson family finished opening their presents, Latissa wandered in to the kitchen to see what she could get for her rumbling stomach, knowing there wasn’t going to be a Christmas breakfast prepared that morning. Her eyes popped open wide as she saw a stack of the yummiest cereals wrapped with shiny ribbons on the kitchen table. Each one had a Christmas greeting from “Elias the Cereal Elf”.

Just before dawn, Mrs. Lawrence was woken abruptly to the sound of a scream. It was Kylie! “Oh my!”, she wondered, “What on earth could be wrong?” She ran into the living room and stopped suddenly to see a glorious sight.

Kylie was smiling and hugging a beautiful new doll, and was sitting in the middle of a huge pile of pretty Christmas presents. On the table were several baskets of all kinds of food, and on top of the largest basket was a box of Fruit Crunchies cereal, with a note from Elias the Cereal Elf, saying “To Kylie: I hope you and your mom have the merriest Christmas!”

And they did!

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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.