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!


More About "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is an enduring animated holiday classic, adapted from a book written by Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" made its debut two days before Christmas in 1966, and has been shown on television every year since. But since Geisel was not keen on any of his stories being adapted into other mediums, it took a lot of persuasion from one of his friends to bring "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to the silver screen.

Ted Geisel was fifty three years old when "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was first published in 1957. The book was an immediate hit, and eventually one of Geisel's old buddies, Chuck Jones, came to him with the idea of turning it into a carton for the holidays. Jones was the man who had brought such characters as the Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wily E. Coyote, and more to life, working for the Warner Brothers cartoon studio. 

Jones and Geisel knew each other from years before when they had made a series of training cartons for World War II together. Geisel had created a character named "Private Snafu", a screw-up of a soldier who was an example of how not to be. The Army used to show the cartoons to enlisted men, and Jones was one of the directors working alongside Geisel from 1943 through 1945.

Jones wanted Boris Karloff to narrate "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", but Geisel was taken aback at the suggestion that someone so connected to the horror genre would have a role in the project. When Jones told Geisel that Karloff always read stories to his grand children, and when he actually heard him read the script, he agreed Boris was the right man for the job. 

One of the problems with the adaptation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was that it included the actual text of the book in spoken form, and it takes but a few minutes to read the story. Geisel added the two songs, "Welcome, Christmas" and "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch" and he decided to make the text a bit longer with some added passages. The resulting additions allowed the cartoon to run for 26 minutes, perfect for television with its breaks for commercials.

In the book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", the Grinch is actually black and white, but Jones decided it should be green, with a longer face, and Geisel would remark that the Grinch in the cartoon looked like Jones himself somewhat. The music to Geisel's lyrics was composed by Albert Hague, who had played the music teacher on the television series "Fame". "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch" was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, who was better known as the voice of Frosted Flake's Tony the Tiger for fifty three years in over five hundred television commercials. Ravenscroft's name was unintentional left out of the screen credits, leading many to believe that Karloff had sung the song, as his voice was similar in tone. Geisel would send letters to every major newspaper columnist in America explaining the oversight. 

The other song, "Welcome Christmas", had lyrics that sounded like they were Latin, but they were just made up words; this did not stop people from writing the studio asking for the Latin translation!

You will notice in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" that when he rescues the sleigh and all of the Christmas trappings from going over the side of the mountain that the pupils of his eyes turn from red to blue. Karloff's voice, when speaking as the Grinch, was made to sound different by having the highs removed mechanically. The Grinch would appear in other specials, including "Halloween is Grinch Night", but none of them were nearly as magical as "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", which at over three hundred thousand dollars had been one of the most expensive animated projects ever up to that time.

Theodore Geisel died in 1991, at the age of eighty-seven. His second wife, Audrey, was responsible for all matters pertaining to the licensing of his books, and she gave permission for a live re-make of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to be made, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey. But it could not recapture the cartoon's message of Christmas being more than material things, and when Mike Myers starred in a terrible and critically panned film version of "The Cat in the Hat", Geisel's widow reportedly pulled the plug on any future movie projects. 

Chuck Jones passed away in 2002, with a legacy as one of the cartoon industry's greats. Boris Karloff left us in 1969 at the age of eighty one, the movie monster whose voice will forever be remembered for narrating "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Thurl Ravenscroft is also gone, dying at ninety one in 2005. 

The creators of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" may be dead, but the spirit they injected into this cartoon will live on for a long, long time.

by Carl Kolchak, Yahoo Contributor Network
Nov 18, 2006 

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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.