5 Things You Might Not Know About Christmas

It’s that time of year again! Christmas songs are blaring out of the radio and everywhere you go tinsel and fairy lights attract your attention. I really love this time of year, it’s so full of magic and the air feels like it’s electrically charged.

So many amazing things happen at this time of year, and in this article I’d like to share with you 5 things that you might not know about Christmas.

 

5. Christmas Truce 1914

Christmas Truce 1914

German and British soldiers in No Man’s Land, 1914

Christmas Eve 1914 would have certainly been an interesting place to be. It was the first year of WWI and the soldiers decided they’d had enough of fighting. They laid down their weapons and began singing Christmas carols across the trenches to each other.

On Christmas morning the German troops even crossed the battlefield to exchange Christmas greetings and gifts of cigarettes, they were met in good spirit by the Allied troops. I admit thinking about this unlikely event gives me goosebumps and just goes to show that even in the heights of conflict we aren’t so different after all.

 

4. Space Santa?

Santa in space

Santa in Space. Image source

In 1965 two astronauts claimed to have spotted something unidentifable in space and radioed Mission Control, seemingly in a panic. After a little while, the people working at Mission Control in Cape Canaveral thought they could hear the faint sound of sleigh bells and then the tune, “Jingle Bells”, being played on the harmonica.

It turns out it was the astronauts attempting to play a trick on those listening. They donated the harmonica and sleigh bells to the National Museum of Space & Aeronautics.

 

3. Christmas is banned!

Plum pudding Victorian era Christmas dinner

Order is restored in Victorian times…

Yup. You heard correctly! In 1644 Christmas was illegal in England and all celebrations were strictly forbidden by the Puritan Christians of the period. They disliked the strong connections Christmas had with the Pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice and Saturnalia and believed that in order to be devout Christians they should refrain from joining in with the celebrations.

When the Puritans set sail for the New World, they took their disdain of such celebrations with them and it wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas even became a recognised holiday in America!

 

2. Generous gift givers

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Carol singing under the Trafalgar Sq Christmas tree
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

I bet you didn’t know that the Christmas Tree that stands in Trafalgar Square every year is actually gifted to the UK by the City of Oslo, as gratitude for their help in the Second World War.

As if that wasn’t generous enough, in 1886 France gave The Statue of Liberty to America in recognition of their friendship that had developed during the American Revolution. The idea was obviously to create something that would stand for freedom and democracy. I think they did a pretty good job – A far cry from our money-saving DIY gifts!

 

1. 13 Naughty Nicks…

13 Santas

13 ‘Yule Lads’ (and their parents). Image source

In Iceland there is an old tradition of 13 versions of Santa Claus who will either reward children’s “good” behaviour by leaving presents or punish “bad” behaviour by pulling a series of pranks on them during the festive period, which lasts 26 days! Yikes! Better be on best behaviour then!

 

What do you think of my list? Do you have any interesting Christmas facts to add? If so, pop them in the comments below!

 

About Cassie Raine

Cassie is a home educating mum-of-two, living in the Kentish countryside. She has a keen interest in history, especially ancient history, literature, myths and legends, theology, environmental issues, self-sufficiency and current affairs. In her spare time she enjoys reading, country walks, knitting and learning new skills. She believes passionately that learning should be a pleasure, never a chore.
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