December 25 is Christmas Day, and it has been celebrated since the year 336 A.D. when the Roman Emperor Constantine held the first celebration. Here are 6 surprising facts you probably didn't know about Christmas...
Christmas Wasn’t Always Celebrated on December 25 While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, there is no mention of December 25 in the Bible. Most historians actually posit that Jesus was born in the spring. And his birthday itself didn't become the official holiday until the third century. Some historian believe the date was actually chosen because it coincided with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which honored the agricultural god Saturn with celebrating and gift-giving.
You Can Thank Prince Albert For Your Christmas Tree
Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to his wife, Queen Victoria of England, because decorated trees had been a tradition in his homeland of Germany as far back as medieval times. A drawing of the couple in front of a Christmas tree appeared in Illustrated London News in 1848 and as we say, the idea went viral.
Coca-Cola Played A Part In Santa's Image In the early days, Santa was depicted as tall and gaunt, and in some cases, he appeared as a spooky elf with a bishop’s robe and animal skin. In 1931, Coca-Cola illustrator Haddon Sundblom redesigned Santa’s image to use in the company’s magazine ads, and that is the figure recognized today as the jolly old elf.
This Christmas Gift Held A Lifesaving Secret During World War II
During World War II, British and American intelligence agencies joined forces with the United States Playing Card Company to create a very special deck of cards. The cards were handed out for Christmas to help prisoners of war escape Nazi POW camps. Individual cards peeled apart when moistened, to reveal maps of escape routes.
Christmas Was Illegal in Boston At One Time Between 1659 and 1681, Christmas was outlawed by Puritans who had settled in Boston. During those years, those making too merry on that day could be faced with a fine of five shillings. After the Revolutionary War, the day was so unimportant that Congress even held their first session on December 25, 1789. Christmas wasn't proclaimed a federal holiday for almost another century in 1870.
“Jingle Bells” Was The First Song Played In Space
"Jingle Bells" was the first song broadcast from space, in a Christmas-themed prank by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra. In 1965, shortly before Christmas, the astronauts reported that they spotted a UFO entering the Earth’s atmosphere and that it was moving away from the North Pole and headed south. Before the people at NASA’s Mission Control became too shocked, the astronauts started playing the song “Jingle Bells.” The astronauts joined in with Tom Stafford shaking the sleigh bells he had smuggled aboard and Wally Schirra playing a miniature harmonica.