Now is the “magical” time of “winter holidays,” when Christmas and New Year are precious moments celebrated by many people around the world, especially those belonging to the “Christianity” area (North and South America, Australia and Europe). Globalization opens the door to these celebrations to orientals, especially Chinese, but other Asians and Africans as well.
In this way, we might even say that today we already have a globalized “Christmas” and “New Year”.
Here are 10 interesting facts about Christmas that do not make sense:
#1 Many Americans may be surprised to know that Santa, adapted from the religious tale of Saint Nicholas, has deep roots in New York State. It was here that Sinterklaas made his debut in 17th-century New Netherland.
#2 The name Santa Claus comes from the word Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, who was born in the fourth century in Myra, Asia Minor, and there became a bishop. Over time, he evolved from a bishop to the modern depiction of the jolly old man smoking a clay pipe.
#3 Early illustrations of St. Nicholas makes him out to be a stern symbol of discipline rather than the jolly, overweight elf that children know today.
#4 The Coca-Cola Company began its Christmas advertising in the 1920s with shopping-related ads in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. The first Santa ads used a strict-looking Claus, in the vein of Thomas Nast.
#5 Many of the popular Christmas traditions today found their roots in Saturnalia: branches from evergreen trees were used during winter solstice as a reminder of the green plants that would grow in spring when the sun gods grew strong.
“Most people have heard that the Christmas tree originates in the Tannenbaum (a German Christmas song) and is some sort of vestige of Teutonic vegetation worship. This is partially true. However, the custom of using pine and other evergreens ceremonially was well established at the ROMAN SATURNALIA, even earlier in Egypt,” according to The Book of Christmas Folklore (p. 209).
#6 Saturnalia was a festival in which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn. Saturn was the Roman god of harvest and agriculture. Moreover, the Roman pagans introduced into their law December 17-25 as Saturnalia. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no individual could be punished for injuring people or damaging property during the week-long celebration.
#7 In 350 A.D., Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ. But there is no mention of December 25 in the Bible and most historians actually believe He was born in the spring.
#8 So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night? To deliver all his presents in time he’d have to travel at such a high speed that Rudolph and co would burn up due to friction, just like small meteors entering the atmosphere. Dr. Sheen explains – “visiting around 700 million children in 31 hours would mean he would have to travel at 10 million kilometers an hour if he is to deliver presents to every child.” Maybe that explains the red nose.
#9 One of the most influential yet secret components to Christmas is the Amanita Muscaria mushroom. Amanita muscaria, also known in the West as a ”toadstool” or ”magic mushroom,” found in Siberia, among other regions of the world. These bright red mushrooms, with their pretty white specks, have long been connected with folk tales of fairies and other mystical creatures, but also make an annual appearance at Christmas time.
Note: This mushroom is actually a favorite food of the reindeer. Folks back in the day would drink the pee of reindeer in order to enjoy the hallucinogenic properties of Amanita muscaria without having to filter out any toxins. Furthermore, ”The Santa Shaman” also hung the mushrooms on pine trees and in socks over a hearth to dry them out; hence, stockings and ornaments.
#10 The Winter Solstice is the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice commonly falls on December 21/December 22, which is the southern hemisphere’s summer solstice. The precise reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains obscure, but most researchers believe that Christmas originated as a Christian substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.
Beyond all our criticism to winter holidays and traditions due to the way they were absorbed over time, i.e. mechanically and unconsciously, there is also a good side which should be practiced more often and for more sincere reasons: family and/or friends reunion, joy, shared love. All these balance the background negativity of the holidays’ origin.