Fasab’s Feast Of Festive Facts

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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You probably thought by now that you knew all there was to know about Christmas.

But there might be a few things in here that may be new to you.

Enjoy.

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Each year more than 3 billion

Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone.

Christmas Cards

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The actual date of the birth of Jesus is not known

and for hundreds of years was not celebrated by Christians.

The decision to use December 25 was made in 350AD by pope Julius I

and was chosen because it was the same date used in pagan festivals

such as Saturnalia (December 17-December 23),

the Kalends (January 1 -5, the precursor to the Twelve Days of Christmas),

and Deus Sol Invictus or Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun (December 25).

Christmas-a-Pagan-Ritual .

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According to the Guinness world records,

the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir

that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.

tall Christmas tree .

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The word ‘Mistletoe’ actually means “little dung twig”

because the plant spreads though bird droppings.

Pagans, such as the Druids, considered mistletoe sacred because it remains

green and bears fruit during the winter when all other plants appear to die.

They even thought it had the power to cure infertility

and nervous diseases and to ward off evil.

Even today a hanging sprig is a fertility or virility symbol

and kissing under the Mistletoe at Christmas or even standing under it

is a signal that the person is sexually available – so be very careful!

Mistletoe_Kiss_by_bittenhard .

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Although Santa Claus may have been based on a fourth-century bishop from Patara,

in the modern-day country of Turkey, St. Nikolas of Myra,

the modern day Santa Claus that we know first appeared as a recognizable entity

was in a newspaper ad for toys and “gift books” in the mid 19th century.

Originally Santa wore Green colored robes, green signifying the coming spring,

but another ad, this time from the Coco Cola company,

used their own color scheme of red and white which has become the accepted color today.

Green Santa .

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It is only in very recent times that Christmas has become a “family” holiday.

Even in the late 1800’s December 25 was not a legal holiday in New England,

so stores were open, business were open, and children were expected to attend school.

Christmas was originally celebrated as an adult form of “trick or treat,”

with the “treat” consisting of an alcoholic beverage and

the threatened “trick” consisting of bodily harm or destruction of property.

drunk_christmas

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“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” was originally a threat.

The ever-popular song was originally sung, loudly and repeatedly,

by crowds of rowdy, lower-class servants demanding booze from their masters… or else. 

(I.e. “We won’t go until we get some!”)

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

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Victorian intellectuals invented the tradition of the Christmas tree

as part of a social movement to consciously reform Christmas

away from its tradition of raucous drinking.

Free-Wallpaper-Christmas-Tree

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Many people mistakenly believe that the character ‘Scrooge’

from Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’,

celebrates Christmas at the home of his clerk Bob Cratchit.

However, in Victorian times this would not have been socially acceptable so,

whilst the reformed ‘Scrooge’ does send the Cratchits a turkey,

he celebrates instead with his middle-class nephew.

scrooge with nephew

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All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.

It’s not 78 as some people say,

it’s an accumulative song with each verse building on the last.

The first verse has 1 gift, the second verse has 2 + 1 gifts.

The third verse has 3 + 2 etc.

12 days gifts

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The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold.

Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth;

red symbolizes the blood of Christ,

and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.

Christmas colors red green and gold

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The world’s largest Christmas stocking measured 51 m 35 cm (168 ft 5.65 in) in length

and 21 m 63 cm (70 ft 11.57 in) in width (heel to toe)

and was produced by the volunteer emergency services organization

Pubblica Assistenza Carrara e Sezioni (Italy) in Carrara, Tuscany, Italy, on 5 January 2011.

largest christmas stocking

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Christmas trees have been sold in the U.S. since 1850.

Christmas Tree

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People in many European countries believed that spirits,

both good and evil, were active during the Twelve Days of Christmas.

These spirits eventually evolved into Santa’s elves.

santa's elves

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Each year there are approximately 20,000 “rent-a-Santas” across the United States.

rent-a-santa

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Bolivians celebrate Misa del Gallo or “Mass of the Rooster” on Christmas Eve.

Some people bring roosters to the midnight mass, a gesture that symbolizes

the belief that a rooster was the first animal to announce the birth of Jesus.

misa_de_gallo__copy

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The British wear paper crowns while they eat Christmas dinner.

The crowns are stored in a tube called a “Christmas cracker.”

jane-burton-golden-retriever-puppy-with-christmas-crackers-wearing-paper-hat

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In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations

because according to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus.

In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas.

spider's web in Christmas tree

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In the United States Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday until June 26, 1870.

Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836

and Oklahoma was the last state the declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.

happy holidays

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Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday,

the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations from 1659-1681

with a penalty of five shillings for each offense.

Some Puritan leaders condemned those who favored Christmas

as enemies of the Christian religion.

Likewise Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of England

banned Christmas celebrations.

puritan christmas

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Christmas purchases account for 1/6 of all retail sales in the U.S.

Retail sales

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The poinsettia is native to Mexico and was cultivated by the Aztecs,

who called the plant Cuetlaxochitl (“flower which wilts”).

For the Aztecs, the plant’s brilliant red color symbolized purity,

and they often used it medicinally to reduce fever.

Contrary to popular belief, the poinsettia is not poisonous, but holly berries are.

poinsettia-flower

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In 1962, the first Christmas postage stamp was issued in the United States.

first christmas postage stamp

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Santa Claus, or St Nicholas, is the world’s most popular non-Biblical saint.

He is, for example, the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, pirating,

butchery, sailing, thievery, orphans, royalty, and New York City.

Artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint except Mary.

pawnbroker-symbol

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There are two competing claims as to which president was

the first to place a Christmas tree in the White House.

Some scholars say President Franklin Pierce did in 1856;

others say President Benjamin Harrison brought in the first tree in 1889.

What isn’t disputed is the fact that President Coolidge started

the White House lighting ceremony in 1923.

White House Christmas lights

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President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist,

banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1912.

He needn’t have worried though, these days there are in excess of

400 million trees with tens of millions of Christmas trees planted each year.

Christmas tree farm in Iowa.

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It is estimated that the single “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin

is the best selling single of all time, with over 100 million sales worldwide.

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Did You Know? More Random Facts From Fasab’s Files

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Another chance to increase your knowledge with a very random list of facts from fasab’s files.

Have some fun throwing one or two of these into conversations. It will either make you the hit of the party, or you won’t be asked back. Possibly a win-win scenario!

As always, enjoy.

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did you know2

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“I” is the most spoken word in the English language

 i

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“You” is the second most spoken English word

 i-want-you

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An Olympic gold medal must contain 92.5 percent silver

London 2012 Olympic gold medal

 

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Lee Harvey Oswald’s cadaver tag sold at an auction for $6,600 in 1992.

Lee Harvey Oswald toe tag

 

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The average American works 24,000 hours in their lifetime

just to pay their taxes

 Tax_Ftrs_TFD_cartoon_8hr_tax_bite

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A quarter of Russia is covered by forest.

Russian forest

 

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A rodents teeth never stop growing.

They are worn down by the animal’s constant gnawing

on bark, leaves, and vegetables.

clipart_mousechew

 

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About 3000 years ago, most Egyptians

died by the time they were thirty.

Pyramids

 

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A Walla Walla scene

is one where extras pretend to be talking in the background

when they say walla walla it looks like they are actually talking.

Extras

 

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Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans

because passing wind in a spacesuit damages them.

spacesuit cartoon

 

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Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952.

Einstein

 

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Alexander the Great was an epileptic.

(He’d have a fit if he knew I’d told you that!)

Alexander the Great 

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In eighteenth century English gambling dens,

there was an employee whose only job

was to swallow the dice if there was a police raid.

swallow dice

 

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In England, in the 1800’s pants was considered a dirty word.

Pants-DayNewsCartoonOfTheDay

 

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In the movie “Star Trek: First Contact”,

when Picard shows Lilly she is orbiting Earth,

Australia and Papa New Guinea are clearly visible

.. But New Zealand is missing.

Australia - New Zealand

 

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Irving Berlin, who was born on 11 May 1888

and who composed three thousand songs in his lifetime,

couldn’t read music.

Irving-Berlin

 

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It is estimated that millions of trees in the world

are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts

and then forget where they hid them.

 forgetful_squirrel

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Jacques Cousteau invented scuba gear

while in the French resistance during World War II

Jaques Cousteau Scuba gear

 

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The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street

were named after Bert the cop and Ernie

the taxi driver in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Bert-and-Ernie 

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A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champange

will bounce up and down continually from the bottom of the glass to the top.

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