Fasab’s Fascinating Festive Facts

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


Hi, and welcome to fasab’s fascinating festive facts.

Everything on my blog this week is in Christmas mode including these tidbits of information that you may be able to work into the conversation if you are at a party or two this week.

Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas.


festive facts


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.

traditional three colors of Christmas



The first printed reference to a

Christmas tree was in 1531 in Germany.




Apparently seven out of ten British dogs

get Christmas gifts from their doting owners.

dogs get Christmas gifts



A lot of people don’t like it,

but the abbreviation of ‘Xmas’ for

Christmas is not irreligious.

The first letter of the word Christ in Greek is chi,

which is identical to our X.

Xmas was originally an ecclesiastical abbreviation

that was used in tables and charts.

Xmas for Christmas



Electric Christmas lights

were first used in 1854.




Some people who were born on December 25

feel hard done by because they have to

make do with one present instead of two

and share their big day celebrations with everybody else.

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island,

recognized the problem. When he died on December 4, 1894,

he willed his November 13 birthday to a friend

who disliked her own Christmas birthday

Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island



Franklin Pierce was the first president to

decorate an official White House Christmas tree.




Silent Night was written in 1818,

by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr.

He was told the day before Christmas

that the church organ was broken

and would not be repaired in time for Christmas Eve.



Artificial Christmas trees

have outsold real ones since 1991.

Artificial Christmas tree



In the British armed forces it is traditional

that officers wait on the other ranks

and serve them their Christmas dinner.

This dates back to a custom from the Middle Ages.

British armed forces Christmas dinner



Long before mistletoe became a saucy ‘kiss encourager’,

it was considered to have magic powers.

It was said to have the ability to heal

wounds and increase fertility.

Celts hung mistletoe in their homes

in order to bring themselves good luck

and ward off evil spirits.




Each year there are approximately 20,000

“rent-a-Santas” across the United States.

“Rent-a-Santas” usually undergo seasonal training

on how to maintain a jolly attitude

under pressure from the public.

They also receive practical advice,

such as not accepting money from parents

while children are looking and

avoiding garlic, onions, or beans for lunch.




In Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea,

your age is measured not in years

but in how many Christmases you’ve lived through;

you’re not 20, you’re twenti krismas.

Rather less charmingly,

the Japanese expression to describe

single women over 25 years old is

kurisumasu keiki – left-over Christmas cake.




Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names,

such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid.

However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas,

so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh

are likely not male, but female –  or castrati.  

(I wonder if that is the origin of hanging balls

on a Christmas tree comes from?)

Santa’s reindeer



The popular Christmas song “Jingle Bells”

was actually written for Thanksgiving.

The song was composed in 1857 by James Pierpont,

and was originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh”.






Pedro Pisa Picked A Pack Of Peculiar Numbers, A Pack Of Peculiar Numbers Pedro Pisa Picked

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


A slightly different Friday post this holiday week. It reads a bit like a tongue-twister, but it’s actually more of a number twister.  

Instead of the usual Friday Factoid for those interested in numbers, how about a magic equation from an unlikely source?

The unlikely source was ‘Scripta Mathematica’, a quarterly journal published by Yeshiva University from 1932 until 1973, and devoted to the philosophy, history, and expository treatment of mathematics. It was said to be, “the only mathematical magazine in the world edited by specialists for laymen.”

Never destined to be a best seller, it did however produce a few interesting tidbits for laypersons interested in, or fascinated by, mathematics or numbers.

One of these was in its March 1955 edition, when it published an article from someone named, Pedro A. Pisa who had picked a pack of peculiar numbers and formed them into a most curious equation.

The equation was simply this,  


123,789  +  561,945  +  642,864  =  242,868  +  323,787  +  761,943


On the face of it there is nothing spectacular here. This just an ordinary looking and fairly simple arithmetic equation.

Ordinary, except for the fact that you could remove many of the terms, from either end of this equation, and it still worked.

For example,

Pedro A. Pisa equation


Ordinary, except you could remove the two center digits from each term, and it still balanced.

For example


1289  +  5645  +  6464  =  2468  +  3287  +  7643


You could even repeat this process and it still worked:


19  +  55  +  64  =  28  +  37  +  73



And ordinary but perhaps most amazing of all, you could square every term above, in every equation, and they will still all remain true.


And it was all figured out by a someone called Pedro A Pisa.