Here are some facts about Christmas.
- Christmas has been celebrated for over 2,000 years to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. However, long before Jesus was born, the middle of winter has traditionally been a time for celebration.
- In the United States, Christmas has been a recognized holiday since 1870. An estimated 2.1 billion people around the world celebrate the holiday in some way.
- Christmas is a huge holiday in the UK, Europe and the US, and it is also celebrated around the world in countries such as Brazil, China, India and Nigeria.
- Christmas puddings originated in old England, when hunters carried the filling mixture on long journeys. In the 1700s the rich cake was only eaten on special occasions. Over time it became a Christmas food.
- The first Christmas card was printed in London in 1843, although medieval wood prints with seasonal themes were produced in the Middle Ages. Nearly 2 billion cards are sent in the UK each year.
- Father Christmas is based on St. Nicholas, a 4th century Turkish monk who gave gifts to the poor. In the mid 19th century, a magazine published pictures of him wearing a red and white robe, and with a white beard.
- Christmas was banned in mid-17th century England, by Oliver Cromwell. It was also banned in Boston by early colonists, with anyone celebrating being fined 5 shillings.
- Norway has given Britain the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square every year since 1947 as a gift for the help received from Britain during World War 2. The tree can be 20 metres tall.
- In old England, a pig’s head with mustard was the traditional Christmas meal. The custom of putting coins in Christmas pudding originally represented the Wise Men’s 3 gifts.
- The idea of Christmas stockings comes from the story of St. Nicholas filling old socks with gold for three poor sisters. One of the largest stockings was made in London in 2007 – it was 32 metres long!
What next? Discover more Christmas facts by visiting our Christmas resources page.