5 facts about Christmas that might surprise you
Are you spending Christmas with the family and do you want to impress your relatives with your knowledge? By way of exception, we at the IUBH have put together a series of facts that won’t be of any use to you in your future professional life: 5 useless – but nevertheless interesting – facts about the “Feast of Love.”
1. Hardly anyone knows why Christmas is celebrated.
There are no easy answers as to why Christmas is celebrated at all or why on this specific date. One explanation goes like this: Christmas is simply a solstice festival. Long before Christianity existed, other cultures such as the Romans, Egyptians and Teutons celebrated the birthdays of their respective sun gods around the time of the winter solstice. Accordingly, church leaders tried to ban the festival around 400 AD. However, the custom was already too deeply rooted in society. So they quickly declared the winter solstice to be the birthday of Jesus Christ (the date of which, conveniently, is not clearly documented) and were thus following a very old tradition. The fact that it fell on December 25th and 26th instead of the 21st or 22nd, the dates of the actual solstice, may be explained by the inaccuracy of the calendar at that time.
2. Santa Claus was not invented by Coca-Cola.
He is actually based on St. Nicholas of Myra, a very generous saint who lived and performed good deeds and miracles in 4 AD. To this day he is commemorated on the day of his death, December 6th. The Dutch call him Sinterclaas and it was they who brought the tradition to America, where the name eventually became Santa Claus. But before that, the tradition of exchanging gifts had been transferred to Christmas during the Reformation and so Santa Claus was created in parallel to St. Nicholas. Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote his famous poem “Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann” as long ago as 1835. The songs “Up on the housetop” and “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” likewise date from the mid-19th century. From 1931 Coca-Cola used Santa Claus for Christmas advertising every year. The drawings were by Haddon Sundblom, who based them on a close friend’s appearance and dressed him in a Coca-Cola red coat. And so the rumour gradually spread that Santa Claus was an invention by Coca-Cola and a symbol of excessive consumerism and materialism.
3. Germans will apparently be largely satisfied with their gifts in 2019.
According to the Christmas survey by Deloitte, most women want sweets (49%), gift vouchers (44%), books (42%) and cosmetics/perfumes (39%) for Christmas. Most men have gift vouchers (40%), money (38%), books (38%) and sweets (36%) on their mental wish list. The top four gifts for 2019 will remain the same as they were in 2018. A happy coincidence; when asked what they planned to give as presents this year, most people answered: Gift vouchers (41%), sweets (39%) and books (38%).
4. The festival of love is often the end of love.
Divorce lawyers celebrate a boom after Christmas and the Internet search statistics for divorce law and maintenance calculators are said to double after Christmas. This could be related to the pre-Christmas stress and pressure of expectations, but also to the bouts of reflection that many people probably experience at the year’s change. However, researchers from the United States found in a study at the beginning of the millennium that couples who decorate the tree and their home together for Christmas are happier in their marriage. From this they drew the somewhat hasty conclusion that couples only had to decorate together to avert the threat of a January separation. However, this is putting the cart before the horse. Looked at the other way round, you might conclude with some degree of certainty that if you see a couple decorating the tree together, their marriage will probably survive the festival of love.
5. Christmas is not celebrated most excessively in Europe or America.
No, actually they do that in Asia. The longest and most elaborate Christmas celebrations are in the Philippines. The festivities already start there in September and last until January. During this time Christmas carols can be heard on every street corner and everything is festively decorated. In the Philippines, the focus of Christmas is still very much on the Christian faith. Many Catholic masses take place in the former Spanish colony, for example the “Simbang Gabi”, nine services at four o’clock in the morning from December 16th to 24th. And in all other respects Christmas in the Philippines is very different to ours.