christmas facts

  • How Did Red & Green Become Traditional Christmas Colors?

    Have red and green always been part of Christmas tradition? The answer may surprise you.

    Why Red & Green Are Christmas Colors

    From poinsettias to Christmas stockings hung by the fire with care, the Christmas season is dripping with vibrant reds and greens as far as the eye can see. But how did red and green become the signature color combination of Christmas?

    Like many Christmas traditions, the history of why greens and reds are associated with the season is storied and debated. In this piece, we highlight the origin stories—one of which will undoubtedly surprise you.

    “Holly Jolly” Inspiration from Ancient Pagans

    While the Christmas holiday itself is rooted in religion, there are several pagan infusions that have shaped how we celebrate. And as some report, the greens and reds are one of those hybrid traditions—thanks to holly plants.

    As Reader’s Digest reports: “Ancient Celtic peoples revered red- and green-colored holly plants for being evergreen and believed holly was meant to keep Earth beautiful during the dead of winter. So when they and other cultures celebrated the winter solstice, they decorated their homes with holly to bring protection and good luck to their families in the coming year.”

    It’s also been reported that ancient Romans used holly as part of their winter solstice celebrations, too.

    The Crown of Thorns

    Holly actually plays a double role in the history of this tradition. Holly is closely associated with the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head before he died on the cross. As a fun fact, holly is known as “christdorn” in German, which means “Christ thorn.”

    Legend says the berries were originally white, but the blood Jesus shed for our sins forever stained the berries red.

    The Paradise Play

    This explanation is one of the more colorful (pun intended) theories.

    But as David Landry, who religious studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, told a local news station, he believes red and green likely became part of tradition thanks to a 14th century play depicting the world’s first man and woman.

    “One of these plays was the Paradise play—the fall of Adam and Eve,” he told the station. “The traditional date for that was Dec. 24.”

    More specifically, the storied apple prop was red, and of course, the tree was green.

    Coca-Cola’s Iconic Santa Claus

    Arielle Eckstut, co-author of Secret Language of Color, has spoken to many publications about the Christmas colors origin stories. She attributes the rise of the colors to two things. The first is holly.

    "Holly has played a huge part in this red and green association," she told NPR with confidence.

    As for her second theory, that one’s more interesting, dating back to a Coca-Cola hiring decision in 1931.

    “Coca-Cola hired an artist to create a Santa Claus," Arielle said in an interview with NPR. "They had done this before, but this particular artist created a Santa Claus that we associate with the Santa Claus today in many ways: He was fat and jolly—whereas before he was often thin and elf-like—and he had red robes.”

    “It solidified in our collective imaginations the red of Santa's robes with the green of fir trees and holly and [poinsettia] that we already had in our minds,” she added.

    According to NPR, that artist was Haddon Sundblom. Since his art was such a bit hit, Coca-Cola continued working with him for decades.

    Photo Credit: Coca-Cola via Miel Van Opstal/Flickr

    Colorful Threads of the Same Fabric—That’s Tradition

    Every tradition we hold dear has a variety of influences and evolves over time—and the signature colors of Christmas are no exception.

    While there’s no one agreed upon point of origin, it’s safe to say that every theory has shaped the overall story of the colors of Christmas. And at the end of the day, it’s simply tradition.

    What long-time or unique Christmas traditions does your family honor each year? Tell us in the comments section below.  

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  • What Do You Give to Santa?

    Here in the United States and Canada, a plate of cookies with a glass of milk is the usual snack left out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Just in case you don't have all your cookies baked (or bought!), how about one of these cute reindeer options? A friend of mine made the peanut butter cookie version, and they are just as cute as the picture shows. The second option would be quicker if you're pressed for time, or if you want a kid-friendly project.

    Blogger MamaLisa describes a few other global traditions for Santa's treats. In England it's a piece of minced pie with a glass of sherry. And no big surprise, but in Ireland, the big guy might get a pint of Guinness!

    You could modify that Irish tradition with these "reinbeers". They would make a cute gift for anyone but please use the root beer version for Santa. He'll be driving the sleigh all night, after all!

    When I was growing up, we usually left out a few carrots for the reindeer. Kelle Hampton shares a tradition of making a special mix of oats, bread crumbs and other ingredients to sprinkle on the driveway for the reindeer to enjoy while Santa is inside (definitely check out the entire post for her magical kids' Christmas party!).

    It's always fun to leave a little note for Santa - try a chalkboard version this year. I remember loving the return note that we would receive, thanking us for the cookies. It was even better when I was old enough to recognize my dad's handwriting, but could keep the secret for my youngest siblings.

    And no matter what you're giving to the big guy, make sure you've got the stockings ready for him to fill! Wednesday, December 19 is the 2012 ordering deadline to receive your personalized stockings from Merry Stockings in time for Christmas Eve.

  • Christmas Traditions Clarified, Part III takes a look at Christmas traditions and how they came to be practiced here in the United States. Earlier traditons we have looked at included the practice of sending out Christmas cards, decorating with boughs of holly, kissing under the mistletoe and hanging Christmas stockings.


    A lot of houses in the United States usually have potted poinsettias during the Christmas season. The beautiful plant makes a great Christmas decoration around the home with its bright red leaves set against equally splendid green leaves.

    This Mexican plant was used by Franciscans during their own Christmas celebrations. Legend has it that a young boy saw the poinsettia plant on his way to visit the village Nativity scene. When he realized that he had no gift for the Christ child, the boy gathered green leaves that he offered as a gift. Miraculously, as he put them on the manger, beautiful red leaves sprouted on each branch.

    The plant was brought to America by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Joel Poinsett in the 1820s.

    Christmas Trees

    Christmas trees go as far back to the 16th century when Germans decorated fir trees with apples, candies, roses, and colored paper. Similar trees were also regular fixtures of a popular play performed during the Middle Ages, which was mostly performed during Advent.

    Martin Luther was said to be the originator of the practice of putting lights on trees, having been inspired by the beauty of stars whose lights shone through fir branches.

    But the practice of having a Christmas tree during the season was started when the U.K.'s royal family was depicted in an 1848 Illustrated News etching gathered around a Christmas tree in windsor Castle. Prince Albert and Queen victoria's Christmas tree soon inspired Victorian England to put up similar trees.

    This practice was later brought to the U.S. by Germans settling in Pennsylvania.

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  • Christmas Around the World: Austria

    Christmas in Vienna starts on December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas. On this day, St. Nicholas goes out and rewards children with toys, candies, fruits and nuts. At the same time, Krampus, a devil goes around with Santa Claus and punish the bad children.

    While Krampus is a creature that is found in many other European countries such as Croatia and Hungary, it is only in Austria where people dress up as Krampus and roam the streets on December 5. To read more about other weird and unusual Christmas traditions observed around the world, click here.

    Christmas trees play a significant role in Austrian Christmases. Typically set up on Christmas eve, these trees are not lit until the coming of the Christ Child who gives gifts to the children. Here we see a fundamental difference in Austrian Christmases. Whereas other countries perpetuate the belief that it is Santa Claus that brings gifts, Austrian youngsters believe that it is Christkind or the Christ Child who brings the gifts to them. The Christkind is also credited with decorating the Christmas tree.

    Most people stay at home to spend Christmas eve with their families, and the ligthing of the Christmas tree is one important highlight. They also sing "Silent Night, Holy Night" among other Christmas carols.

    How about a Christmas in Austria trivia? Did you know that the Christmas song "Silent Night" was first heard in an Austrian village named Oberndorf. It is said that in 1818, the parish priest of Oberndorf realized that the organ was not working, so he consulted an organist named Franz Bauer the newly written Silent Night. Bauer was able to come up with a melody for it using the guitar as an accompaniment.

    Baked carp is the traditional staple for Christmas feasts.

    Christmas in Austria is also marked by the opening of the Christmas markets. It is said that the Christmas market in Vienna traces its roots back to the year 1298. These Christmas markets are found in every town, often very near to the churches. It is considered to be one of the longest standing Christmas traditions in Austria.

    Make the Christmas trees of your Austrian friends much better with's best selections of personalized Christmas ornaments.

  • Christmas Around the World: Norway

    Gledelig Jul!

    That's Merry Christmas in Norway. If you find that hard to pronounce, you can use the shortened version, God Jul. The Christmas season in Norway starts on December 13 during the feast of St. Lucia. This ceremony is marked by each family's youngest daughter donning a white robe, carrying a candle and wearing an evergreen crown. These little girls wake their parents up and serve them coffee and lussekatter (Lucia buns).

    Norwegian children prepare bowls of porridge for the Nisse, an elf or a gnome that is said to have goat like features. It is said that the Nisse will play tricks on children who neglect the porridge. Norway also has their own version of Santa Claus, whom they call the Julenisse or Christmas Nisse. The Julenisse gives kids their gifts himself.

    Norwegians often gather in the living room for a telling of Carpenter Andersen, which was written by Alf Proysen. Carpenter Andersen is the most popular Christmas story in the country and have been adapted many times into TV movies.

    Christmas Decorations

    Norwegian homes at Christmas time often put up a pine or spruce tree in their living rooms to serve as a Christmas tree. Children adorn these tress with paper baskets fashioned out of shiny paper in different colors. These baskets are then filled with nuts or candies. Another popular Christmas decoration is the paper chain and Christmas lights.

    Food and Festivities

    What is Christmas without the abundance of food? Families in Norway often gather on Christmas eve or Christmas day to share a feast. This almost always includes a rib of lamb that has been salted and dried. This rib is sometimes served with sausages, turnip, potatoes and mustard. Of course, rice porridge is also prepared for the children's offering to the Nisse.

    And then there is the sand kager, which is a favorite Norwegian holiday cookie. allows you to send special and personalized holiday cards and holiday ornaments to your friends in Norway. Send them something special and close to their hearts this Christmas like a holiday greeting card with your picture on it!

  • Why Do We Give Gifts During Christmas?

    Gift giving has been an enduring tradition during Christmas time.  So much so, that many are bewailing and lamenting the commercialization of Christmas, especially in recent years.  But you could not and should not stop people from buying gifts for friends, family and loved ones.  This is one Christmas tradition that is rooted deeply in our culture and psyche.

    In fact, it is very difficult to think about Christmas without thinking about gift giving.  Even Christmas decorations, Christmas cards and other things that have something to do with Christmas often have gifts as designs.  And Christmas is still the busiest shopping day in the United States.

    So why do we give gifts during Christmas?

    For Christians, gift giving is a way to symbolize the gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold that was given by the Three Wise Men to the Baby Jesus in the manger.  It was traditionally done every January 6, but was soon transferred to Christmas Day.

    For others, gift giving goes with the image of Santa Claus.  He rewards good children for being nice the whole year round by giving them toys, candies and other gifts.

    No matter how gift giving started, what matters is why we gifts nowadays.  For some of us, it is our way of sharing our blessings.  It is a way of giving back to other people all the blessing we have gotten for the year that is going to end.  For others, it is a way to show their love and remembrance.  Giving a gift is tantamount to saying that you are being remembered and you mean something to the giver.  Still others just find joy in giving gifts to family and friends.  This is especially true for giving gifts to children.  Remember how light your heart felt when you saw a kid's eyes light up at the sight of the gift he received?

  • Top 7 Things You Probably Don't Know about Holiday Cards

    Today, it is very common to send and receive Christmas cards.  It is one of the most cherished Christmas tradition that helps us keep in contact with friends and family, while also making them feel important to us. have compiled some interesting facts about Christmas cards.  Here are the top 7 things you probably do not know about Christmas cards.

    1. Christmas cards are the highest selling seasonal cards, cornering 60% of that market.  Among all cards, Christmas cards sell as high as birthday cards.  This is rather astonishing and shows that the Christmas card market is a lucrative one, considering that:

    • Americans buy around 7 billion greeting cards per year
    • The greeting cards sector is a $7.5 billion industry, and
    • More than 9 out of 10 households buy greeting cards.  The average household buy around 30 cards yearly.

    Also, take into consideration that greeting cards can cost from 50 cents to around $10!

    2. The average individual gets more than 20 cards per year.  One third of these are birthday cards and another third are Christmas cards!

    3. Ninety percent of Americans love getting cards and letters, because it makes them feel special and remembered, while also allowing them to keep in touch.

    4. Henry Cole commissioned the first-ever commercial Christmas greeting card in 1843.  The card was designed by John Horsley.

    5. Americans had to import Christmas cards from England for the first thirty years.

    6. Louis Prang, a German immigrant in the United States, published the first U.S. Christmas cards in 1875.  His business became so successful that he was creating 5 million cards a year by 1881!

    7. Hallmark says that more than 1.8 billion Christmas cards are sent out every year, including personalized Christmas cards.  This is more than 10 times more than the 152 million cards sent on Valentine's Day and 141 million cards sent on Mother's Day.

  • Top 13 Interesting Christmas Facts

    Here are some fun facts and trivia that should start some interesting discussions over Christmas dinner. gives you its Top 13 Fun Facts about Christmas that you could use to amaze your friends and your family!


    1. Christmas is actually a shortening of Christ's Mass.
    2. The first artificial Christmas trees were seen in Germany.  They gathered goose feathers and formed it into a tree after dyeing it green.
    3. The wildly popular Christmas song, "Jingle Bells", was not originally meant as a Christmas song.  It was actually written for Thanksgiving!
    4. If you true love did send you all those gifts mentioned in the Twelve Days of Christmas, you'd have enough gifts to last you a year.
    5. Christmas is sometimes depicted as Xmas.  This is because X in Greek means Christ.
    6. Thinking about a Christmas gift for a loved one?  Try diamonds.  More people buy diamonds around Christmas time than any other time of the year, including Valentine's Day.
    7. More Christmas gift buying facts:  Visa reported that during the Christmas season, their cards are used more than 5,300 time per minute.
    8. Still on gifts, did you know that 70% of all British dogs get a Christmas gift from their owners?
    9. The busiest shopping day of the year is not Black Friday, but the Saturday before Christmas.
    10. If you are looking for good uses for the good old Christmas tree after the holidays are through, then you can consider eating it.  A lot of the parts of a pine tree are actually edible.
    11. Famous people who celebrates the same birthday as Jesus Christ includes Isaac Newton, Humphrey Bogart, Cab Calloway, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, Rod Serling, Sissy Spacek, Armin van Buuren, Dido, Annie Lennox and Jimmy Buffett.
    12. Emperor Yoshihito of Japan, W.C. Fields, Johnny Ace, Frederick Law Olmsted, Charlie Chaplin, and Dean Martin are just some of the famous people who died on Christmas Day.
    13. A lovely story of generosity, Christmas stockings were said to have caught the pouches of gold coins that St. Nicholas gave three young maidens.  This legend started the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings.

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