AmeriCamp’s famous T-shirt maybe red, but America has a lot to answer for when it comes to changing the history of Xmas and the famous St Nick.
Festive habits of yesteryear have gradually been confined to the history books, with Christmas deviating from familiar traditions; as the festive glow of Christmas trees begin to illuminate homes worldwide, thus marking the beginning of the Christmas season, here are 10 fun facts about Christmas stateside:
Santa hasn’t always worn his trademark red outfit:
The attire we’ve come to love since childhood was originally green and white and was altered as part of a 1930’s advertising campaign by Coca-Cola!
Rudolph was almost called Reginald:
Since childhood, we’ve become accustomed with Rudolph and his red nose. However, the adorable reindeer was almost christened Reginald by Illinois-based copywriter Robert L. May, who decided to invent the oddball reindeer as a gimmick in 1939 for a range of Montgomery Ward coloring books. May considered calling Rudolph Reginald or Rollo, before opting for the now famous name of Rudolph. Moreover, his nose wasn’t going to be red, as a red nose was considered a sign of alcoholism and publishers Montgomery Ward didn’t want the character to be presented as a drunkard!
Jingle Bells was originally a Thanksgiving song:
At a Thanksgiving concert in the 19th Century, Georgian born organist James Lord Pierpont performed, “The One Horse Open Sleigh,” at his church’s Thanksgiving concert. He wrote the song and it was re-published in 1857 with the more recognizable title Jingle Bells. Plus, on December 16th 1965, the song became the first song broadcast from space, when the Gemini 6 crew serenaded Mission Control after they reported seeing a “red-suited” astronaut.
At least 15,000 people are sent to ER over Christmas:
Christmas is viewed as a wholly positive time of year, whereby optimism is reigns supreme. However, at least 15,000 casualties are reported each year, with precarious balance whilst hanging Christmas lights and clumsiness when taking the turkey out of the oven contributing to the thousands of Christmas calamities. Moreover, dried Christmas trees spark hundreds of fires, an average of 17 deaths, and $13 million in property damage annually; it’d seem ‘tis the season to be clumsy!
Washington Irving created Santa’s ride:
Though Washington Irving is often affiliated with more gothic works, with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow instilling a sense of dread amongst literary horror fans, he is also the genius behind the idea of Santa’s flying sleigh. In The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, a series of short stories published in 1819, Irving recalls a dream whereby Santa is flying across the sky in a wagon. Legend has it, that his stories proved so popular, that they inspired a bout of Christmas fever in the USA and England, with the stories acting as inspiration for Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.
Will the real Santa Claus please stand up?
There are roughly 20,000 ‘rent-a-Santas’ across the United States every year. ‘Rent-a-Santas’ undergo a series of intense training over the festive period on how to maintain a jovial attitude whilst working under pressure from the public. Additionally, they also receive practical advice, such as not accepting money from parents while star-struck children are looking and avoiding garlic, onions, or beans for lunch!
Alabama is America’s Sweet Home of Christmas:
Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in the United States, with millions of people unwrapping presents and celebrating the birth of Christ in each of the countries fifty-states. However, Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836, prior to the spread of the festivities in years since.
Santa Claus is based on a real person:
Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra (Nikolaos the Wonderworker, Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, and Nikolaos of Bari), who lived during the fourth century. Born in Patara (in modern-day Turkey), he is the world’s most popular non-Biblical saint, and artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint, with the exception of the Virgin Mary. He is the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, pirating, butchery, sailing, thievery, orphans, royalty, and America’s most-loved urban metropolis, New York City.
Nobody knows which President put up the first White House Christmas tree:
Each year, it is traditional practice for the President of the United States to have a Christmas tree shining brightly in the window of the White House; however, despite the long-established tradition, it is unclear as to who the first President was to embrace the festive décor. There are two opposing claims as to which President was the first to place a Christmas tree in the White House. While some historians are insistent that President Franklin Pierce did in 1856, some have contested this claim, suggesting that President Benjamin Harrison introduced the tradition in 1889. However, it has been established that President Coolidge started the White House lighting ceremony in 1923.
Americans love Lego at Christmas:
Americans love to shop and will dig out a bargain if there’s one lurking, (Black Friday is testament to their passion for spending!) Such is the amount of money invested in stores over the Christmas period that festive purchases account for one-sixth of annual US sales. In fact, over the Christmas period, a stunning twenty-eight sets of Lego are sold every second!