The holidays are drawing closer, and that means it’s time to finish up your shopping and trim your tree. It’s been another long year, so you may need an extra dose of  festive spirit this season. If that’s the case, read on for five fun Christmas facts that’ll fill you—and anyone you’re chatting with—with the magic of the holidays!

So whether it’s tucking into a delicious mince pie or puckering up under the mistletoe, at some point this Christmas season many of us will embrace the numerous traditions related to this time of the year, but where do these age-old customs and familiar images come from and which is your favourite?

Christmas Day – While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the actual date is lost to history. There is no mention of December 25th anywhere in the Bible, in fact there is no mention of when Jesus was born at all.  A long time ago Pope Julius I decided that Christmas should be celebrated on 25th December many historians believe it was originally chosen because it coincided with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which honored the agricultural god Saturn with celebrating and gift-giving.

Mistletoe–  Is thought to have been taken from the Anglo Saxon word mistletan meaning ‘dung twig’,  Mistle thrush birds eat the plant’s berries, digest the seed and then help the plant germinate with their droppings -ewww!  However it is also considered a symbol of fertility, virility and new life.  In some way these beliefs eventually led to the custom of kissing under the mistletoe during the Christmas period. This tradition became increasingly popular in Victorian England, when men would look to steal a kiss from any woman seen lingering beneath a sprig of mistletoe. A refusal was seen as bad luck.

Mince Pies –  Mince pies actually used to contain meat! Medieval people during the 16th century believed that if you ate a mince pie every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (5th January), you’d have happiness for the next 12 months. These pies were known as Christmas Pyes, and contained anything from rabbit to mutton, pigeon to pheasant! They were larger than their modern creations and made into an oval shape, which was said to represent Jesus’ crib.

Christmas Crackers – During the late 1840s, a London sweet maker named Tom Smith sat by a crackling log fire and imagined how fun it would be if his wrapped sweets made the same sound when opened. A short time later, ‘Cosaques’, a log shaped sweet package with a surprise crackle element inside, were put on the market. The public came to know them as crackers and by the early 20th century, hats, jokes and various trinkets had replaced the sweets inside them.

Tinsel – Throwing some tinsel on your Christmas tree is a quick and inexpensive way to jazz up your home and has been for years. However, it used to be a much pricier adornment. It is thought, tinsel has it’s origins in the early 1600’s in Nuremberg, Germany, where people used thin strands of real silver in their trees to reflect candlelight, as they used to put real candles in their trees,  and since silver was expensive, being able to use tinsel in your tree was something of a status symbol.

I hope you all have a happy, jolly and safe festive season – see you in the New Year!

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