December 2007

It Could Be Worse: Christmas Trivia Edition

Author: Craig Hysell

It’s not something you really notice at first. It’s not the biggest gift in the brightest wrapping paper sitting under the tree. It’s more like that surprise present, sitting in the last place you would think to look, which you somehow like the most this year. And, much like Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, you’ve got to be careful with what you’re holding or you could shoot your eye out.

“It Could Be Worse: Christmas Trivia Edition” is not about ignoring Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Festivus or any other of the myriad holidays that have been happening for millennia in December. It is not about exclusion in any way, shape or form, just as it isn’t about being the biggest or baddest present of the year. Rather it is an invitation into some fun, interesting and perhaps even astonishing trivia that can make this year’s holiday feast a bit more special, no matter what aspect of giving, caring and charity you may be celebrating.

When it comes down to it, and we sift through all the labels, traditions and political correctness, maybe what we are all really embracing in December is simply the fact that it’s nice to be together… that it’s nice to have one another.

So unwrap your sense of humor, pull up some fruitcake and prepare to be entertained. No matter who you are, where you are or what you’re celebrating this year, it could be worse; You could’ve been triple dog dared into putting your tongue on an ice-cold flag pole. (Yes, it will stick.)

Note: If you have not seen A Christmas Story, you are missing a priceless holiday movie that ranks in that upper It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol echelon. And you’ve been living under a rock.

•If you want to liven up this year’s family feast, try a game of “Hot Cockles.” In medieval times players of Hot Cockles took turns at striking a blindfolded player who had to guess the name of each person delivering the blow. Seriously. Perhaps getting medieval this holiday season with loved ones could be the gift that keeps giving all year long.

•Charles Dickens thought of using Little Larry, Puny Pete or Small Sam before settling on the character of Tiny Tim in his book, A Christmas Carol. God bless us, everyone.

•According to historical accounts, Christmas in the Philippines was celebrated between 1280 and 1320 A.D.—200 years before Magellan discovered it for the Western world.

•On Christmas Eve night in 1776, with many of his troops standing barefoot in the snow and freezing to death, George Washington crossed the icy Delaware with his men to record a key moral victory in the first year of The Revolutionary War.

•In 1836, Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday, possibly becoming the first time the state of Alabama was first at doing anything. Oklahoma was the last in 1907.

•During the Roman period, in an effort to increase conversion to Christianity, Pope Julius I moved Christmas to December 25 to coincide with the pagan rituals of the winter solstice.

•During the Christmas season, Visa cards are run an average of 5,340 times per minute; more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the U.S.; and many retailers make up to 70 percent of their annual revenue during the month of December. Not even The Grinch could steal all that Christmas.

•In 2002, Oregon was the leading producer of Christmas trees with 6.5 million. Twenty-one percent of the U.S. had real Christmas trees, 48 percent had artificial ones and 32 percent had no tree at all. Trees that don’t measure up to industry standards are called Charlie Browns.

•According to tradition, putting a lump of coal in the stockings of naughty children comes from Italy. Tony Soprano holds the record.

•Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939, by Robert L. May, as a promotional gimmick for Montgomery Ward. May’s boss almost didn’t recall the most famous reindeer of all. He believed Rudolph’s red nose would be associated with drunkards and hesitated to run the story.

•Gift givers come in all shapes and sizes across the world. The Christkind (a beautiful girl with a crown of shining candles) visits Germany; a witch named La Befana travels through Italy; and Scandanavia’s gift givers are Christmas gnomes who spend the off-season as stunt doubles in Travelocity commercials.

•Clement C. Moore’s 1822 poem, A Visit from St. Nick, (and the artistry that went with it) is credited with creating the modern day image of Santa Claus. The poem was later re-titled ’Twas The Night Before Christmas.

•Isaac Newton, Clara Barton, Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Buffett were all born on Christmas Day.

All facts were gleaned from and

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