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It’s Christmas Day

December 1955: Pupils of Alderwood Junior Mixed School, Eltham, acting the crib scene of their nativity play, part of their Christmas concert. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

It’s finally here. Shopping is behind us; the bird is in the oven, presents under the tree, holiday music on the CD player and children bubbling over with excitement about Santa’s yearly visit. Here are some interesting facts about Christmas that you might have overlooked in all the excitement.

  • Christmas cards: They’ve been around forever it seems but the very first commercial Christmas card was made and sold in London in 1843. American’s alone send about 1.5 billion Christmas cards each year.
  • Christmas Songs: Christmas songs go way back as well. “Deck the Halls” dates back to the late 1700’s and folks first heard “Jingle Bells” in 1857.
  • Christmas Trees: Most everyone is familiar with the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City. The tallest tree ever placed there happened in 1999. A 100-foot Norway spruce was trucked in from Connecticut.
    Decorating the tree can get expensive. So how much did the most expensive decorations ever cost?? A cool $11 million on a Christmas tree from the United Arab Emirates in 2010.
    Americans purchase between 25 and 30 million live trees each year and 8-12 million artificial trees for their holiday celebration.
  • Gift Giving: Many religious beliefs have had a profound effect on Christmas over the years. The Catholic Church banned gift giving believing it was Paganism. Thankfully they revised that thinking or there would be a lot of unhappy kids out there.
  • Christmas Cities: There are two cities in the US named “Santa Claus.” Those would be located in Georgia and Indiana. You would also find the city of “North Pole” in Alaska.
  • Christmas Dates: Alabama was the first state to officially recognize Christmas in the United States in 1836. Oklahoma was the last in 1907. Christmas became a federal holiday on June 26, 1870.
  • Christmas Commercialism: There is no question that Christmas is a commercial holiday. Billions of dollars change hands during the Christmas feeding frenzy. Christmas shopping amounts to 1/6th of the entire US economy. So much for recessions.

Some Final Thoughts

The commercialism of Christmas often overtakes the true “reason for the season.” As all Christians know, December 25th is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Was he actually born on this day 2,013 years ago? Probably not. But, Christians still mark this day as a very special religious event.

The real benefit of Christmas is our feelings for one another. We seem to be a little kinder to each other, a little more generous than we might otherwise be. And for those of us who are a little older we get to relive the magic of Christmas through the eyes of our children.

As much as we’d all like those feelings to continue throughout the year we’ll most likely return to our old nasty selves some time in early January. But maybe some of us can continue those feelings enough to rub off on others for the next 11 months. Perhaps you might be one of those people.

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