Lets Play a Round of Christmas, True or False?

SEASONAL

Abi Luftig

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

It's the most wonderful time of the year, but how well do you really know the Yuletide holiday? Test your knowledge of these obscure facts - or are they fiction?

The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days leading up to December 25.

In most Western traditions, the twelve days of Christmas are December 25th-January 5th. It is believed that these twelve days are the twelve days it took the Wise Men to reach the Nativity.

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The very British tradition of pulling Christmas crackers actually began in America.

Try as we might, we Yanks can't take credit for everything awesome. As you might imagine, the British tradition of pulling Christmas crackers did, in fact, originate in Great Britain. Crackers were developed in London in 1847, by a candymaker named Tom Smith.

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Christmas crackers have a paper bracelet that you wear if you win the pull.

Christmas crackers actually have a paper crown inside, which the winner of the pull wears on their head. Crackers also include jokes and knick-knacks of various value, depending on how expensive the crackers are.

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Alabama was the last state to officially recognize Christmas as a holiday.

Alabama was, in fact, the very first state to recognize Christmas as a holiday, having done so in 1836. Oklahoma was the last state to legally recognize the holiday, in 1907.

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Approximately 15,000 people will visit the E.R. because of Christmas.

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also statistically the most dangerous. Falling off ladders while hanging decorations, cooking burns, food poisoning, and a multitude of other holiday mishaps send an average of 15,000 people a year to the emergency room throughout November and December.

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Santa gets milk and cookies worldwide.

Strange as it may seem, Santa tends to only get milk and cookies from the US and Canada. In Britain, Ireland, and Austraila, he is given beer or sherry and mince pies. In Scandinavia, children leave out bowls of rice porridge with cinnamon sugar on top.

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The US is the leading exporter of Christmas trees.

The US is pretty high on the list, but the world's leading exporter of Christmas trees is actually Canada. They owe this honor to the province of Nova Scotia, which is also the world's leading exporter of lobsters and wild blueberries.

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The Puritans are credited with creating the first Christmas carol.

Puritans believed that Christmas celebrations and Christmas songs were a wasteful tradition that favored the Roman Catholic Church and threatened their beliefs. Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell motivated Parliment to pass an act banning Christmas festivities in 1644.

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British television only broadcasts one speech on Christmas day.

While the best-known address is the Queen's Christmas Message (which is watched by an average of 7 million people every year), it is no longer the only address broadcast on British telly. Channel 4 began broadcasting The Alternative Christmas Message in 1993 as a way of letting other (non-royal) points of view be heard. Previous presenters of the Alternative Message have included Sharon Osborne, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Edward Snowden.

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The three wise men were not kings.

The song, We Three Kings, tends to confuse a lot of folks by leading them to believe that the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) were the aforementioned kings. However, this is not true. Magi, or wise men, were advisors to kings and often had a background in mystical or magical traditions. They may have been astrologers.

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A South African tradition is to eat deep-fried caterpillars on Christmas Day.

It's unclear how this tradition started or why it has continued, but it's tradition in some parts of South Africa to eat deep-fried caterpillars on Christmas Day. The caterpillars are emperor moths.

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President Teddy Roosevelt banned Christmas trees in the White House.

Teddy Roosevelt was, among other things, a staunch environmentalist - he objected to the practice of cutting down trees purely for decoration. In 1901, he banned Christmas trees in the White House (although his son Archie defied his orders and smuggled a tiny tree, which was hidden in a closet).

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Jingle Bell Rock is the most recorded Christmas song in history.

There have been approximately 35 versions of Jingle Bell Rock. The song with the most versions, according to Time Magazine, is Silent Night, which has been recorded over 700 times since 1978.

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Every year for Christmas, a town in Sweden builds a giant straw goat that gets burned down.

People all over Sweden often build yule goats out of straw, but one has become famous for its inability to stay unlit. Every year, the town of Gävle, Sweden, builds a giant straw yule goat that is roughly 45 feet tall, and nearly every year it gets vandalized in arson attacks. Despite the best efforts of local law enforcement, the goat has been damaged 37 times as of December 2016. Strangely, no one has ever suggested NOT rebuilding the flammable straw goat.

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created to promote coloring books.

Sad but true. The misfit reindeer was created in 1939 by artist Robert Lewis May as a commission for Montgomery Ward to give out in their retail stores. Rudolph's red nose almost got rejected because at the time, it was seen as a common sign of alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn't want to be seen as promoting this. May changed their minds and the rest is history.

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KFC is the most popular Christmas meal in Japan.

Another example of strange but true, KFC is the most popular Christmas meal in Japan. While Christmas is not a national holiday in the largely secular Japan (1% of the population is Christian), people reserve their Christmas KFC meals months in advance. The tradition began in the 1970s.

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Genuine Santas go to school to earn the honor.

While it's not required of everyone who dons a red-and-white suit, professional Santas often attend Santa School in order to perfect their craft. The oldest Santa School is the Charles W. Howard Santa School, which was started by its namesake in 1937. I wonder if FAFSA accepts milk and cookies as payment?

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Santa is a Canadian citizen.

While his official residence remains at the North Pole, Santa was officially awarded Canadian citizenship in 2008. In an official statement by Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, it was announced that "The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete."

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Christmas was banned in Cuba for almost 30 years.

Despite declaring his new government to be atheistic when he came to power, Fidel Castro didn't ban Christmas in the predominantly Catholic Cuba for religious reasons. Instead, he decided in 1969 to ban Christmas in order to make sure all citizens stayed focused on working on the sugar harvest. Castro relented in 1998, due to pressure from the Pope.

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"Xmas" is sacrilegious.

Those who see the abbreviation Xmas as insulting and sacrilegious are not wrong, exactly - they are merely uninformed. The abbreviation harkens back to Christianity's early roots in Greece. X is actually the Greek letter "chi," which is the first letter of Christ's name when written in Greek (Χριστός). Xmas is efficient AND accurate!

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Santa has help in Iceland.

In Icelandic culture, Santa is represented by 13 figures known as the Yule Lads. They began as mischievous and sometimes malevolent creatures, but, in modern times, they have taken over the responsibility for handing out gifts to Icelandic children. They arrive in the 13 days leading up to Christmas and stay for 13 days each.

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Coca-Cola is the reason Santa wears red.

Believe it or not, most depictions of Santa prior to the 1930s show him wearing green or tan robes. While Coke was not the first brand to depict Santa in red, to match their logo, they were the most popular and widespread. Many modern historians agree that, had Coca-Cola not shown Santa in red, the image wouldn't have caught on.

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All I Want for Christmas Is You was co-written by Mariah Carey.

She's not just a pretty face or a powerful voice; Ms. Carey has writing chops as well. Mariah co-wrote most of her hits throughout her career, including the 1994 hit, All I Want for Christmas Is You, which has been covered by at least 40 different artists, including Shania Twain, Fifth Harmony, and My Chemical Romance.

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Red and green are the traditional colors of Christmas.

Red and green are among the traditional Christmas colors, but so is the oft-forgotten gold. Green represents life and rebirth, red represents the blood of Christ, and gold represents light and royalty.

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A traditional Christmas delicacy in Greenland is raw whale skin with blubber still attached.

This meal is known by the Inuit name, mattak (sometimes called muktuk). It's most often from a bowhead whale, but occasionally narwhal and beluga are used.

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Poinsettias are deadly.

Despite its reputation as being fatally toxic to pets and small children, there are no recorded deaths ever being attributed to poinsettias. They are mildly toxic and cause symptoms similar to a bad case of the stomach flu, but there's no proof that eating poinsettias will kill anyone. (Still, best not to risk it.)

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The Christmas tree was invented by St. Boniface.

Many people ascribe the tradition of decorating a pine tree at Christmas to the famous theologian, Martin Luther. However, this is false. The tradition was started by Saint Boniface in 7th-century Germany. Boniface chopped down the legendary Donar's Oak, often called Thor's Oak, as a way to show Vikings that their Norse gods (worshiped through trees) were not real. Boniface's supporters decorated the tree and the tradition stuck.

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In Venezuela, people ride their bikes to church on Christmas morning.

The population of Caracas, Venezuela, is known to roller-skate to church on Christmas morning. It's unclear how the tradition started, but the whole city gets involved. Children are sent to bed early on Christmas Eve to make sure they have enough energy for the trip.

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Christmas trees are a major fire hazard.

The urban legend of Christmas tree fires is well-known, but pretty much unfounded. Yes, there are cases of tree-related fires, but according to the National Fire Protection Association, there are only on average 240 fires per year that involve a Christmas tree. It sounds like a lot at first, but when you consider that millions of trees are sold every year, it's a pretty small chance. Still, best to play it safe and unplug the lights when you're out. (And by the way, Christmas trees caught on fire a lot more back in the days when they were decorated with lit candles!)

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Actual scientific research has been conducted regarding Rudolph's red nose.

Strangely enough, this is actually true. In 1998, Norwegian scientists hypothesized that Rudolph's nose was red as a result of a parasitic infection of the nostrils. Other scientifically plausible theories include alcoholism, a common cold, and a show of overexertion as a result of carrying a heavy sleigh.

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In Poland, spiders and spider webs are common holiday decorations.

Polish legends tell the tale of how spiders wove a blanket for the baby Jesus. Spiders are considered to be symbols of prosperity and goodness in Polish culture.

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December 26th is not a holiday.

December 26th is celebrated (primarily in the UK and Commonwealth nations) as Boxing Day. The tradition began in the 1600s as tradespeople collected boxes of money or gifts as a thank-you for services and goods provided throughout the year. It has evolved into the British version of Black Friday, with retail sales galore!

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Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town climbed to #1 in the charts.

Alas, this is one instance where The Boss did not command the charts. He, along with The E Street Band, recorded their live version of the song in 1975. It wasn't released for a decade, when it was added as the B-side to 1985's My Hometown, which stalled out at #6.

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Santa has his own post code in Canada.

In Canada, where postcodes are alphanumeric, the Postal Service has designated H0H 0H0 (ho ho ho) as the official postcode for letters to Santa. Canada Post volunteers have been helping Santa reply to the letters for over 30 years.

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White Christmas is the best-selling Christmas single of all time.

Guiness World Records has certified that the Irving Berlin classic has sold over 100 million copies. 50 million of those are the Bing Crosby version from 1949. White Christmas has been recorded over 500 times, by artists like Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, and Taylor Swift.

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