In 1836, Alabama became the first state in the USA to declare Christmas a legal holiday. In 1907, Oklahoma became the last USA state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.
The abbreviation of Xmas for Christmas is not irreligious. The first letter of the word Christ in Greek is chi, which is identical to our X. Xmas was originally an ecclesiastical abbreviation that was used in tables and charts. In the early days of printing, when font sizes were limited and type was set by hand, abbreviations and ditto marks were used liberally. Xmas came into general use from the church.
Candy canes began as straight white sticks of sugar candy used to decorate the Christmas trees. A choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral decided to have the ends bent to depict a shepherd's crook and he would pass them out to the children to keep them quiet during the services. It wasn't until about the 20th century that candy canes acquired their red stripes.
Oliver Cromwell, in England banned Christmas Carols between 1649 and 1660. Cromwell thought that Christmas should be a very solemn day so he banned carols and parties. The only celebration was by a sermon and a prayer service.
On Christmas morning since medieval times, church bells have been rung to announce to the world the coming of the savior. It was customary from the 18th century to wear clothes and carry a small bell to signify the birth of Christ. The ringing of the bells was to signify the importance of the His Birth.
Some priests in Australia advise you to say "Happy Christmas", not "Merry Christmas", because Merry has connotations of getting drunk - which brings its own problems. One should say "Happy" instead.
The largest functional Christmas cracker was 45.72 meters long and 3.04 meters in diameter. It was made by Australian international rugby player Ray Price in Markson Sparks of New South Wales, Australia and was pulled in the car park of the Westfield Shopping Town in Chatswood, Sydney, Australia on 9 November 1991.
The actual gift givers are different in various countries:
England: Father Christmas
France: Pere Noel (Father Christmas)
Germany: Christkind (angelic messenger from Jesus), she is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles.
Holland: St Nicholas.
Russia: In some parts - Babouschka (a grandmotherly figure), other parts it is Grandfather Frost.
Scandinavia: A variety of Christmas gnomes. One is called Julenisse.
Spain and South America: The Three Kings
Italy: La Befana (a kindly old witch)
A wreath with holly, red berries and other decorations began from at least the 17th century. Holly, with its sharply pointed leaves, symbolized the thorns in Christ's crown-of-thorns. Red berries symbolized the drops of Christ's blood. A wreath at Christmas signified a home that celebrated the birth of Christ.
In America, the weeks leading up to Christmas are the biggest shopping weeks of the year. Many retailers make up to 70% of their annual revenue in the month preceding Christmas.