The origin of hanging Christmas stockings comes to us from southern Europe. One legend says that an old man was in despair because he had no money for his daughter's dowries. St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the chimney, which happened to fall into a stocking hung up to dry.
Gingerbread has been a holiday tradition for thousands of years. It was originally eaten during Winter Solstice Festivals, but the tradition of the house made of Gingerbread originated in Germany.
Taffy making on Christmas Eve was one of the most important festive traditions of the Welsh. Taffy is a special kind of chewy toffee made from brown sugar and butter. It is boiled and then pulled until it becomes lovely and glossy.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 by a 34-year-old copywriter named Robert L. May, who came up with a poem about a misfit reindeer at the request of his employer, Chicago-based Montgomery Ward, for a Christmas story they could use as a store promotional gimmick.
The Montgomery Ward store had been buying preprinted coloring books and giving them away at Christmas every year, and the thought of creating their own would save them a lot of money. May, who had a knack for writing children's stories and limericks, was asked to create the booklet.
Drawing in part on the tale of The Ugly Duckling and his own background (he was often taunted as a child for being shy, small and slight), settled on the idea of an underdog, teased by the reindeer community because of his physical abnormality: a glowing red nose. He then proceeded to write Rudolph's story in verse, as a series of rhyming couplets, testing it out on his 4-year-old daughter as he went along. Although his daughter was thrilled with Rudolph's story, May's boss was worried that a story featuring a red nose - an image associated with drinking and drunkards - was unsuitable for a Christmas tale.
May responded by taking Denver Gillen, a friend from Montgomery Ward's art department, to the Lincoln Park Zoo to sketch some deer. Gillen's illustrations of a red-nosed reindeer overcame the hesitancy of May's boss, and the Rudolph story was approved.
Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet in 1939, and although wartime paper shortages stopped printing for the next several years, a total of 6 million copies had been given away by the end of 1946. The post-war demand for licensing the Rudolph character was tremendous, but since May had created the story as an employee of Montgomery Ward, they held the copyright and he received no royalties. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was printed commercially in 1947 and shown in theatres as a nine-minute cartoon the following year.
The Rudolph phenomenon really took off, when May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for a Rudolph song. Marks' musical version of "Rudolph", recorded by Gene Autry in 1949, sold two million copies that year and went on to become one of the best selling songs of all time, second only to "White Christmas." The TV special about Rudolph narrated by Burl Ives was produced in 1964 and remains a popular holiday favorite.
The world’s biggest Christmas tree (76 m high) was put up in America in 1950.
In India, they decorate banana trees at Christmas time.
Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
The biggest selling Christmas single of all time is Bing Crosby's White Christmas.
Most artificial trees are manufactured in Korea, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.
"Silent night" was written for a choir when the church organ broke down.