Just in case you find yourself reaching for conversation and/or looking to impress at some point in the next few days, we prepare you with 10 random facts about the holiday season.
- The average Brit will eat 2,300 calories at Christmas Day lunch. That is 115% of the recommended daily intake for women, and 92% of the recommended daily intake for men.
- The overall price of a primary Christmas meal has gone up 7.5% in the past year. (Most significantly, the price of old world red wine has risen 14.2% in the past year, more than any other kind of alcohol, due to demand exceeding supply, or something along those lines.)
- The first Christmas crackers were made in 1847 by a London candymaker named Tom Smith. He based the design on a candy wrapper. The first Christmas tree lights were made by American Edward Johnson in 1882. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1937 by US department store, Montgomery Ward, which wanted to produce its own colouring book for giveaway.
- Historians believe Jesus was born between 7 and 2 BC. Christmas was placed on 25 Dec in the 4th Century, most likely to coincide with the winter solstice (21, 22 or 23 Dec, and 22 Dec this year), or another ancient pagan festival.
- The Immaculate Conception actually refers to Mary being conceived without sin, as opposed to the virgin birth of Jesus. This does not, however, mean that her parents didn't have sex in order to conceive her. It just means that she was born without original sin. Confusing, and Catholic. Madonna's Immaculate Collection, which covers her career from 1982-1990, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
- Bing Crosby's recording of Irving Berlin's White Christmas is the best selling single of all time, with somewhere between 50-100 million copies sold. It was written when Berlin was in Banning, California.
- Jingle Bells, written in 1857 by James Pierpont in Medford, Massachusetts, was originally written for Thanksgiving, and was broadcasted into space on 16 Dec, 1965 when it was sung by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra.
- Hanukkah, which runs from 20-28 Dec this year, is also known as the Festival of Lights. It is not one of the high holidays (those are Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana), but it commemorates the rededication of the holy temple in Jerusalem, and the oil that kept the lamp lit for seven days longer than expected.
- A dreidel is a spinning top that kids play with during Hanukkah. Each side dictates a move (nothing, all, half, put in), and players use real or chocolate coins or other candy, and play until the pot is won.
- Canada, where a white Christmas is usually a sure thing, is going to be almost entirely green, even in places like Gander, Newfoundland (one of the snowiest places in the country) and Winnipeg, Manitoba (one of the coldest places in the country). The US Rockies and Planes will have a white Christmas, leftover from a blizzard on the 20th.