Christmas Trivia

For many around the globe December 25th marks a religious holiday in which we celebrate Jesus’ birth.  Over the centuries, it has been marked with fictional characters such as Santa and his famous reindeer of nine. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer from memorizing them in your childhood? Go ahead, sing the song “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” it will help you.

Since I am always interested in holiday traditions, how and where they originated, and why we practice them, I have compiled a list of Christmas facts from many outside sources (to which the original creator is unknown and proper credit cannot be acknowledged nor verified.)

Fun Facts

  1. Santa Claus was a real Saint (German: Sankt Nikolaus). He lived in what is now known as Turkey but was referred to as Myra in the 300s.
  2. Merry Christmas has name translations around the world.  Here are just a few of the more popular locations.  Sheng Tan Kuai Loh (China), Hauskaa Joulua (Finland), Joyeux Noel (France), Nadolig Llawen (Wales), and God Jul (Sweden).
  3. The Candy Cane is one of the most familiar symbols of Christmas. It dates back to 1670 in Europe but did not appear in the United States until the 1800s. The treat we see today, where the shape is Jesus’s hook to shepherd his lambs and the color and stripes hold significance for purity and Christ’s sacrifice, became common in the mid 1900s.
  4. The Christmas Stocking got its start when three unmarried girls did their laundry and hung their stockings on the chimney to dry. Because they had no dowry, they could not marry; however St. Nicholas knew of their plight and put a sack of gold in each stocking and in the morning the girls awoke to discover they had dowry’s and could now marry.

  5. Of the estimated 7,201,398,000 people in the world today, it is estimated that one out of 3 people celebrate Christmas worldwide, including 2.2-billion Christians. 
  6. The most popular Christmas Song ever is We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The song can be traced back to England, but its author and composer remains unknown.

  7. US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.
  8. The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

  9. Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbors to a long life and were not 

    sung in churches until they were introduced by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.

  10. Hanging stockings comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas’s donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
  11. Nearly 60-million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.
  12. The word Noel derives from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” or “the good news.”
  13. Many theologians estimate that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th but sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD and that December 25th is a unison day for the World to celebrate His birth.
  14. James Pierpont’s 1857 song Jingle Bells was first called One Horse Open Sleigh and was originally written for Thanksgiving.
  15. Before turkey, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig’s head and mustard.

  16. 530960_412511475489183_1847731354_nIn 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world’s biggest ever snowman. He stood at 113 ft 7 inches tall and was called Angus, King of the Mountain.
  17. The Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Christmas presents are opened on New Year’s Day.

  18. The holly in a wreath symbolizes Christ’s crown of thorns while the red berries are drops of his blood.
  19. The long shopping season before Christmas began in America when relatives of soldiers stationed overseas in the Second World War were encouraged to mail gifts early.

  20. Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.
  21. The first artificial Christmas Tree was not a tree at all. It was created out of goose feathers that were dyed.

  22. Santa has different names around the world – Kris Kringle (Germany), Le Befana (Italy), Pere Noel (France), and Deushka Moroz meaning Grandfather Frost (Russia).
  23. The word Christmas comes from the Old English “Cristes maesse” meaning “Christ’s Mass”.

  24. The bestselling Christmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, selling over 50-million copies worldwide since 1942.
  25. Christmas pudding was originally a soup made with raisins and wine.

  26. Kissing under the mistletoe is thought to spring from Frigga, the Norse goddess of love, who was associated with the plant.
  27. The Beatles hold the record for the most #1 Christmas singles, topping the charts in 1963, 65 and 67.

  28. Electric tree lights were invented by Edward Johnson in the US in 1882.
  29. Rudolph red-nosed reindeer was invented for US firm “Montgomery Ward”  children’s Christmas book promotion in 1939 to drive traffic into the stores.
  30. Gold wrapped chocolate coins commemorate St Nicholas who gave bags of gold coins to the poor.
  31. The first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD.
  32. In Greece, Italy, Spain and Germany, workers get a Christmas bonus of one month’s salary by law.
  33. 486342_409895365750794_1953333469_nIn the Czech Republic they enjoy dinners of fish soup, eggs and carp. The number of people at the table must be even, or the one without a partner will die next year.
  34. Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are mailed in the United States.
  35. All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.
  36. The “true love” mentioned in the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” does not refer to a romantic couple, but the Catholic Church’s code for God. The person who receives the gifts represents someone who has accepted that code. For example, the “partridge in a pear tree” represents Christ. The “two turtledoves” represent the Old and New Testaments.
  37. Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female.
  38. In 350AD Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ.
  39. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.
  40. The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
  41. The world’s largest Christmas stocking measured 106 feet and 9 inches (32.56 m) long and 49 feet and 1 inch (14.97 m) wide. It weighed as much as five reindeer and held almost 1,000 presents. It was made by the Children’s Society in London on December 14, 2007.
  42. Christmas trees have been sold in the United States since 1850.
  43. Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are cut and sold.
  44. Many European countries believed that spirits, both good and evil, were active during the Twelve Days of Christmas. These spirits eventually evolved into Santa’s elves, especially under the influence of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas(1779-1863) illustrated by Thomas Nast (1840-1902).
  45. The British wear paper crowns while they eat Christmas dinner. The crowns are stored in a tube called a “Christmas cracker.
  46. Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836.
  47. Christmas was not declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.
  48. 215884_412134998860164_555310391_nOklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.
  49. Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings.
  50. Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday, the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations from 1659-1681 with a penalty of five shillings for each offense. Some Puritan leaders condemned those who favored Christmas as enemies of the Christian religion.
  51. A Yule log is an enormous log that is typically burned during the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25-January 6). 
  52. Early illustrations of St. Nicholas depict him as stern, commanding, and holding a birch rod. He was more a symbol of discipline and punishment than the jolly, overweight elf children know today.
  53. Puritan Oliver Cromwell outlawed Christmas celebrations and carols in England from 1649-1660. The only celebrations allowed were sermons and prayers.
  54. There are two competing claims as to which U.S. President was the first to place a Christmas tree in the White House. Some scholars say President Franklin Pierce did in 1856; others say President Benjamin Harrison brought in the first tree in 1889. President Coolidge started the White House lighting ceremony in 1923.
  55. President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1912.
  56. There are approximately 21,000 Christmas tree farms in the United States. In 2008, nearly 45 million Christmas trees were planted, adding to the existing 400 million trees.
  57. The first printed reference to a Christmas tree was in 1531 in Germany.
  58. In 1962, the first Christmas postage stamp was issued in the United States.
  59. Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
  60. The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Since 2004 the tree has been topped with a 550-pound Swarovski Crystal star. And since 2007, the tree has been lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LED’s which are powered by solar panels.
  61. President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.
  62. In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd, because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.

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Sometimes public figures should think before opening their mouths.

It Peeves Me

First I must say I am no way involved in politics or have any wish to be; however I have decided since I have a blog I’ll write about something that get’s “all up in my crawl” (as my southern girlfriends would say.)

Of late I have read (and heard) multiple times where people (mostly public figures) say something that has caused public uproar.  Then to save face, they try to backtrack (clarify what they really said) and state we (the public) misunderstood the point they were trying to get across.  That we (the public) are the ones who took what they stated entirely wrong.  That what they meant to say was actually the OPPOSITE of what they…ahem….SAID!

A Piece of Advice

If you say what you feel or believe…have some character and STAND BY it. Back it up, don’t waiver, crack, or change your story to appease the populous. If you know you’ll be speaking on a hot point topic, complete your due-diligence, get your facts right, decide where you stand on the topic and why, and most importantly…make your stand and not act like a wimpish human when your position is challenged.

I am tired of hearing people (mostly politicians, or someone running for a public office…yeah, mostly politicians) make a comment, then because it isn’t popular they retract their statement.  Really?  I understand clarification is sometimes necessary; however clarification is that… clarification and not a total turn-about.

If you are running for an office, elected position or speak publicly, you should be old enough to know you cannot please all of the people all of the time.  If you run on a particular platform for your campaign….STICK TO IT if you should be elected or appointed for a specific office, do no say one thing to get elected, then change your direction when you gain office.

Lastly, if you are going to open your mouth to speak, make sure you are educated on the topic and not just “puke” a bunch of crapola off the top of your brain (if you actually possess said organ.)

Perfect Example of Vomit Mouth/Brain

footinmouth

Perfect example would be Rush Limbaugh….not that he retracted his comment regarding his “prostitute” statement last year (that I am aware), but he said something that was foolish, unwarranted, and clearly showed he was misguided in his “good judgement.” You can read the article on CNN’s website here.   Rush fully demonstrated that he was uneducated on the topic, or is just plain ignorant in good judgement before speaking on it.  Don’t get me wrong, I have listened to Rush for years, I agreed with him on a lot of things and disagreed on others.  Unfortunately because of his free for all vomiting of the mouth, Rush has fallen from his pedestal and cannot get up.

Another example of crapola for brains would be when Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) suggested that rape needed to be classified as “legitimate rape” and that women who are raped can’t get pregnant.”  WHAT?!

What has America come to?  Why do we shrug off the ridiculous comments and let people stay in office or the lime-lite?  We need to take America back and hold elected officials and public figure accountable for their statements and their actions.

(Thanks for letting me vent ya’ll.)

Saving our future generation and innocent victims.

Texting while driving

Texting while driving (Photo credit: Mr. Jason Weaver)

The Research

A year ago I wrote a research paper on adolescent drivers and the factors which distract them and lead to deadly accidents.  My research paper Drivers of the Adolescent Brain is eye-opening with horrific statistics.

Just this last week alone this nation has lost 15 people (mostly children) in three vehicle accidents which were related to texting.  Please educate your children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren on the dangers of texting and driving as they cannot hear it enough.  We value their precious lives and the lives of innocent victims.

English: A sign that states "No Texting W...

English: A sign that states “No Texting While Driving” in West University Place, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s News Article

The article below can be found at http://www.cnn.com.

(CNN) — As Chance Bothe, then 21, was driving home from college last year into the southeast Texas city of Ganado, he was focused more on texting a friend than he was on the road.

“I need to stop before I have a wreck and kill myself” was the message he sent shortly before his truck tumbled down a 20-foot ravine, his father said.

Bobby Bothe, 57, got a call at Dow Chemical, where he works, and thus began what turned into a months-long, multimillion-dollar recuperation for his son.

At the hospital, he ran into a friend’s daughter, a nurse. “I told her, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ and she said, ‘You pray.’ ” He did.

Man plunges off cliff while texting

SUV flips into pond, killing 6 teens

5 teens die in fiery crash

His son had suffered a compound broken leg, broken ankles, broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken sternum, a broken neck, a broken nose, crushed eye sockets, a crushed forehead and a fractured skull, Bothe said.

“They told us he wouldn’t make it, they said he’d be blind, he’d never walk again.”

After more than three weeks in a coma, Chance Bothe regained consciousness but initially recognized neither of his parents, Bothe said.

Bothe knows that many parents of young drivers are not so lucky. That was underscored by three crashes in three days this week in which 15 teenagers were killed.

In Illinois, four Chicago-area teenagers died Tuesday morning when their car plunged into a creek. They were students at Wilmington High School, the school superintendent said.

In Ohio on Sunday, a sport utility vehicle veered off a two-lane road into a pond, killing six of eight teenage occupants. The vehicle was meant to carry five people.

In Texas, an SUV carrying five teenagers collided with a gas tanker Sunday. All five young people were killed, and the tanker driver was seriously injured. The teen driver failed to stop at a stop sign, authorities said.

For survivors, recovery can be long. With such severe injuries, Chance Bothe was hospitalized for seven months. Now, the 22-year-old man has plastic eye sockets, metal rods in his legs and a rebuilt nose. “He’s a little bit slower than he was” but is working on a ranch, attending online classes from home and planning to take his message of survival to high schools around the state, Bobby Bothe said.

It’s a message the father supports. “I don’t want no parent to ever go through this,” he said. “You gotta know, my son is everything to me.”

6 teens killed, 2 injured when overcrowded SUV flips into pond

Teen tragedy: 5 die in fiery collision with tanker truck in Texas

Though traffic fatalities have seen a historic drop in recent decades, young drivers remain at highest risk.

Motor-vehicle crashes are the top cause of death for people ages 15 to 20, according to 2007 figures from the National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2010, crashes killed about 2,700 people ages 16 to 19 — more than seven per day — and resulted in nearly 282,000 others being treated for injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a fatal crash, the agency says.

The weekend crashes in Ohio and Texas fit even higher-risk profiles:

— Both SUVs were packed with other teenagers, which in itself is a risk factor. The more teenage passengers, the more likely a crash will occur.

— None of the six teens who died in the Ohio wreck was wearing a seat belt. In 2011, 54% of high school students said they always wore seat belts, the lowest rate of any age group, according to the CDC.

— Failure to focus on the task at hand also may have played a role with the 19-year-old driver in Ohio. “The lady driving was playing around when she was driving,” said Asher C. Lewis, one of the two survivors of the crash, according to his account in the traffic crash report. “She was swaying and speeding. I think she was driving on purpose like that but I’m not sure why. It felt like she was driving like 80 mph.” Teen drivers are more likely than their older counterparts to speed, the CDC says.

— The Texas driver’s age — 16 — put him and his passengers at heightened risk. Accidents are more likely to occur during the first few months after a teenager has received a driver’s license.

— The Texas driver was male: In 2010, the death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was nearly twice that of females.

— Both wrecks occurred on the weekend: More than half (55%) of teen deaths from motor-vehicle crashes occur on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the CDC says.

Texas holds a dubious distinction related to crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, young drivers were involved in 187 fatal crashes in 2010 in the Lone Star State; the next highest number was 113, in Florida. Ohio had 71.

Still, the trend for younger drivers — as with drivers overall — is toward safety. The 1,963 drivers ages 15 to 20 who died in motor-vehicle crashes in 2010 represented a 46% drop from the 3,617 who died in 2001, according to NHTSA.

There are proven ways to limit the carnage, according to the CDC. It cites graduated driver licensing systems in which teens’ abilities to drive are expanded over time from the initial stages, when driving is restricted to low-risk conditions.

Some parents are equipping their vehicles with tracking technology, which they can use to monitor their children’s driving habits in real time.

“Parents are very nervous,” Ken Muth, a spokesman for American Family Insurance, said in a telephone interview. “Our agents hear it every day. Putting a 16-year-old behind the wheel on their own is a very frightening thing for a parent.”

The company offers parents the option of installing a webcam on the rear-view mirror of the car used by new drivers.

The camera records what happens inside and outside the vehicle but saves the recording only when it senses a sudden movement such as hard braking or a sharp turn, Muth said.

The video is provided to the parents on a secure website, the equivalent of a driving report card for their kids, he said.

“They can sit and review what happened in that incident and use it as a learning tool,” said Muth. He noted that the service is free for a year, and the insurance company is not privy to the information collected.

Muth credited the program for reducing risky driving behavior and said teens tend to embrace the technology after using it. “They develop trust with their parents, become better drivers and get more driving privileges.”

Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm, noted that the insurer set up a website last fall to aid beginning drivers and their parents. One of its programs — Road Aware — helps drivers learn to recognize and anticipate road hazards in front of a video screen rather than on the road.

“This is not a skill that’s automatic,” Mullen said in a telephone interview. “It has to be learned.”

Forty-three percent of teen driver crashes are due to a failure to recognize hazards, she said.

In another example of help from technology, a teenager can activate an app on his or her cellular phone and then put it in their vehicle’s cupholder, where it will score the driver’s abilities based on acceleration, cornering and braking, she said. “It gives you feedback on the drive you just took and allows you to score it,” she said.

Chance Bothe’s near-fatal texting is common, according to CDC statistics. In 2009, distracted driving was linked to more than 5,400 deaths and about 448,000 injuries. Cell phone use was cited as the major distraction in nearly 1,000 of the deaths and 24,000 injuries.

Nine percent of U.S. drivers said they texted or e-mailed “regularly or fairly often” while driving.

Not all of those messages may be worth sending.

“It was just a curve coming into town,” Bobby Bothe said. “And he never curved. Just kept going straight. If the creek would have had water in it, he would have drowned.

“Three of my buddies seen it happen; they went to him and they drug him out of the truck and the truck was on fire and it blew up as soon as they got him out,” he said.

My Sentiments Exactly!

I have been mulling over how I would sum up the U.S. Presidential election in my blog when I came across this video of precious Abby who perfectly echoed my sentiments of late.  I already know who my candidate is for Tuesday’s event and quite frankly I have grown tired of hearing the names “BRONCO BAMA and MITT ROMNEY,” as Abby states them.  I keep telling myself…four more days…four more days.  Until the ads start again in three more years.  UGH!

Changing Old and Long Drawn Out Habits

I say our political election campaign duration should follow France’s lead where the “campaigning” period is two weeks prior to voting.  Don’t believe me?  Go to the Library of Congress to read more about their political system.

09-11-01

We’ll never forget, or forgive!