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The War on Christmas Lasted Until 1870
December 12, 2013 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Christmas.

(This is a single-link, mostly Ameri-centric list of useless Christmas trivia)
posted by KokuRyu (45 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Link dead for anyone else?
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2013


Link dead for anyone else?


The first rule about the war on Christmas is to not link to the war on Christmas? Nice compilation, yule love it!

If you prefer video looks at celebrations around the world, here's a link to (mostly) non-alien theory Christmas vids on The History Channel.
posted by tilde at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2013


It was a bumpy link at first, but then it started working fine for me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2013


Did You Know: That last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you threw it away?
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Tis the season for sharing, so here are more (vaguely) related lists:

12 Ways to Remember the True Meaning of Christmas
13 Things You Didn't Know About Christmas Traditions
13 Things You Didn't Know About Christmas in Canada
25 Things You Didn’t Know About Christmas
50 Festive Facts (You Probably Didn't Know About Christmas)

15 things you didn't know about 'White Christmas'
20 things you didn't know about National Lampoon's 'Christmas Vacation'
20 things you didn't know about the greatest Christmas movie, 'Die Hard'
50 things you might not know about 15 of your favorite Christmas movies
posted by filthy light thief at 10:59 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first Christmas cards appeared in 1843, designed by John Horsley, and sold in London for one penny each. The image on the front was of a family raising a Christmas toast which caused the Puritans to denounce it.

The Puritans were so angry they traveled forward in time to still exist in 1843?
posted by mittens at 10:59 AM on December 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


They've been hiding out. Waiting, in secret, for their final plan to play out. We will pay, they assure themselves. We will pay...
posted by corb at 11:02 AM on December 12, 2013


Let's Put Christ Back In Christmas.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I totally thought this was going to be Jesus being white.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2013


The one weird trick that saved Christmas.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


15 Things You Didn't Get Me For Christmas Even Though I Dropped Several Hints That I Wanted Them
posted by perhapses at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Puritans were so angry they traveled forward in time to still exist in 1843?

They've been hiding out. Waiting, in secret, for their final plan to play out.

I knew those Unitarians were up to something with their all-inclusive seasonal celebrations!
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:14 AM on December 12, 2013


If you are at all interested in the history of Christmas celebrations, I highly recommend Steven Nussbaum's The Battle for Christmas.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:15 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


(vaguely) related lists...

Nine Circles there be, as well correſponding thereunto, 8 Powers of the Air and their Prince:

I. Virtuous pagans ~ Cupid
II. Luſt ~ The Vixen
III. Gluttony ~ The Dancer
IV. Greed ~ The Daſher
V. Wrath ~ Dunder
VI. Hereſy ~ The Prancer
VII. Violence ~ Blixem
VIII. Fraud ~ The Comet
IX. S N T A
posted by Iridic at 11:16 AM on December 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


I can't stand all the commercialism and materialism of Christmas today.


We should celebrate Christmas the way it was before it got all wrapped up in consumerism: by going door-to-door and demanding alcohol from people.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


that link better be about wassailing
posted by elizardbits at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


charlie don't surf, that is the most irreverent thing I've ever listened to. I love it.
posted by xedrik at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2013


I swear they put out the bloodstones and ceremonial daggers earlier every year.
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


We should celebrate Christmas the way it was before it got all wrapped up in consumerism: by going door-to-door and demanding alcohol from people.

Christmas? I call that Tuesday.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:26 AM on December 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


We need to back to traditional Christmas when people would get drunk, stroll around town making mischief and go to rich peoples houses, and demand food and gifts from them.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just gonna keep trotting this out every year.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:33 AM on December 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


When we moved to our new neighborhood in October a few years ago, my wife and I -- suffused with optimism and new-neighborly bonhomie -- decided to take the kids Christmas caroling one Saturday in mid-December.

Oh, people came to their doors, all right, but with a bemused smile and furrowed brows that said, "Caroling? Fer real?" (And also, "Are they still singing? Jesus…") Since we'd brought along a the few other people we already knew, we were largely strangers to the folks whose bells we rang. It was kind of awesome, but no one wanted to do it again the next year.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


1) Wassailing seems like an awesome tradition. "Give us booze, or we'll wreck up the place! We're assholes! It's Christmas! Wassail!"

2) I like that the etymological origin of the word "bless" in English is ultimately from blotham, proto-Germanic for "blood," and means smear or consecrate with blood. God bless us every one, indeed.
posted by klangklangston at 12:18 PM on December 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


We need to back to traditional Christmas when people would get drunk, stroll around town making mischief and go to rich peoples houses, and demand food and gifts from them.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:29 PM on December 12 [2 favorites +] [!]


We do. It is called Halloween.
posted by Gungho at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The war against Christmas was declared over on June 26th, 1870. It was then that this Holiday finally gained the status it felt it rightly deserved in the US with official recognition on the American Calendar....

However, the war was far from over.

In the days before the new millennium, after seemingly being content in its position for over 100 years, Christmas launched its own calculated surprise attack. Striking out from its well guarded position, it quickly overwhelmed its closest neighbor, Thanksgiving.

As the first conquered Holiday and former ally, Thanksgiving has been quoted between gouts of gravy-tainted gore, as saying:

"Gobblegobble... I saw no harm in sharing my week, my territory, my victuals with my then ally. I saw the joy in bringing together families, and extending the happiness found therein. When asked to grant colonization of my Friday, I only thought that good would come of it. When asked to give official recognition of Chrismas' power at my own parade, I happily capitulated. However, Christmas only used that Friday, that bearded, friendly figurehead, as launching points for its initial vicious attack.

Now, sallies have been launched on my own land, my own people. Great missiles of consumption and early "Black Friday" sales launched on households and dinners across the land. It shakes me to the core, and my pleas for assistance from the rest of the Holidays have gone unanswered."


It is widely known that Thanksgiving has made repeated pleas to its next closest neighbor, Halloween. However, after the 1993 propaganda film "The Nightmare Before Christmas" it appears that these two Holidays may have an unspoken cease-fire or other secretive agreement.

On this, Thanksgiving was quoted as saying:

If Halloween thinks it is safe in its position, that its armies of ghouls, zombies, and Batmen, protected behind their Minecraft Block and Fun Size candy wall will keep them safe, then let them try. There is simply no stopping Christmas. Christmas will not stop until there is nothing left but Christmas.

4th of July, Labor Day, Easter. There is nothing sacred to Christmas. Nothing... nothing at all

Beware. Christmas is coming... for you

posted by Debaser626 at 12:52 PM on December 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


There were three kinds of gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – so it was just assumed that there were three men who brought them.

"C'mon Balthazar, can't we just say the myrrh is from both of us?"
"God damn it, Larry, you always pull this!"
posted by rollick at 12:54 PM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did you know??

1. December 25th is not actually Jesus' birthday.
2. It is, however, the birthday of Isaac Newton, Annie Lennox, Humphrey Bogart, and Boston Rob from Survivor.
3. It is also the birthday of all these lovely Mefites, including yours truly.
4. Christmas is sort of a bogus birthday to have because everywhere's closed and all your friends are with their families, so you can't go eat a fancy dinner or go get drunk.
5. Also, everyone who looks at your drivers' license will invariably comment on either how much it must suck to have a Christmas birthday or how you must have been such a lovely present, haw haw.
6. People with Christmas birthdays could use a few extra presents to make up for their inconvenient birth date. Perhaps some high-end chocolate or gin or a cheese-of-the-month subscription or a new cashmere cardigan in a women's size 10. Cash is also welcome.
7. You can help out by sending gifts to The Christmas Birthday Fund c/o Metroid Baby LLC, PO Box 10880-Q, Cambridge, MA 02138. I will make sure the appropriate donations get to Boston Rob.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


The one weird trick that saved Christmas.

Man, seeing the touchstone logo-sequence is basically like time traveling.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:03 PM on December 12, 2013


Is it time to revisit The Long Jolly Slog?
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:16 PM on December 12, 2013


It was kind of awesome, but no one wanted to do it again the next year.

Then this year you need to dress up like an invading Norman horde and do it right.
posted by elizardbits at 2:37 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fantastic post, and lots of good and varied-source info here from all over, if you follow all the links from filthy light thief. . Merry Christmas!
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 2:51 PM on December 12, 2013


Christmas is sort of a bogus birthday to have because everywhere's closed and all your friends are with their families, so you can't go eat a fancy dinner or go get drunk.

Hey, at least you don't have to share your birthday with International Caps Lock Day, so that when people write HAPPY BIRTHDAY on your facebook page, you can't tell if they're super-excited because they really like you, or they're just playing along with some stupid meme.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:04 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god, caroling. The last time I went caroling it was in high school. It was with Latin club. We sang carols in...Latin.

"Rudolphus cervus nasum. Rubicundum habebat."

(I think. It's been a while)
posted by emjaybee at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still love trotting this out year after year. The Psychedelic Secrets of Santa Claus.
posted by daHIFI at 5:59 PM on December 12, 2013


So since we're talking about Christmas details, can I ask why "the mistletoe" is often holly?
posted by 23 at 6:58 PM on December 12, 2013


I knew all of these except the 4th century song in #4 and I just learned the thing about the reindeer in #10 this year. I know far too much about Christmas history at this point in my career. My pedantry surpasseth understanding. It is encouraging though to see wider distribution of some of the information.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on December 12, 2013


"The last time I went caroling it was in high school. It was with Latin club. We sang carols in...Latin."

I really want to find something to say about this, but I'm mostly just awed. My adult self, in a good way. My adolescent self is kind of horrified.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:28 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think one of my favorite Christmas Caroling stories happened completely unexpectedly, and was a genius idea on the part of the caroler.

I was about eight - just about old enough to be trusted with answering the phone for the house - and one year about mid-December, the phone rang. Mom was doing laundry or something, so I answered the phone - "H''lo?"

And as soon as I spoke, the woman on the other end started singing. I don't even remember what it was - I vaguely remember it being some pretty medieval-ish-sounding thing, something i hadn't ever heard before, and I just stood there blinking with the phone pressed to my ear and listening until she was done. When she finished, she simply said "Merry Christmas!"

It actually took me a second to remember I should say something too, so I just said "Merry Christmas" back.

"Bye!" she said, and I said "bye" too, and we both hung up.

I honestly don't know whether or not I told my parents. I think when you're a kid that kind of unusual simple magic is something that you think happens a lot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:41 AM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


That is a really neat story.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2013


Nah, just somebody seeing if you were home before they robbed the place.
posted by Big_B at 9:22 AM on December 13, 2013


I honestly don't know whether or not I told my parents. I think when you're a kid that kind of unusual simple magic is something that you think happens a lot.

What you didn't know then, and I can tell you now:
the phonecall was coming from inside the house.
posted by Mezentian at 4:33 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, it was possible to make a phone line ring by dialing a special number from it and then hanging up; techs used it to check functionality. I forget what the number was (I think it was four digits). If you were lucky, you could pick the phone up right at the same time as the other person (assuming there was two extensions in the house) and make it sound like you called them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:40 AM on December 15, 2013


All true, but I am still enjoying the idea of some teens in madrigal choir prank-calling people for fun.
posted by Miko at 7:38 AM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a cold choral call.
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 AM on December 15, 2013


In Australia that callback number used to be something like 1199.
Oh, the pranks we used to play.
posted by Mezentian at 9:46 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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