In order to provide my readers with some proper yuletide reading, I have decided to share some interesting facts about Christmas.
Now, Christmas has been around a long time; in fact, it was in A.D. 350 that Pope Julius I, Bishop of Rome, proclaimed Dec. 25 as the official date for the birthday of the little 8-pound, 6-ounce Baby Jesus. Okay, I know we don’t know how much Baby Jesus weighed at his birth, but we don’t know what the true date of his birth is either, so, like Ricky Bobby, we’re going with 8-pounds, 6-ounces.
The first printed reference to a Christmas tree was in Germany in 1531, and, reportedly, Martin Luther was the first man to decorate a Christmas tree. Now, this notoriety did not sit well with Luther’s fellow Protestant reformer John Calvin, who was always trying to one-up Luther. Years after Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, sparking the Reformation; Calvin nailed his Ninety-Six Theses to the door of the Boar’s Butt Tavern in Meissin. However, it was soon covered with graffiti, and when Calvin tried to repost it; he was ridiculed as a poser and pelted with boar remains.
When Puritans arrived in America, they put the kibosh on Christmas. You see, they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday. Some Puritans condemned those who favored Christmas as enemies of the Christian religion. So, contrary to what Sarah Palin imagines, it wasn’t the liberals who started a War on Christmas, it was the people of her ilk, those damn Puritans. Although Alabama was the first state to celebrate Christmas in 1836, it didn’t become an official national holiday until 1870. Oklahoma held out celebrating Christmas in 1907 because the poor Okies didn’t have any trees, just dirt, and not much of that.
Now that we’ve covered the history of Christmas, let’s look at some of the more interesting stuff … like Rudolph and his shiny red nose. Although some people have speculated that Rudolph had a drinking problem, Norwegian scientists have concluded that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system. No wonder poor Rudolph sucked at reindeer games, the poor animal was one furry heap of disease.
As long as we’re on reindeer, let’s look at the rest of Santa’s high-flying gang. Most have male names, like Blitzer, Comet and Cupid, but since reindeer shed their antlers around Christmas, who’s to say what gender they are. Those in the know claim Santa’s reindeer are probably female or castrati. For those of you not familiar with the word castrati, it means there are no balls on the tree. And, as for Prancer, I think we all know which way he swings.
I bet a lot of you thought spiders were just for Halloween, but nnoooooo, at least according to the Poles, who look at the nasty little creatures as symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas. Why would Poles, as well as their dancers, believe such a thing? Well, Polish lore tells of how spiders wove a blanket for the little 8-pound, 6-ounce Baby Jesus. Okay, insert Polish jokes here.
Okay, I know some of you carry around pockets of mistletoe at Christmas in hopes of trading saliva with some fetching maiden, or madam for that matter. However, you should know that mistletoe is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads through bird droppings. Now, isn’t that pleasant? “Hey sweetie, how about a smootch under the dung twig? See how much saliva that will get you.
Our final bit of Christmas lore deals with the stockings that “are hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” Now, I could insert a joke here about the aforementioned Polish using fishnet stockings, but I won’t because it’s Christmas. Anyway, legend has it the start of the whole stocking thing involved three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry, which, of course, doomed them to be prostitutes. Hey, that’s the way it was in those days, marriage or prostitution, your pick. However, they were saved from making this choice because of the kindness of the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, who snuck down their chimney and filled their stockings with gold coins.
Now, I wish this last story had a happy ending for all three sisters, but, alas and alack, no. Two of the sisters were able to latch on to decent husbands, that meaning a man who bathed at least once a month and didn’t hit his wife in the face when it came time for her weekly beating. However, the third, the pretty one of the trio, Rosalita, thought, “Hey, I’ve got all the money I need, why do I need a husband?” So the partied with the far-wealthier fancy people until all her money was gone. And when she was down to her last pair of fishnet stockings, became a prostitute.