MANILA, Philippines - Did you know that Santa Claus is called Sheng Dan Lao Ren in China, Father Christmas in England, Papa Noel in Brazil and Peru, and Pere Noel in France?
In celebration of the holiday season, here are some interesting facts about Christmas:
- The word "Christmas" comes from the Old English name "Christes Maesse," which means "Christ's Mass."
- The common abbreviation of Christmas to "Xmas" is derived from the Greek alphabet. "Chi," the first letter of Christ's name in the Greek alphabet, is written as "X."
- Before Western Christians decided on December 25 to celebrate the birth of Jesus, several dates were proposed: January 2, March 21, March 25, April 18, April 19, May 20, May 28, and November 20.
- In Germany, Christmas Eve is said to be a magical time of the year when the pure in heart can hear animals talking.
- Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra, the world's most popular non-biblical saint.
- Santa Claus has different names in different countries: Sheng Dan Lao Ren in China, Father Christmas in England, Papa Noel in Brazil and Peru, and Pere Noel in France.
- Santa Claus's sleigh is led by nine reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer. Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph's red nose may be the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.
- Germans made the first artificial Christmas trees, which are made of dyed goose feathers.
- The earliest known Christmas tree decorations were apples.
- A 2010 study on Facebook posts showed that two weeks before Christmas is the most popular time for couples to break up. Christmas Day, on the other hand, is the least favorite day for breakups.
- There are 364 gifts in the popular holiday carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
- The two biggest selling Christmas songs are "White Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
- The smallest Christmas card was made by scientists at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom in 2010. At only 200 x 290 micrometers in size, 8,276 of these cards would fit in one postage stamp.
- The most expensively dressed Christmas tree was valued at $11,026,900 and was displayed by the Emirates Palace in the United Arab Emirates last year.
- The largest artificial Christmas tree measures 170.6 feet and can be found in Brazil.
- The largest Christmas star ornament measures 103 feet and eight inches tall and can be found in India.
- The largest Christmas stocking measures about 168 feet in length and 70 feet in width, and can be found in Italy.
- The most lights lit on simultaneously on a Christmas tree is 194,672 and was achieved by Kiwanis Malmedy and Haute Fagnes Belgium in Belgium last year.
Guinness World Records