12 Christmas fun facts

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

Twelve drummers drumming

eleven pipers piping | ten lords a-leaping | nine ladies dancing

eight maids a-milking | seven swans a-swimming | six geese a-laying

five gold rings | four calling birds | three French hens

two turtle dove | and a partridge in a pear tree

Christmas is celebrated in many parts of the world, but not all of them celebrate in the same way. From traditions to food choices and who brings the presents (and when), these are some of the most interesting fun facts.

One of Iceland's 12 Yule Lads

1. 13 Yule Lads (Iceland)

Iceland has not one, not two, but 13 Father Christmasses. From the 12th to the 24th of December, a different Yule Lad – said to be half-trolls – comes to visit houses. Get ready for interesting creatures such as bowl-licker (Askasleikir, the sixth Lad), spoon-licker (Þvörusleikir, the fourth Lad) and candle-beggar (Kertasníkir, the 13th Lad) to stop by!

2. Hide your brooms (Norway)

In Norway, it’s tradition to hide your brooms on Christmas Eve. It’s an age-old tradition, based on the belief that evil witches and wizards would come out on Christmas Eve and search for brooms to ride and cause mischief on. I think some people might take this very seriously and just hide their brooms all year round.

3. Get your skates on (Venezuela)

Caracas in Venezuela has a rather speedy tradition: On the morning of Christmas Eve, people head to their local church in roller skates. Where this tradition comes from? No idea, but I’m sure its would be fun to see other countries do this in icier conditions.

4. The big book swap (Iceland)

In Iceland, it’s tradition to exchange books on Christmas Eve and spend some time together reading them, individually or to each other. Possibly my favourite fact of the bunch here.

5. Oh na na, what’s my name?

What do you call the chubby man who brings the presents? He’s certainly got a few names: Whilst Santa and Father Christmas are quite popular, the German name literally translates to “Christmas Man”; Norway has a “Christmas Gnome” (Julenissen) and in Russia, it’s “Grandfather Frost” (Ded Moroz). My favourite is Sweden, though: They expect a visit from a “Christmas brownie”, no less! I’d quite like that, to be honest.

6. Presents on..?

When do you open your presents? A lot of countries receive and open them on the 25th of December, but that’s not the case for everyone. In Germany, it’s Christmas Eve where most people receive the biggest chunk of their presents, whilst kids and adults in Spain and Russia, for example, have to wait until January.

A Christmas display at Kevlavik Airport

7. A crackin’ Christmas

Christmas Crackers are one of my favourite parts of Christmas dinner. We can thank Tom Smith for this joyous tradition, who invented the Crackers around 1846. He was inspired by French sweets.

8. 12 dishes of Christmas

In Hungary, Poland and other Eastern European countries, Christmas dinner consists of no less than 12 courses. As no meat, eggs or dairy are allowed due to the Nativity Fast, all meals consist of lots of vegetables, fish and grains.

9. Oh, Christmas Tree

The first Christmas tree was decorated by German Protestan reformer Martin Luther. Artificial Christmas trees are also an invention of the Germans. The first Christmas tree in the White House was brought in by Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States.

10. Under the mistletoe

In Greek culture, kissing someone under the mistletoe was basically the same as a marriage proposal. So, be careful who you smooch this year (or plan it carefully).

11. A pre-Christmas Christmas?

The 6th of December is another important date in many people’s calendar. It’s St. Nicholas’ Day, which, in some countries, means that kids receive a little surprise if they’ve put their shoe outside the night before. In other countries, like Luxembourg, France or the Czech Republic, Santa actually comes on St. Nicholas Eve.

12. An illegal celebration

Between 1647 and 1660, Christmas celebrations were illegal in the UK. Puritan Oliver Cromwell thought it immoral to hold a celebration on a special, holy day like Christmas.

Which of these was your favourite? Do you know of any fun Christmas facts? And how did you like #LKXmas?

’til next time x

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