16 Things You Didn’t Know About Christmas

Thought you knew everything there was to know about Christmas? Think again. Know which bits of your tree might provide you with a little nutritional pick-me-up? Or what our ancestors ate for Christmas dinner before becoming turkey guzzlers? Never fear. Armed with these fun facts, you’ll be this year’s undisputed queen of Christmas trivia. Prepare to clean up at the pub quiz…

1. In Victorian times, mince pies actually contained beef.

2. The original Christmas pudding was a wine and raisin soup.

3. Before turkey became traditional, most English families sat down to enjoy a pig’s head with mustard for Christmas dinner.

4. In the Czech Republic it’s thought that, if the number of diners at the Christmas dinner table is uneven, the ‘odd one out’ will die within the next year.

5. Pine needles are edible – and a good source of vitamin C.

6. The poinsettia plant is native to Mexico. The Aztecs cultivated it as a fever medication.

7. The term ‘Noel’ comes from the French, ‘les bonnes nouvelles’, meaning ‘the good news’.

8. According to astronomers, the Star of Bethlehem was probably a comet or the planet Uranus.

9. Christmas was first celebrated in Britain in 521AD.

10. Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas festivities and carol singing in the UK between 1647 and 1660. (Prayers and sermons were allowed.)

11. The first commercial Christmas cards, which showed a family drinking wine, were produced in London in 1843. They were commissioned by civil servant Sir Henry Cole.

12. The first Christmas crackers were created by London baker and confectioner Tom Smith in 1847.

13. St Nicholas was born to Greek parents in the ancient town of Myra, now located in Turkey.

14. In Germany, Santa is called Kriss Kringle.

15. In Iceland, 13 ‘Yule Lads’ visit one by one to leave gifts. They include Spoon-Licker, Stubby, Doorway-Sniffer, Window-Peeper and Sausage-Swiper. A giant Christmas Cat also prowls the country on Christmas Eve, eating anybody not wearing at least one new piece of clothing.

16. According to Facebook status data, two weeks before Christmas marks the annual peak for break-ups. Christmas Day, though, is the least popular day to break up.