Top ten Christmas traditions 'facts'
Some of these top ten facts about Christmas traditions are true, some are false.
But can you tell which is which?
Top ten Christmas 'facts'
1. In Iceland, people believe that the Jólakötturinn (a monstrous cat) will eat people who don’t get new clothes for Christmas.
2. In Germany, people traditionally hang a glass gherkin on the Christmas tree. Whoever finds the gherkin on Christmas morning gets an extra present.
3. Xmas has been used to mean Christmas since the 16th century.
4. In Wales, people bring a horse puppet to each other’s houses and insult each other at Christmas.
5. In Scandinavia, people made goats out of straw and would try to hide these in people’s houses without them noticing.
6. People in Ukraine hide a spiders web on their trees and seeing a spider on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck.
7. In Greenland, a traditional winter food is rotten birds.
8. In Anglo-Saxon England, people would go from house to house singing and sharing a bowl of drink.
9. It is illegal in the UK to eat mince pies on Christmas day.
10. The first Christmas card was sent in the 13th century.
Answers (don't cheat!)
1. True – the Jólakötturinn has probably been terrifying Icelanders since the dark ages, however, written records detailing the monstrous cat's people-eating habits date to the 19th century
2. False – This ‘tradition’ was probably made up to try and sell glass ornaments in the 19th century
3. True – The X comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of Christ in Greek and has been used to represent the word Christ since the Romans.
4. True – The tradition is called Mari Lwyd (grey mare) and was first recorded in 1800. The people inside the house and the people outside the house exchange insults and challenges in rhyme until one side runs out of ideas.
5. True – The Yule goat was also thought to bring presents to children.
6. True –The tradition coms from an old Ukrainian legend. An old woman couldn’t afford to decorate her tree. During the night, a spider spun its web on the tree. The sunlight on the web the next morning made it look like tinsel.
7. True – The dish is called kiviak. People pack small birds into the skin of a seal then bury it for seven months. In the winter, they then eat the rotting birds. Think of that next time you complain about eating sprouts!
8. True – The tradition was became known as wassailing from the Old English greeting ‘Waes thu hael’ meaning ‘be in good health’.
9. False – In 1647, the Puritan movement aimed to reform Christianity in England. They believed that it was wrong to celebrate any holy days and banned celebrating Christmas, Easter and others. Mince pies were not singled out as illegal though.
10. False – the first Christmas card wasn’t sent until 1843. A man called Sir Henry Cole wanted a way to wish his friends and colleagues a merry Christmas so he asked John Calcott Horsley to print the first Christmas card.
Compiled by Andy Jarvis