Did You Know: 10 Holiday Facts

Dec 6, 2018

by Gia Appolonia '20
Student Writer

The most wonderful time of the year is here for so many people of different faiths around the world! Scroll through this story to read all about the fun backgrounds behind many different holidays.

1. Did you know? The idea of Santa Claus stretches all the way back to the 3rd century to a monk named St. Nicholas who, at the time, lived in modern-day Turkey. His jolly-ol’ legend didn’t make its way to American pop culture until the end of the 18th century!

Mnorah

2. There are eight nights of Hanukkah; seven to represent the elements found in this world, and the eighth to represent that which is above. 8 days, 8 miracles!

3.  “Jingle Bells” started as a Thanksgiving song! Mid-19th century songwriter and composer James Lord Pierpont published it with the original title, “One Horse Open Sleigh.”

4. The word Kwanzaa is derived from Swahili, translating to “first fruits of the harvest.” The seven days of Kwanzaa correspond with principles of unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

5. Hanukkah candles must burn after night falls, since their purpose is to bring light into darkness!

Christmas Tree

6.  The origin of the Christmas Tree dates all the way back to ancient cultures! The Romans marked winter solstice with evergreens as a reminder of spring!

7. Speaking of Winter Solstice! Did you know? Some people with no religious affiliation celebrate the holiday season simply by enjoying the symbolism of the peace and joy that it brings! The days may get colder, but they also get brighter and longer, leading to the emergence of spring.

8. Muslims around the world regard early December as a time to commemorate the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s birthday. This holiday is called Mawlid, which is Arabic for “birthday.”

Candy cane

9. There are many rumors afloat about the story of how candy canes originated. One legend has it that they got their start in Germany, about 250 years ago. Starting off as white sugar sticks, they were given to children by their choirmaster as a way to keep them well-behaved. The red stripes, the mint flavoring, and the “J” shaping (for “Jesus”) weren’t added until about the early 1900s.

10. Thanks to the classic 90’s sitcom Seinfeld, the day of Festivus on December 23 has mainstreamed its way into American culture in the spirit of inclusivity and fun! While it was originally written as “Festivus for the rest of us,” today it is developing as a way for “all of us” to celebrate the coming new year together as one.