‘Tis the season to be jolly

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Saturday, 22 December 2007.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • The first decorated Christmas was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
  • Christmas trees have been sold commercially since the 1800s.
  • In the United States, there are more than 21,000 Christmas tree growers.
  • Recycled trees have been used to make sand and oil erosion barriers and been placed in ponds for fish shelter
  • Christmas trees take an average of seven to 10 years to mature.
  • Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of Vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.
  • Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air.
  • The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ.
  • Artificial trees will last for six years in your home, but for centuries in a landfill.
  • Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch conservationist, banned Christmas trees in his home, even when he lived in the White House. His children, however, smuggled them into their bedrooms.
  • An acre of Christmas trees provides for the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
  • The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
  • The northern European custom of the candlelit Christmas tree is derived from the belief that it sheltered woodland trees when other trees lost their leaves during winter.
  • The tradition of Christmas lights dates back to when Christians were persecuted for saying Mass. A simple candle in the window meant that Mass would be celebrated there that night.
  • The modern Christmas custom of displaying a wreath on the front door of one’s house is borrowed from ancient Rome’s New Year’s celebrations. Romans wished each other “good health” by exchanging branches of evergreens. They called these gifts strenae after Strenia, the goddess of health. It became the custom to bend these branches into a ring and display them on doorways.
  • Frankincense is a sweet smelling gum resin derived from certain Boswellia trees which, at the time of Christ, grew in Arabia, India and Ethiopia. Tradition says that it was presented to the Christ Child by Balthasar, the black king from Ethiopia or Saba. The frankincense trade was at its height during the days of the Roman Empire. At that time this resin was considered as valuable as gems or precious metals. The Romans burned frankincense on their altars and at cremations.
  • One Norwegian Christmas custom begins in late autumn at harvest time. The finest wheat is gathered and saved until Christmas. This wheat is then attached to poles made from tree branches, making perches for the birds. A large circle of snow is cleared away beneath each perch. According to the Norwegians, this provides a place for the birds to dance, which allows them to work up their appetites between meals. Just before sunset on Christmas Eve, the head of the household checks on the wheat in the yard. If a lot of sparrows are seen dining, it is suppose to indicate a good year for growing crops.

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