10 Lies You Were Told About Christmas

Ho ho ho, and welcome to Alltime10s I’m here to bring you a healthy dose of reality to some festive misconceptions

Let’s see what I’ve got in my sack for you… 10 Lies You Were Told About Christmas 10 Writing ‘Xmas’ is disrespectful You see it everywhere as the holiday season approaches and shops up and down the country want to efficiently advertise their ‘Xmas’ sales But is this space-saving abbreviation really the anti-religious emblem it’s made out to be? Is it really taking the ‘Christ’ out of ‘Christmas’? Leading scholars say a resounding ‘No’ Long before Walmart and Target and the rising capitalist-dominance of Yuletide, the word ‘Xmas’ was forged – one thousand years ago According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the X isn’t actually there to anonymize and negate Christ, but is actually a shortening of Christ in Greek

The letter Chi [kai, rhymes with pie] in Greek looks a lot like the English letter X, hence the confusion In 1021, an example is found of XPmas in an Anglo Saxon Chronicle This is a slightly less abbreviated form, because the P is actually the Greek letter ‘rho’ So ‘Chi’, ‘Rho’, ‘mas’ ‘Ch-r-istmas’

The letters ‘Chi’ and ‘Rho’ were often even combined into the Labarum symbol that represents Christ on the Cross 9 Everything about the Three Kings You know how it goes, right? Jesus is in Bethlehem, there’s a star above his stable, Three Kings named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar arrive and give him some presents that he’s too young to make use of because he’s a freakin’ baby Except, no, that’s not how it goes There is some gold, frankincense and myrrh, but that’s about all that’s right

First of all, Three Kings? The bible actually never states how many there are or that they are even kings, in fact only the Gospel of Matthew mentions these wise men at all From the text, we know that there is more than one, but beyond that it could be 3, it could be 5, it could be 20! In Eastern Christianity, 12 is the common number This also means that their names can’t be known for certain And when did they visit? Well, according to the Bible they weren’t there on the night of Jesus’ birth, and many think it could have been anywhere up to 2 years later 8

Suicide spike at Christmas The logic seems relatively sound: Christmas is such a festive occasion that people with depression, observing all the warm familial embraces around them, are pushed over the edge Suicides supposedly surge in number However, it’s just not true One meta review that looked at a number of studies found that suicides and attempts at suicide actually decrease in December, and in particular on Christmas Eve So it seems all that Christmas cheer actually makes those struggling feel a little better

People who do suffer from mental illness are also more likely to have their family around them as a support network However, this doesn’t last for long Unfortunately there is a January rebound, possibly because of a ‘postponement’ effect, and then suicide rates peak in spring 7 Jesus was born on Christmas Day Christmas Day may celebrate the birth of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean they got the date right

The bible gives no indication as to the exact date of Jesus’ birth And in fact, many think it’s more likely to be in the spring time, when shepherds are more likely to be keeping watch of their flocks by night So how did the 25th December get chosen? Well, there are few competing theories One you may have heard is to do with the winter solstice, which, although it takes place on December 21st now, the Roman calendar had down as December 25th On this date they had a pagan festival for the sun god, and it seems plausible that Christmas could have supplanted it

Another theory says that Hippolytus of Rome believed that Jesus was conceived on the same day that he was crucified He calculated that Jesus was crucified on March 25th, and counting forward 9 months gets you to December 25th Whatever the day may have been, we actually don’t even know the year that Jesus was born thanks to further ambiguity and contradiction between the gospels of Matthew and Luke It could have been any time from 6BC to 6AD 6

Everything about reindeer Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph Santa’s flying reindeer were first brought into the world by the poem “A Visit from St Nicholas”, believed to have been written by Clement C Moore Well, except for Rudolph, but that’s another story

First up, reindeers have antlers, right? So then they must be a bunch of dudes? Not necessarily Female reindeer actually grow them too, and old male reindeer shed their antlers in early December So that means that Rudolph is either female, or an immortally young male reindeer Did Moore really invent them? Anthropologist John Rush has a competing theory and, yep, it involves drugs He thinks the legend derives from shamanic practices in Siberia, where people would consume hallucinogenic mushrooms called Amanita muscaria that even look kind of Christmassy

There are lots of reindeer around, and a Harvard biologist says it’s very possible that tribe members hallucinated they were flying 5 Christmas was a Christian idea After Jesus’ death, Christianity was carried across the land by the Apostles, but Christmas wasn’t actually celebrated for a good few centuries The Christians in these years were still a persecuted minority, and one whose ambition was to put distance between themselves and pagan customs like large, public celebrations Furthermore, early Christian writers didn’t seem that bothered about Jesus’ birth; they were much more interested in the resurrection

It wasn’t until 200 CE that the first writing emerged that tried to date Christ’s birth, but it still wasn’t being celebrated then It was only when Constantine became emperor of Rome in the early 4th century that he brought Christianity to the fold and instituted the Christmas holiday for the Roman Empire 4 The ‘War on Christmas’ isn’t real You hear it every year; the ‘War on Christmas’ is eroding the holiday through political correctness and appeals to diversity Whether or not that is true, there has been a real ‘War on Christmas’ and it was waged by religious fanatics

Let’s go back to the 1600s to the season of cheer and goodwill, when carollers still roamed from door to door and people ate and drank and generally engaged in merriment Who could possibly take issue with all that? The Puritans, that’s who Miserly, Scrooge-like and grinch-like they looked at this festive fun with an icy disdain Where was the reverence? Where was the piety? To them, this was almost a blasphemous interpretation of the day The Puritan, military commander Oliver Cromwell overthrew the British monarchy in 1647 and went about arresting ministers who preached on Christmas Day

These same Puritans came to America, where they were even more forceful In Massachusetts celebrating Christmas was banned for 22 years from 1659, under the penalty of 18 shillings 3 We give gifts because of The Wise Men Remember those Roman pagan winter solstice festivals? Well, they had one called ‘Saturnalia’, a week-long festival that began on December 17th It featured continual partying, feasting and, wait for it, gift giving

This appears to be the true origin of why we give presents on Christmas – not because of the Wise Men’s gold, frankincense and myrrh While all manner of gifts were given, particularly popular were small terracotta dolls called Sigillaria Ever think dolls are a bit creepy? You’re about to find out why The Roman writer Macrobius explains that these pottery dolls were originally a substitute for the human sacrifices of the earliest Romans Basically, gift giving was a replacement for killing other humans

So next time you get a crappy pair of socks from great aunt Trudy, just think – at least she spared someone’s life 2 Coca-Cola made Santa Claus red Did you know that Santa used to wear a green coat until he was co-opted by Coca-Cola in the early 20th Century, and now he stands as the ultimate monument to how commercialization can shape even our most treasured cultural possessions? Well, actually, that is just a myth Coca-Cola themselves say they didn’t do it Santa Claus had appeared in numerous earlier illustrations wearing his red clothing

However, he has featured in their marketing heavily since the 1930s, and that has cemented his persona as a jolly, fat man The scarlet coat can possibly be traced as far back as the OG himself, St Nick Living in 4th Century Myra as a bishop, red and white were the traditional colors of his religious garments So, possibly over time, his bishop’s cloak was 1

Santa’s Little Helpers Santa keeps good company: Mrs Claus, flying reindeer, and a host of chirpy little elves Well, it depends on who you ask If you go around Europe you start to get a very different idea of Santa’s Little Helpers Often, instead of Santa giving you coal if you are naughty, he decides to delegate punishment to a whole host of devilish sprites

The most famous of whom are the Krampus In parts of Austria, these chain brandishing demons are said to carry off children to their lairs In France there is Père Fouettard [pear foo-tar], a butcher who lures lost children onto his kitchen top and chops them up Finally, there is Knecht Ruprecht in Germany, who does the dirty work and carries presents down the chimney for Santa However, he also takes a rod with him to beat the naughty children

I think Santa needs to be a better judge of character Merry Christmas and thanks for watching Alltime10s Check out our other video, which has 10 Must Know Facts About Christmas – there’s even more you didn’t know!

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