Twenty things you might not know about Christmas

Christmas crackers
Christmas crackers

Here are 20 fascinating festive facts surrounding the most magical time of the year.

1 Turkeys taken from Norfolk to be sold at market in Victorian London were fitted with boots made from sacking or leather to protect their feet from the rough roads.

Christmas pudding is tradtionally stirred from east to west.

Christmas pudding is tradtionally stirred from east to west.

Going crackers

2 The world’s largest Christmas cracker was made – and pulled – in Australia in 1991. It was a whopping 150 feet long by 10 feet in diameter.

3 There are towns called Santa Claus in the American states of Indiana and Idaho.

4 Good King Wenceslas, of carol fame, was actually the 10th century Duke of Bohemia.

Santa

Santa

5 The first meal eaten on the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was cold roast turkey.

6 The fir tree, its triangular shape thought to represent the Holy Trinity, was hung upside down in homes at Christmas as a symbol of Christianity.

7 While being made, the Christmas pudding is traditionally stirred from east to west in honour of the Three Wise Men who came from the east.

8 The first known Christmas card was created by JC Horsley in America in 1843.

Turkeys wore boots to protect their feet when they were being driven from Norfolk to London in the Victorian era.

Turkeys wore boots to protect their feet when they were being driven from Norfolk to London in the Victorian era.

9 Santa has Coca-Cola to thank for his modern image as a fat, jolly chap in a red and white suit. That’s how he was shown in post-war advertising for Coke and the image stuck.

10 Sir Isaac Newton, Humphrey Bogart and Alice Cooper were all born on Christmas Day.

11 Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1640 when real silver was used.

12 The Christmas cracker was the brainchild of English confectioner Tom Smith, inspired by the sight of sugared almonds wrapped in coloured tissue paper while on a trip to Paris. He got the idea for the snap as he sat by the fire and a spark crackled from a burning log.

13 The tradition of the monarch’s Christmas broadcast was started by the Queen’s grandfather, King George V, in 1932. His message was written by the author Rudyard Kipling.

14 The first postage stamp to commemorate Christmas was issued in Austria in 1937.

15 Children’s favourite Jingle Bells was actually written for the American Thanksgiving holiday in 1857.

16 The traditional Ukrainian festive feast features 12 courses, one of each of Christ’s apostles.

17 Electric Christmas tree lights were first used in 1895.

18 Stollen, the moist cake with marzipan, almonds, raisins and candied peel, is said to resemble the shape of the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

19 On Christmas Eve in Belgium, it is legal for children to thrown bananas at police cars.

20 Holly is a favourite decoration at this time of year. The pointed leaves are said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolise the blood he shed.