Is there anyone alive who can remember when we did not celebrate Christmas in Nigeria? It seems like Christmas is a part of our culture as Nigerians. This has not always been the case, there was a time our fore fore fathers woke up on December 25th (they didn’t even keep this calendar) and went to their farms before the white guys came to ‘save’ them. Even the white guys did not always celebrate Christmas too. So how well do you really know your Christmas facts?
- Jesus was not born on December 25th, his birthday was just fixed for December 25th to replace the ‘pagan’ lunar festival. In A.D. 350, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ
- The first artificial Christmas tree was made by Germans out of dyed goose feathers
- Green, red and gold were adopted as the traditional colors of Christmas because of their symbols. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
- The idea of Santa Claus or Father Christmas like we say in Nigeria is based on St. Nikolas, aka, Nikolaos the Wonderworker, Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, and Nikolaos of Bari, who was born in Patara. He is the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, pirating, butchery, sailing, thievery, orphans, royalty, and New York City.
- According to legend, the idea of Christmas stockings evolved from three sisters who were too poor to afford a marriage dowry and were, therefore, doomed to a life of prostitution. They were saved, however, when the wealthy Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna (the precursor to Santa Claus) crept down their chimney and generously filled their stockings with gold coins.
- The first person to decorate a Christmas tree was reportedly the Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). According to legend, he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree, he brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children
- Christmas is a contraction of “Christ’s Mass,” which is derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse (first recorded in 1038). The letter “X” in Greek is the first letter of Christ, and “Xmas” has been used as an abbreviation for Christmas since the mid 1500s.
- The Viking god Odin is one precursor to the modern Santa Claus. According to myth, Odin rode his flying horse, Sleipnir (a precursor to Santa’s reindeer), who had eight legs. In the winter, Odin gave out both gifts and punishments, and children would fill their boots or stockings with treats for Sleipnir.