Nail the dinner table chit chat with these 20 weird and wonderful Christmas facts

Published 19th Dec 2017
Updated 19 th Dec 2017

A very American Christmas

Did you know Christmas was once illegal in the USA? In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England disapproved of Christmas, and celebrating it was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked by English governor Edmund Andros but it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.

Put your money where your mouth is

Fairytale Of New York is a bonafide classic. But did you know the song came about because of a bet? Elvis Costello wagered Pogues’ front-man Shane MacGowan and co-writer Jem Finer, the band’s banjoist, that they couldn’t write a Christmas hit that wasn’t slushy. No prizes for guessing who won that one. The song reportedly earns the duo about £500,000 annually.

Turkey power

Every year millions tuck into a traditional Christmas turkey dinner but did you know these birds are actually very fast runners? They can run a staggering 25 miles per hour so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to catch one in time for dinners. And they can even fly up to 55 miles per hour. They’re not as daft as what they look either as wild turkeys also sleep high up in the trees to stay safe from hungry predators.

Where’s Tim?

Ask film buffs to name a Tim Burton film and many will come up with The Nightmare Before Christmas. What many don’t know, however, is that Burton did not actually direct the movie. That job fell to Henry Selick,“It was my job to make it look like ‘a Tim Burton film’, which is not so different from my own films. I don’t want to take away from Tim, but he was not in San Francisco when we made it.”

Red nose Reginald


Did you know that Rudolph the red nose reindeer was nearly called something else? His creator, Montgomery Ward, considered calling Santa’s helper Rollo or Reginald but thankfully realised Rudolph sounded catchier. The famous reindeer also nearly didn’t have a red nose because at the time a red nose was seen as a sign of alcoholism and it was thought he would look like a drunkard.

Fancy a festive family bucket this Xmas?

Kentucky Fried Chicken has become a Yule tide tradition for millions of people in Japan? Although it might seem slightly bizarre, this festive favourite has become a hit with locals and expats alike with an estimated 3.6 million reaching for a family bucket every Christmas.It’s so popular than diners have to preorder their dinner two months in advance.

Where is the love?

We search for the Christmas spirit and Santa at Edinburgh’s Bar Hütte

The Muppet Christmas Carol may be widely accepted as one of the greatest Christmas films of all time but did you know there’s actually a scene missing from the movie? Belle’s breakup song to Ebenezer, ‘When Love Is Gone’, was deemed too slow, sad and Muppet-free to make it to the final cut. It is still available to watch on YouTube though, just make sure you have a tissue ready and Kermit to hug.

Party pooper

In Catalonia, nativity scenes contain more than just a baby Jesus. In fact it’s common practice to include El Caganer, or The Pooper, a small figure of a defecating man. There’s no concrete meaning behind this slightly bizarre tradition, however, some do interpret the pooping figurine as a sign of fertility. Although The Pooper is often depicted as a peasant, it’s not unusual to include pooping celebrities.


“Keep the change, ya filthy animal...” might be one of the most unlikely lines from a Christmas film but did you know the gangster movie that inspires Kevin in Home Alone was actually a fake? Angels with Filthy Souls was made in one day especially for the festive film and lasts just 1.20. The title of the fake movie was a likely reference to the 1938 movie, Angels with Dirty Faces.

What a feast!


The best Edinburgh restaurants and bars to try in the run up to Christmas

Did you know the The average Brit will consume over 5,000 calories on Christmas Day alone (and a whopping 190g of fat)? That’s nearly three times the recommended daily intake for women and over twice the recommended amount for men. The research from Wren Kitchens also revealed that nearly a day’s worth of calories will be consumed before the festive lunch even begins. Time for the gym?

Time to tune in

If you like to put your feet up with the tele after Christmas dinner you’re not alone. New research from ScS has revealed that 34 per cent of Brits will tune into Coronation Street, where 31 per cent will watch the EastEnders Christmas special. 29 per cent will watch Strictly Come Dancing and 26 per cent will watch Doctor Who. But just 25 per cent of us will tune into the Queen’s speech.

The costume that stole Christmas


If you’ve seen The Grinch you won’t be surprised to know it actually took eight and a half hours to get Jim Carey looking like the ultimate Christmas villain. Carey even described the costume as, “literally like being buried alive every day,” and was trained by CIA operatives how to enndure torture.

Scottish chefs and producers share their Christmas dinner plans, as well as some festive food tips

Secret military messages in White Xmas

White Christmas by Irving Berlin may be one of the most famous festive songs of all time but did you know the US military actually used it to communicate a secret message to its troops during the Vietnam war? The classic song was used as a covert signal by the American military in April 1975 after it was played over Armed Forces Radio to signal to soldiers in Vietnam to evacuate Saigon.

Merry Krampus?


If your little ones are a bit scared of Santa Claus then you’re probably best not to introduce them to Krampus. Created by the Brothers Grimm, Krampus is still big in the likes of Germany, Austria, Croatia and surrounding countries. The half-goat, half-demon creature visits during the Christmas season and punished badly behaved children. So just be lucky all you might have had is a lump of coal.

Build a snow giant

Next time you build a snowman take inspiration from the residents of Bethel, Maine, in the USA who built a 122 ft 1 inch high snow woman in 2008. It took one month to build the colossal sized snow woman, named Olympia, and used 13 million pounds of snow. Olympia also had eyelashes which were made from eight pairs of skis, lips made from five red car tires and a 48-ft-wide fleece hat.

A festive feast


In Home Alone 2 Kevin orders the following treats to his room tab: two chocolate cakes, six mousses with chocolate, vanilla, strawberry ice cream topped with M&Ms, choc sprinkles, cherries, nuts, marshmallows, caramel syrup, chocolate and strawberry syrup, whipped cream, bananas, six custard flans, a pastry cart, eight strawberry tarts and 36 chocolate-covered strawberries.

Pucker up

Mistletoe has long been associated with kisses at Christmas time but its origins are anything but romantic. Dating back to the late 18th century in England, tradition stated that a man was entitled to kiss any woman standing beneath mistletoe and should she refuse, bad luck would befall upon her. Fortunately this superstition has died off and women are safe to refuse all unwanted kisses!

Let your heart be light

In 1944, Judy Garland sang Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis - and a Christmas classic was born. But when songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane originally penned the song, the lyrics were very different to the song we all know and love. The original opening lyrics sang, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last”... Delightful.


We heart mince pies

The UK is obsessed with mince pies and each person eats an average of 27 mince pies every year, and nationwide we demolish a total of 370 million! But did you know our beloved Christmas treat was once illegal in the UK? Oliver Cromwell allegedly banned mince pies and Christmas puddings during the 1600s in a bid to tackle gluttony, so eating them on Christmas Day was just down right illegal.


Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?

As well as topping the list on an ITV nationwide poll in the UK to find ‘The Nation’s Favourite Number One’ back in 2012, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is the only song to be Christmas No.1 twice by the same artist. The song first topped the Christmas charts in 1975, then following Mercury’s death in November 1991, the song was re-released and became the UK’s Christmas No.1 again.



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