Photo by Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

At this time of the year most of us are thinking about Christmas and the joy of sharing happy times with friends and families. Today let's explore some other Christmas Connections and Trivia.

When I was growing up in Sydney, I knew Christmas was approaching as we started to see the large, beautifully coloured Christmas beetles.

The Christmas beetle (some examples above) is found across Australia, with the exception of our deserts and the reason we only see these colourful insects during the festive season has nothing to do with Saint Nick! The end of spring and start of summer is when the larvae hatches.

Sadly the beetles are much smaller these days and less numerous, due to urban sprawl and the drier years we have been experiencing recently. With La Nina in effect now, and the chance of more rain, we hope to see more Christmas beetles in the coming years.1

Did you know Australia has a small island named Christmas Island?

Located 2600 km north-west of Perth and closer to Asia than to mainland Australia, it acquired its name when the first European, Richard Rowe who sailed past the island on Christmas Day on board the Thomas in 1615.

A national park covers most of the 135-sq-km island, offering rainforest hikes to wetlands and waterfall. Native wildlife includes nesting seabirds and the red crab, a land species known for its late-fall migration to the sea.

Christmas Island’s mass red crab migration is one of the most incredible natural processes on Earth. Every year, millions of large crabs emerge from the forest and make their way to the ocean to breed, swarming across roads, streams, rocks and beaches.2

And... you guessed it, often around Christmas time.

Watch this short video for a glimpse of the fascinating migration.

I became curious about other connections to Christmas and discovered these snippets:

What is the largest Christmas Present Ever Given?
The Statue of Liberty bestowed by France on Christmas Day in 1886.

Why do people go door to door singing carols?
The tradition is based on the English custom of wassailing, which was a tradition to toast to someone’s good health and fortune. St. Francis of Assisi took this tradition and converted it to the modern form of carolling.3

Did Santa always dress in red?
Santa Claus initially wore clothes that were in green, purple, or blue. For many years, this was the common theme for the jolly old man at the North Pole. However, Coca Cola (as shown above) decided to dress him up in colours that match their brand and that stuck. So this is why he is always in red clothes now! 4

When were Christmas trees first used?
The origin or the use of decorated trees goes way back to ancient Egyptians and Romans. They used evergreen trees like fir or pine trees, wreaths, and garlands to decorate their homes and brighten their spirits during the winter solstice. Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia, while ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.5

And the use of modern Christmas trees started in Germany in the 16th century. Instead of the glitzy decorations that we see on them today, they were decorated with fruits and nuts.4

Why is Christmas abbreviated to Xmas?
Are you surprised to know ‘Xmas’ dates back to the 16th century. The ‘X’ in the word Xmas comes from the ancient Greek language. In Greek, Christ begins with the letter X. So, Xmas simply means Christmas.4

What is the significance of Mistletoe?
Mistletoe is supposed to be a symbol of love, laughter, and compassion. And the tradition of a kiss under the mistletoe is supposed to be a way of asking for the blessings of the spirits of Christmas through the mistletoe.4

Is the tradition of giving of Christmas cards in decline?
NO!! I am thrilled to tell you that my local TV station recently reported a 20% surge in the sales of Christmas cards this year – and to my surprise the leaders in this growth is attributed to millennials! Apparently during the pandemic florists also experienced an increase in sales.

Firstchristmascard Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Although history indicates Christmas greetings have been sent since the C16th, the custom of sending Christmas cards, as we know them today, was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole.

Sir Henry had the idea with his friend John Horsley, who was an artist. They designed the first card and sold them for 1 shilling each. (That is only 5p or 8 cents today(!), but in those days it was worth much much more.) The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people caring for the poor and in the center panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner.

Earlier in 1840 Henry Cole also introduced the Penny Post - a public postal system. Along with cheap postage and improved printing methods Christmas cards became much more popular and were produced in large numbers from about 1860.6

How wonderful that this tradition lives on. Christmas cards can have so many themes - religious, humorous, include animals, sold to support charities, old fashioned or topical, recognising famous cartoons or famous artists - as you can see from the selection below.

Credits

  1. australiangeographic.com.au
  2. australiantraveller.com
  3. allchristmas.fm
  4. parenting.firstcry.com - interesting-factsabout-christmas-for-kids
  5. abc.net.au
  6. whychristmas.com