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Christmas

Christmas History: Facts, myths, folklore and trivia pertaining to the celebration of Christmas and the origins of seasonal holiday traditions.

The 12 Days of Christmas (Lyrics)
A comparison of old and new lyrics of the traditional Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

The 12 Days of Christmas
A popular theory purports to reveal the "secret meaning" of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," claiming it was an "underground catechism song" to help Catholics practice their faith despite religious persecution in Protestant England.

About.com's Christmas Folklore Quiz
How did the third-century monk St. Nicholas come to be associated with Christmas? Are poinsettias really poisonous? What do the red and white stripes of candy canes symbolize? Take the Christmas Folklore Quiz and test your Yule knowledge.

Are All of Santa's Reindeer Female?
Is it true that male reindeer lose their antlers by December, therefore all of Santa's reindeer -- including Rudolph -- must be female?

Are Poinsettias Poisonous?
Is it true that poinsettia plants are poisonous if ingested, especially by small children and pets?

Christmas at Arlington Cemetery
Viral images purportedly show Christmas wreaths adorning the headstones of every fallen soldier interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Christmas Banned in the White House?
Forwarded email rumor claims President Obama and his family will have "holiday trees" instead of Christmas trees in the White House this year, and no ornaments with religious themes will be permitted.

Santa's 7th Reindeer: Donner, Donder or Dunder?
What IS the correct name of Santa's seventh reindeer? Is it Donner, Donder or Dunder? We've gone back to the original sources to try to find an answer.

Christmas Cards for Recovering American Soldiers
Netlore: Email flyer claims Christmas cards can be sent to wounded servicemen and women at Walter Reed Army Medical Center by addressing them to "A Recovering American Soldier."

'The Night Before Christmas' Parodies
A dozen or so homages to the most famous Christmas rhyme, compiled by your Guide (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore).

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The 'True' Story
Forwarded email claims the story of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by Montgomery Ward copywriter Bob May to console his 4-year-old daughter after her mother died of cancer.

A Christmas Carol
Web edition of Charles Dickens' classic story, "A Christmas Carol."

The Christmas Confessions of Ben Stein
Netlore: Circulating via email, a commentary on the state of American culture attributed to author, pundit, actor, and game show host Ben Stein.

'Christmas House' - Extreme Christmas Lights Display
Amazing - and real - online video of a suburban house decorated with animated Christmas lights synchronized to music.

Christmas: Origin and History
Copious references to historical documents set this history of Christmas above the rest. Laborious to read but highly informative. From The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Christmas Trees: Origin and History
David Beaulieu traces the history of the Christmas Tree from the Romans' use of evergreen shrubs to celebrate the December feast of Saturnalia through the late adoption of decorated trees by Puritan-influenced Americans.

Clement C. Moore: The Reluctant Mythmaker
Story of the presumed author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," a source of our modern conception of Santa Claus and his reindeer. See also: parodies of "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

The Coca-Cola/Santa Claus Connection
Did a soft drink company invent our modern image of Santa Claus? To some extent, yes! Article from the Boston Phoenix.

Electric Christmas Tree Lights: Origin and History
"Like so many things electrical," writes 19th Century History Guide Robert McNamara, "the history of electric Christmas lights begins with Thomas Edison." One of America's distinctive contributions to Christmas traditions.

The History of Christmas
The History Channel traces the origin and history of Christmas from pagan midwinter celebrations through the reinvention of the Christmas holiday in modern popular culture.

Kissing Under the Mistletoe - Origins
David Beaulieu delves into Norse mythology and Celtic folklore to uncover the origin of the Christmas tradition of kissing under a sprig of mistletoe.

The Mistletoe Bough
Published circa 1830, the original ballad by Thomas Haynes Bayly and Sir Henry Bishop which probably served as the inspiration for later versions of "The Missing Bride"

The Neiman Marcus ($250) Cookie Recipe
Here is a "true story" almost everyone has heard by now -- the infamous $250 Cookie Recipe, most recently associated with the Neiman Marcus company, but previously (during the 1980s) the bane of cookie diva Mrs. Fields.

Luke 2:1-20
Origin of Christmas, King James Version.

Origin of the Abbreviation 'Xmas'
A crass attempt by secular humanists to "take Christ out of Christmas"? Not so, says author Dennis Bratcher, who observes that the Greek letter X has stood for Christ for centuries.

Origin of the Candy Cane
Do the red and white stripes have Christian significance? Does the "J" shape stand for "Jesus," or a shepherd's staff? Who really invented this tasty treat that also serves as a Christmas tree decoration, and why?

Saint Nicholas
The story of the real-life Saint Nicholas, whose likeness evolved over the course of centuries into the mythic character we now know as Santa Claus.

Santa Claus - The Evolution of Santa
From The History Channel, an account of the legend of Santa Claus, traced from the earliest tales of St. Nicholas through the origin of the reindeer.

Send a Christmas Card to the ACLU
Netlore: Forwarded email urges recipients to flood the New York offices of the ACLU with Christmas cards because "they are working so hard to get rid of Christmas."

The Star of Bethlehem
From Space.com: Astronomers use history and the latest computer technology to try to explain the "Star of Bethlehem" reportedly seen by the Magi at the time of the birth of Christ.

Suicide Season?
Does the suicide rate increase during the Christmas season? Here are the true facts and figures behind the urban legend.

Symbols, Customs and Traditions of Christmas
Capsule explanations of some time-honored holiday customs.

A Visit from St. Nicholas (The Poem)
The original poem attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, though there is some controversy about its authorship. See also: parodies of the celebrated Christmas poem.

Why Do We Celebrate Christ's Birth on Dec. 25?
The actual date of Jesus Christ's birth is unknown, but beginning in the second century some Christians began celebrating Christmas on December 25. Mary Fairchild explains why.

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus
The original editorial written by Francis P. Church and published in the New York Sun exactly 100 years ago. Also, the story behind the famous piece.

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