Fun Facts About Christmas, and do Asian Countries Celebrate Christmas?
By Lina Zhu
Fun Facts About Christmas
“Jingle Bells” was written for Thanksgiving, not Christmas.
The song was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont and published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh.” It was supposed to be played in the composer’s Sunday school class during Thanksgiving as a way to commemorate the famous Medford sleigh races. “Jingle Bells” was also the first song to be broadcast from space.
Hanging stockings started by accident.
According to legend, we hang stockings up by our chimney, thanks to a poor man who did not have enough money to buy dowries for his three daughters. Generous old St. Nick dropped a bag of gold down their chimney, where the girls hung their stockings to dry. That’s where the gold ended up, and the tradition began.
Two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up.
According to data analyzed from Facebook posts and statuses, couples are more likely to end their relationship two weeks before Christmas and two weeks after Valentine’s Day. Christmas Day, however, is the least favorite day for breakups.
Celebrating Christmas used to be illegal.
When the Pilgrims settled in Boston, the celebration of Christmas had been outlawed. From 1659 to 1681, anyone caught making merry would face a fine for celebrating. After the Revolutionary War, this day became so important that Congress even held its first session on December 25, 1789. Christmas was not declared a federal holiday for the next century.
Christmas wasn’t always on December 25.
While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, there is no mention of December 25 in the Bible. In fact, most historians assume that Jesus was born in the spring. And his birthday itself didn’t become an official holiday until the third century. Some historians believe the date was actually chosen because it coincided with the pagan festival Saturnalia, a celebration in honor of the agricultural god Saturn.
Christmas decorating sends nearly 15,000 people to the ER.
If you’ve seen Clark Griswold decorate his house over the Christmas holidays, you probably won’t be surprised. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,700 people visit hospital emergency rooms each November and December for holiday renovations, so be careful when getting on your ladder.
Do Asian Countries Celebrate Christmas?
Japan | The major religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shinto. Less than two percent of Japanese claim to be Christians so Christmas is more of a commercial event that Japanese people celebrate for fun. It is common for Japanese parents to give Christmas presents to their children at Christmas. Corporate offices and malls are sometimes decorated for the occasion.
The Philippines | More than 90 percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, making the Philippines one of two predominantly Christian countries in Southeast Asia (East Timor is the other). Christmas is celebrated publicly throughout the country, aside from a handful of places where Islam is the predominant faith. As for the rest of the country, a strong emphasis on religion can be seen during the Christmas holiday. You’ll even hear Christmas songs being played in October as the country gears up for one of its favorite holidays!
South Korea | Christmas is more widely celebrated in South Korea, as Christians make up about 30 percent of the population.
However, another 70 percent of South Koreans are Buddhist (about 25 percent) or have no religious affiliation, so if they celebrate Christmas, it’s more for the joyous sentiment the holidays bring. Unlike In Japan, Christmas is an official public holiday in South Korea, but Koreans still need to go to work or school on Boxing Day, the 26th. One of the biggest differences between South Korean and Western Christmas celebrations is the food. Koreans typically celebrate it by eating more traditional dishes.
China | In China, only about one percent of people are Christians, so most people only know a few things about Christmas. Because of this, Christmas is only often celebrated in major cities. Christmas is not an official holiday in China, so most offices, schools, and shops remain open. Although it is not an official holiday, Chinese people still get in the holiday spirit around the 25th of December just for fun. During Christmas time, there are Christmas trees, lights, and other decorations on the streets and in department stores.
Vietnam | Known in Vietnam as Noel, Christmas is one of the major festivals in the country, celebrated with much fanfare by all religious communities. Despite the fact that Buddhism is the dominant religion and Christians form only a minority, the people love celebrating the spirit of Christmas, predominantly on Christmas Eve when they attend a Midnight Mass. There are also French influences in the Christmas traditions from years of French colonial rule.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city, people like to go into the city center on Christmas Eve to enjoy the light shows and decorations, eat out, throw confetti, and take pictures. Children in Vietnam love Santa Claus.