And a partridge in a pear tree

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With Christmas just around the corner, the Whiteoaks team are dusting off their Christmas jumpers ready for the annual Christmas Eve tradition of jumpers and cheesy chips in a local hostelry. This got me thinking about Christmas traditions, where they come from and things we didn’t know about Christmas. For instance, why do people kiss under mistletoe, where did wrapping paper originate and is it true Santa is red because of Coca Cola?

So here are my top festive facts to give you something to impress your friends and family with over the Christmas break:

  1. The word Christmas was first recorded in 1123 and comes from the Old English Christes Maesse (Christ’s Mass).
  2. The earliest reference to a Christmas tree was in 1835 with the Christmas pudding following in 1858. Although Sir Henry Cole started the custom of sending Christmas cards in 1843 they were not referred to as Christmas cards until 1883.
  3. The first song broadcast from space was Jingle Bells on 16 December 1965.
  4. The only Shakespeare plays to mention Christmas are Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Taming of The Shrew.
  5. Simon Cowell has more Christmas number ones than the Beatles, with his X Factor winners hogging the top spot over the festive period (with the exception of Joe McElderry).
  6. Consumers in Ireland spend the most money at Christmas.
  7. Henry VIII had turkey for Christmas in the sixteenth century, making it the norm — something that persists today.
  8. Christmas dinner comes with a health warning and experts state that it contains more than 7000 calories — something to think about in January when the diets begin!
  9. The Germans made the first artificial Christmas trees out of dyed goose feathers.
  10. According to Facebook data, two weeks before Christmas is one of the most popular times for couples to break up.
  11. 1957 saw the first ever televised Queen’s Christmas speech.
  12. Santa has different names around the world — Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia
  13. In Norse mythology, kissing under the mistletoe is thought to spring from Freya, the goddess of love, who was associated with the plant. Or it’s associated with trickster Loki who killed Balder with a mistletoe arrow after Balder’s mother tried (and failed) to protect him from absolutely everything!
  14. Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid in 1984 is the bestselling Christmas song ever.
  15. Although Coca-Cola helped with the evolution of Santa’s image, the red and white outfit has been around since the 4th

These are just some of the numerous Christmas traditions, and with some of them having been around for centuries, it is difficult to imagine how they might change. Technology has changed everything around us both in our personal and professional lives, and as a nation that loves to reminisce and practice handed-down traditions, how has technology affected that?

We can now send Christmas cards via email and social media — it’s free, instantaneous and environmentally friendly, but for me nothing beats the personal touch and the sentiment behind sending a Christmas card. Christmas decorations are becoming more high-tech – there are LED lights, electronic ornaments, lights set to music, inflatable and animatronic characters, and even smartphone apps that allow you to turn your lights on and off remotely. Dyson engineers have even built a Christmas tree with floating ornament. However, I’d be impressed if someone designed a tree that the dog can’t knock over!

Skype and FaceTime applications have made it so you can spend time with your family, virtually, but for me, it doesn’t beat a trip to Wales! Kids can also keep a track on Santa’s whereabouts using websites and applications from Google or NORAD to see exactly when he will be arriving.

And do we even have to mention how the internet has changed our Christmas shopping habits?

For my final festive fact, I want to draw your attention to the most successful festive film ever – Home Alone. This year, the film is 25 years old and watching it on the weekend, I got thinking about what it would be like now and how modern technology could have helped Kevin beat the Wet Bandits!? He could use his tablet to monitor the house and turn the lights on to show someone was home. And surely Kevin could just Skype his family to let them know he is ok? But in this case, technology would really take away the spirit and fun of Christmas.