Christmas tidbits to put you in the holiday spirit

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The holiday season has arrived, and millions of people across the globe will be celebrating Christmas with their families and friends. The following are some interesting tidbits to share with your loved ones this holiday season.

· Each year, more than three billion Christmas cards are sent in the United States alone.

· In 350 AD, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birth of Jesus Christ. Many historians and theologians have surmised that Christ really wasn’t born this time of year, thanks to imagery and information from the Bible.

· Christmas carols began as an English custom called “wassailing.” Individuals toasted neighbors to a long and healthy life.

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· Despite the common tale that three wise men paid homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never specifically calls out a number. Similarly, there’s no specific indication that they visited the infant Jesus. Their visit may have occurred when Jesus was older.

· Santa Claus’ modern look was inspired by writings from The Knickerbockers of New York and imagery from Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore denied authoring the famous poem for 15 years after it was published anonymously, feeling the poem was beneath his talents.

· Santa has his own official postal code. It’s H0 H0 H0.

· The song “Jingle Bells” was originally written for Thanksgiving and not Christmas. People loved it so much that the lyrics were changed to fit Christmas.

· Christmas trees typically grow for 15 years before they’re cut and sold. This means the trees sold today were likely planted in 1999.

· Christmas was not declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.

· Before turkey, the traditional Christmas meal served in England was a pig’s head and mustard.

· Male reindeer tend to shed their antlers in the winter. This means Santa’s reindeer are likely female.

· Christ may have been born in a cave rather than a manger. According to the gospel of Luke, the shepherds that helped find shelter for Mary to give birth kept their flock in a cave. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave called the Grotto of the Nativity, where Jesus is believed to have been born.

· Many people may be less inclined to stand under mistletoe waiting for a kiss if they knew what “mistletoe” means in the ancient Germanic language. It literally means “dung on a twig,” for the bird who eats the berries and then leaves seeds in droppings to propagate new plants.

· Each holiday season, PNC Wealth Management calculates the costs of the gifts in the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The price index for the gifts went from $12,673 in 1984 to more than $24,000 in 2011. The most expensive gift is the swimming swans.

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