Tolkien wrote yearly letters to his children as if they were from Father Christmas. They started off as simple Happy Christmas letters but grew more complex including a polar bear sidekick, the man on the moon, goblins, snow-elves, pictures, and he even developed an Arktik language.
10th century Norwegian Viking ruler King Haakon the Good made the household production of Juleøl (Christmas Beer) a law. Families that did not have beer at their Christmas feast were issued a fine.
Long before Christianity made its way to the native Germanic peoples, Norwegians celebrated the winter solstice by brewing and drinking beer to honor their Norse gods. To celebrate “Jul,” a Norwegian word that in modern vernacular refers to the Christmas season, Vikings brewed and consumed strong, barley-based beer while in the throes of winter’s coldest and dreariest months. They also used the ale to make offerings in hopes to entice the gods to bring back the summer sun.
According to “The Geography of Beer,” King Haakon the Good, who ruled from 934 to 961, later used the ancient Jul celebration to push a Christian agenda. As part of his efforts to introduce Christianity to the Norwegian people, King Haakon the Good implemented a pagan-meets-Christian mash-up, making it a law to celebrate Christmas with beer. Those who didn’t have beer at their Christmas feast were issued a fine. Norway became Christianized in the 11th century.
Natives in Canada had a traditional gift giving holiday nearly identical to Christmas called Potlatch until it was outlawed for being unchristian, hundreds of natives were sent to prison for continuing to celebrate it from 1921 until the law was finally repealed in the 1950s.
Many Christmas traditions come from the Roman holiday Saturnalia. During Saturnalia, work and business came to a halt. Schools and courts of law closed, and the normal social patterns were suspended.
People decorated their homes with wreaths and other greenery, and shed their traditional togas in favor of colorful clothes known as synthesis. Even slaves did not have to work during Saturnalia, but were allowed to participate in the festivities; in some cases, they sat at the head of the table while their masters served them.
Instead of working, Romans spent Saturnalia gambling, singing, playing music, feasting, socializing and giving each other gifts. Wax taper candles called cerei were common gifts during Saturnalia, to signify light returning after the solstice.
Every Christmas season, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to Kentucky Fried Chicken, in what has become a nationwide tradition.
The Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer story idea was initially rejected, as in the 1930s red noses were associated with alcoholism and drunkards. The author asked an illustrator friend to draw “cute reindeer,” and these drawings convinced management to support the idea.
Since those involved in the Rudolph TV special had no idea of the future value of the stop motion puppet figures, many were not preserved. In 2005, the remaining two puppets of Rudolph and Santa appeared on Antiques Roadshow, damaged from years of rough handling by children and attic storage. On the show, their appraised value was between $8,000 and $10,000. Sadly, the other puppets in the hot attic “melted.” These are the only remaining puppets left.
The figures have been shown at conventions since then, after being restored in 2006. They were successfully sold at auction on November 13 of 2020, netting a $368,000 sale price, doubling the expected return.
There is a “Christmas Tree” (actually a large bush) located in the median of I-17 in Arizona, which has been decorated every year for over 30 years by an unknown group of persons.
In 2015, a radio DJ in Austria barricaded himself into his studio and played Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ 24 times in a row. He did it as a protest for lack of holiday spirit, and only stopped after his 4-year-old daughter called in to complain.
Paul McCartney recorded the song Wonderful Christmastime entirely on his own during the sessions for his second solo album. In 2010 it was estimated that the song earns $400,000 a year, putting the overall earnings at $15 million.