This is a subcategory of Holidays
This abbreviation started with the Greeks. "X" is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ: Xristos. So saying or writing "Xmas" is the same as "C-mas."
When distributing gifts in Holland, St. Nicholas is accompanied by his servant, Black Peter; who is responsible for actually dropping the presents down the chimneys. However, legend claims that Peter also punishes bad children by putting them in a bag and carrying them away to Spain.
When visiting Finland, Santa leaves his sleigh behind and rides on a goat named Ukko. Finnish folklore has it that Ukko is made of straw, but is strong enough to carry Santa Claus, anyway.
Yuletide-named towns in the United States include Santa Claus, located in Arizona and Indiana, Noel in Missouri, and Christmas in both Arizona and Florida.
If traveling in France during the Christmas season, it is interesting to note that different dishes and dining traditions reign in popularity in different parts of the country. In south France, for instance, a Christmas loaf (pain calendeau) is cut crosswise and is eaten only after the first part has been given to a poor person. In Brittany, buckwheat cakes and sour cream is the most popular main dish. In Alsace, a roasted goose is the preferred entrée. In Burgundy, turkey and chestnuts are favored. In the Paris region, oysters are the favorite holiday dish, followed by a cake shaped like a Yule log.
In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Festivities were banned by Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell, who considered feasting and revelry, on what was supposed to be a holy day, to be immoral. The ban was lifted only when the Puritans lost power in 1660.
In 1947, Toys for Tots started making the holidays a little happier for children by organizing its first Christmas toy drive for needy youngsters.
In an effort to solicit cash to pay for a charity Christmas dinner in 1891, a large crabpot was set down on a San Francisco street, becoming the first Salvation Army collection kettle.
In Armenia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of fried fish, lettuce, and spinach. The meal is traditionally eaten after the Christmas Eve service, in commemoration of the supper eaten by Mary on the evening before Christ's birth.
In Australia, usual Boxing Day activities include surfing. Christmas comes to the land down under in the summer.
In Brazil, Christmas is celebrated with fireworks.
In Britain, eating mince pies at Christmas dates back to the 16th century. It is still believed that to eat a mince pie on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas will bring 12 happy months in the year to follow.
In Britain, the Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551, which has not yet been repealed, states that every citizen must attend a Christian church service on Christmas Day, and must not use any kind of vehicle to get to the service.
In France, Christmas is called Noel. This is derived from the French phrase les bonnes nouvelles, which means literally "the good news" and refers to the gospel.
In Greek legend, malicious creatures called Kallikantzaroi (also spelled Kallikantzari) sometimes play troublesome pranks at Christmas time. According to the legend, to get rid of them, you should burn either salt or an old shoe. Apparently the stench of the burning shoe (or salt) drives off the Kallikantzaroi. Other effective methods include hanging a pig's jawbone by the door and keeping a large fire so they can't sneak down the chimney.
In Guatemala, Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25; however, Guatemalan adults do not exchange gifts until New Year's Day. Children get theirs (from the Christ Child) on Christmas morning.
In Medieval England, Nicholas was just another saint — he had not yet been referred to as Santa Claus and he had nothing to do with Christmas.
In Mexico, the poinsettia is known as the "Flower of the Holy Night." It was first brought to America by Joel Poinsett in 1829.
In northern France, children are given their gifts on December 5th, Saint Nicholas Day, instead of Christmas Day.
In Norway on Christmas Eve, visitors should know that after the family's big dinner and the opening of presents, all the brooms in the house are hidden. The Norwegians long ago believed that witches and mischievous spirits came out on Christmas Eve and would steal their brooms for riding.
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