No celebration, religious or secular, dominates western society as thoroughly as Christmas. For nearly two months of the year we find ourselves awash in all the trappings of the season: Christmas cards, Christmas music, Christmas trees, Christmas lights
— even Christmas postage stamps! Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus dot the landscape, and images of Santa Claus are inescapable during the two-month long advertising blitz mounted by purveyors of merchandise. A celebration so venerated, so long-lasting, and so ubiquitous — rich with traditions of both religious and secular origins — could scarcely avoid creating a rich legacy of folklore and legends. Here is but a sampling of some of the many tales we associate with Christmas and the holiday season.
Video captures home Christmas light display synchronized to a musical score.*
Jesus was born on
The Bible says that exactly three wise men traveled from afar on camels to visit the infant Jesus as he lay in the manger.
The character 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' was created by a father to bring comfort to his daughter as her mother was dying of cancer.
Two of Santa's reindeer were originally named 'Dunder' and 'Blixem,' not 'Donner' and 'Blitzen.'
The suicide rate increases significantly during the winter holiday season.
Poinsettia plants are poisonous to humans.
Man dressed as Santa Claus gets stuck in chimney and dies.
Christmas display features a smiling Santa Claus nailed to a cross.
The term Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Jesus by the Virgin Mary.
The name of Boxing Day comes from the need to rid the house of empty boxes the day after Christmas.
The origins of the yule log.
Candy canes were created to symbolize Jesus, their shape representing the letter "J" and their colors standing for the purity and blood of Christ.
A nativity play takes an unusual turn when the innkeeper departs from the script.
The holiday season abounds with superstitions.
Christmas cards date to 1843.
The true story about two brothers-in-law and a pair of pants swapped back and forth between them.
The song The Twelve Days of Christmas was created as a coded reference to important articles of the Christian faith.
'Xmas' is a modern, disrespectful abbreviation of the word 'Christmas'.
The ultimate fruitcake recipe.
Mixup with Christmas cards results in embarrassing faux pas.
The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year in America.*
A blow-up doll clad in pantyhose caused hilarity.
Toys left with a Wal-Mart to be donated to needy kids were returned to shelves for resale.
A U.S. serviceman wrote a poem describing a soldier's lonely night before Christmas
Another U.S. serviceman wrote a poem describing a soldier's night before Christmas.
Misheard lyrics to Christmas songs are immortalized as 'mondegreens.'
German and British front-line soldiers sang carols, exchanged gifts, and played soccer during a World
Power companies are fining customers for keeping their holiday lights up too long.
Law firm issues Seussian response to a motion by opposing counsel for the court to ignore a lawyer's Christmas vacation request.
E-mails from company's Human Resources Director document the difficulties of office
Photograph shows child crying upon seeing Santa Claus' grave.
In Canada, Santa's postal code is H0H 0H0.
Story about baby smothered under pile of partygoers' coats imparts reminder to not forget Jesus in holiday celebrations.*
Fans in Philadelphia once booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus.
The modern image of Santa Claus was created by the
All of Santa's reindeer are female.
Article describes the physics involved in Santa's delivering presents all over the world.
Photograph shows holiday display depicting a homeowner trapped by a fallen ladder while installing Christmas decorations.
Photograph shows "the world's largest Christmas tree display."
A fired department store Santa gained revenge by spelling out a crude message in lights.
Photograph shows a Christmas card featuring a family photo taken at a jail.
Photograph shows a "thank you" sign to Jews from the Chinese Restaurant Association of the U.S.
Video shows holiday lights in Brighton which incorporate rude images and messages.
NORAD annually tracks Santa's progress because a wrong phone number in a newspaper advertisement was once misdialed.
The opening line of the Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" means "God make you mighty, gentlemen."
Jingle Bells was written as a Christmas song.