Traditional recipes

What Santa Sells: 10 X-Mas Food and Drink Commercials

What Santa Sells: 10 X-Mas Food and Drink Commercials

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Santa is known for the twinkle in his eye, his jolly laugh, and his penchant for products

Santa has peddled everything from baking soda to cigarettes.

Santa Claus isn’t exactly a saint. Nick, but don’t be fooled by the ho-ho-hos. Underneath that beard of white is a corporate shark, one who happily peddles himself out to promote any product he can during the holidays.

Relax, we’re 90 percent kidding.

The other 10 percent, well, we have proof to support our argument. Granted, Santa Claus morphed over time from the Catholic saint to the most beloved, and believed in, fictional character. Santa’s look was conceived in the early 20th century with L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, a 1902 children's book.

From there, Santa and his iconic image (thick white beard and reindeer, etc.) began to develop. But when Coca-Cola got a hold of Santa, they really helped define him and his look as we know it today. In 1930, artist Fred Mizen first painted a department-store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke. In 1931, illustrator Haddon Sundblom drew inspiration from the descriptive poem>‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and debuted his Santa in The Saturday Evening Post. From there the image began regularly appearing in other publications like Ladies' Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker, and others.

Since then Santa has appeared in an innumerable amount of advertisements, some of them evolving into less than wholesome promotions. For years, Santa was the spokesperson for booze, lingerie, and a ton of cigarette ads when the holidays rolled around. While in modern times, Santa has certainly gotten his act together (OK, there are still some boozy Santa ads), he continues to pop up in some of our favorite products' holiday advertisements.

For instance, we all remember when Santa chose Pepsi over Coke in a few ads. Then there was the time that Santa got a little upset that a family ran out of milk for the Got Milk? campaign. We rounded up some of our favorite Santa food and drink commercials here so you could see how some of the most iconic products capitalize on the season.

This simple and festive soup will start your meal off right without weighing you down. It's hearty enough for a meal at any other time and the ingredients are incredibly affordable. If you've got a guest whose wallet is a bit on the lighter side, they can contribute this dish without breaking the bank. Sprinkle oyster crackers or crushed saltines over the top for a little crunch.

35 Best Christmas Appetizers to Serve at Any Type of Holiday Gathering

Let's be honest: Appetizers are always the star of the show.

There are several items that every Christmas dinner menu and Christmas Eve dinner menu absolutely must have. There are the tasty side dishes and the mind-boggling array of Christmas cookies, of course. Maybe a warm, cozy mulled drink like cider or wine too. But the part of the holiday feast that everyone is most excited for are the absolutely delicious Christmas appetizers. There's something so festive about serving beautiful trays of savory snacks that everyone will enjoy. In Christmases past, Ree Drummond hosted a holiday open house each year for friends and family where she made some of these delicious bites. "I'll put out a big ham and all the fixings, plus easy snacks for a crowd," she says. While you'll have to either scrap or modify your Christmas party ideas this year, there's nothing stopping you from making a feast of fun Christmas party food for your family to munch on.

For Christmas snacks that you can whip up in a flash, check out the fried goat cheese or the fig and blue cheese bruschetta. Both look impressive, but they won't take you longer than 25 minutes to make. There are also holiday favorites like stuffed bacon-wrapped dates and a couple of cheese ball varieties&mdashthe one that looks like a pine cone is insanely creative. No matter what your Christmas looks like this year, these holiday appetizers are sure to be a hit&mdashthey might even outshine your Christmas desserts!

2. ‘1914’

In 1914 on Christmas day, British and German soldiers on the Western Front forged a truce, which involved approximately 100,000 troops taking part in unofficial ceasefires and socialising with one another in celebration of the festive period.

In 2014, 100 years since the truce, Sainsbury’s released its advert depicting the event in partnership with The Royal British Legion.

All profits made from the sale of a £1 chocolate bar following the release of the advert were given to the charity to provide support for members and veterans of the British armed forces and their families.

100 Christmas quiz questions and answers for a festive virtual pub quiz

Quizzes and games will again be played across the country this Christmas, though this year they will be involving the likes of Zoom.

Whether they&aposre with work colleagues, friends or family, a festive quiz can help lift those spirits in the run-up to Christmas, or even on the big day itself.

To help we&aposve put together 100 questions about Christmas. Yes, that&aposs right, 100.

They are split into five groups - general knowledge, music, TV and film, food and drink and Father Christmas.

Each section has 20 questions with the answers immediately below, so no peaking.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Christmas quiz questions

Christmas general knowledge questions

1. What day of the year is Christmas Day in 2020?

2. Which animal carried Mary before she gave birth to Jesus?

3. Which world leader celebrates his birthday on Christmas Day?

4. When do the 12 Days of Christmas start?

5. Which country annually sends a Christmas tree to be erected in London’s Trafalgar Square?

6. Which monarch delivered the first Royal Christmas Day Message?

7. Which country is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition?

8. What happened in the 1914 Christmas Day truce during the First World War?

9. In which year was the first Christmas card sent?

10. What indispensable item for the Christmas table did Tom Smith, a confectioner, invent?

11. Which ocean can Christmas Island be found in?

12. In what type of building was the baby Jesus born in?

13. What is your star sign if you are born on Christmas Day?

14. What time is the Queen’s speech traditionally broadcast?

15. What gifts did The Three Wise Men give Jesus on his birthday?

16. Who was crowned King of England on Christmas Day in 1066?

17. Which country traditionally plays the Boxing Day Test Match every year?

18. Which plant based Christmas tradition was started by servants in Victorian Britain?

19. Which plant has bright red and green leaves and is sometimes known as the Christmas Flower?

20. How many ghosts appear in A Christmas Carol?

Christmas general knowledge answers

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8. A game of football between British and German soldiers

15. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Here&aposs something else making Christmas extra special this year: KFC’s new gravy Burger Box Meal

This year may have been tough but it’s good to remember it has also served up some incredible stories of kindness, determination and joy in communities across the UK. And we think that calls for more…gravy!

To add some festive cheer, and give us all more of what we love, the Colonel has a special gift for the nation: behold KFC’s new Gravy Burger Box Meal, featuring a fillet burger with added gravy! There’s also a new gravy boat to add lashings of legendary KFC gravy to your chicken burger, topped with a specially-dimpled hash brown that allows the gravy to pool over your meal.

The sides have had a gravy upgrade too, mayonnaise becomes Gravynnaise…yes, that’s mayo with added KFC gravy!

16. William the Conqueror (William I)

18. Kissing under mistletoe

Christmas music questions

1. True or false. Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You never made it to number one in the UK charts.

2. Who had a festive number one with Lonely This Christmas?

3. What is the biggest-selling Christmas single of all time?

4. Which song (exact same song and artist) has been Christmas number twice, 16 years apart?

5. Which band beat X Factor winner Joe McElderry to the Christmas number one spot in 2009 thanks to an online campaign?

6. Name the only two bands to have a Christmas number one in three consecutive years

7. Who was the only singer to perform the same line in Do They Know It&aposs Christmas? for Band Aid in 1984 and Band Aid 20 in 2004?

8. Which Christmas carol features these lyrics: “The stars in the sky, Look down where He lay, The little Lord Jesus Asleep on the hay”?

9. Which chart-topping Christmas hit single spent the most consecutive weeks at number one?

10. How many gifts in total were given in the 12 Days of Christmas?

11. In Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody, who is “up and rock &aposn&apos rollin&apos with the rest”?

12. Who was the only artist to add lyrics to Do They Know It’s Christmas? for Band Aid 20 in 2004?

13. Which carol was sung by British and German soldiers in the trenches during the 1914 Christmas truce?

14. Which actress sang with Robbie Williams for their 2001 Christmas number one Somethin&apos Stupid?

15. Which animated film features Aled Jones’ version of Walking in the Air?

16. Who was Christmas number one in 2018 and 2019?

17. Which Christmas carol tells the story of a duke of Bohemia (now modern-day Czech Republic)?

18. Which Christmas number one opens with the lines “Baby if you&aposve got to go away Don&apost think I could take the pain”?

19. What would the other reindeer not let Rudolph do in the song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

20. Which song beat Wham!’s Last Christmas to number one in 1984?

Christmas music answers

1. True - it finally reached number 1 on December 11 this year!

3. White Christmas by Bing Crosby

4. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (1975 and 1991)

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5. Rage Against the Machine

6. The Beatles and The Spice Girls

9. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (10 weeks)

18. Stay Another Day by East 17

19. Play in any reindeer games

20. Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid

Christmas TV and film questions

1. Who plays Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol?

2. When was Love Actually released?

3. Which city is Die Hard set in?

4. Where are the McCallisters going on vacation when they leave Kevin behind in Home Alone?

5. Who dresses up as an armadillo in the Friends episode ‘The One with the Holiday Armadillo’?

6. Which British actor starred as Kris Kringle in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street?

7. What happens to Del Boy and Rodney in the 1996 Only Fools and Horses Christmas special?

8. Last year’s John Lewis advert starred a young and excitable dragon. What was his name?

9. When was the last episode of Gavin and Stacey before last year’s Christmas special?

10. The 2012 follow-up to The Snowman is called The Snowman and what?

11. What does Father Ted Crilly win in the Father Ted Christmas special?

12. In which 2004 animated film about a magical adventure to the North Pole does Tom Hanks voice six characters?

13. Which villainous EastEnders character served his wife with divorce papers in the Christmas Day edition of the show in 1986?

14. Who did Nick save from a house fire in Coronation Street on Christmas Day in 2011? 1

15. Which US President made a cameo appearance in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York?

16. Who plays Buddy’s love interest Jovie in Elf?

17. Which classic sitcom is returning for a series of Christmas specials in 2020?

18. Which former EastEnders actress does Hugh Grant&aposs Prime Minister fall for in Love Actually?

19. Which actor made his first appearance as the Doctor in the 2013 Doctor Who Christmas special?

20. Which celebrity won last year’s Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special?

Christmas TV and film answers

7. They become millionaires

11. The Golden Cleric award

Christmas food and drink questions

1. What is traditionally hidden inside a Christmas pudding?

2. In which country is it now traditional to eat a KFC for Christmas dinner?

3. Which fruit is traditionally put inside a Christmas stocking?

4. What is the most popular vegetarian alternative to a turkey dinner at Christmas?

5. What name is given to small sausages wrapped bacon?

6. Butter is traditionally mixed with which spirit to make Christmas pudding?

7. Which ruler allegedly banned mince pies in Britain in the 1600s?

8. Traditionally, which way should mincemeat only be stirred to bring good luck?

9. Stollen is the traditional fruit cake of which country?

10. Before turkey, the traditional Christmas dinner included a pig’s head smothered in mustard. True or false?

11. What is “roasting on an open fire” in the famous Christmas song?

12. What’s the fastest time to eat three mince pies?

13. Back in Tudor times, what did women who wanted to find a husband eat in the hope of finding a partner?

14. Which country first introduced eggnog?

15. What fruit can be stored alongside Christmas cake to keep it moist?

16. What would you traditionally find under the icing of a Christmas cake?

17. Which tin of chocolates often found at Christmas features ‘the purple one’?

18. Who served up figgy pudding in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?

19. What did turkeys in Norfolk wear in Victorian England when they were walked to London?

23 Bountiful Gift Baskets of Food We Actually Want to Eat

What is a holiday without delicious food? If you’re in search of the perfect delectable treat for your nearest and dearest, these gift baskets will definitely answer the call. From seriously delightful chocolates to scrumptious mini pies, we’ve rounded up the best gift baskets that will help you and your loved ones ring in the holidays with sugar, spice and everything nice.

Deluxe Christmas Bakery Basket

This basket was made for opening and enjoying on Christmas morning. It's filled with assorted English muffins, chocolate swirl cake, cinnamon rolls, scones and other baked goods to give someone special the brunch of their dreams.

Martha Stewart Holiday Sweets

No one does gift baskets better than Martha Stewart. Give your friends with a sweet tooth a box of her favorite sweet treats. We promise it won't last long.

Rastelli's Large Gift Crate

This is a large gift crate of 14 cheese board staples that any food lover will swoon over. For $159, you get cheese, meats, olives, fruits and more. If you're looking for something on the smaller side, opt for the small size crate for $89. This crate comes with two options. Through December 31, Food Network fans can use the code FOOD35 for $35 off orders $150 or more.

Fall Mule Kit

It's easy to give, and have, a cup of cheer with this exclusive cocktail set. It's filled with raspberry, pear rosemary and pomegranate mixers to give classic Moscow Mules a seasonal lift.

Classic Holiday Caramel Apple Gift Basket

Whether you give this goodie-filled basket to a close friend or a family member, there's no doubt it'll be the apple of their eye.

The Holiday Basket

Bread Basket NYC is a company all about getting New York City's best carbs to the whole country. You can choose from a variety of packages, but we think The Holiday Basket is the perfect gift to send starting Thanksgiving and beyond.

Soup Gift Basket

This comforting soup basket is a great way to indulge when the weather outside is frightful.

Deluxe Antipasto Assortment with Wine

Perfect for the holiday host, this basket is stocked full of sweet and savory favorites like dried fruit, salami, stuffed olives, crackers, chocolates and artichoke hearts. It also comes with bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Gris that can be served on Christmas day or used to toast the New Year.

Premier Orchard Fruit Gift Basket

This elegant basket makes it easy for friends and family to deck the halls with pears, apples, kiwis and oranges this holiday season.

6 Pack Sweet Pie Bundle

Nothing says happy holidays like six mini dessert pies in different flavors. These home baked goodies come in caramel pecan, chocolate chess, French coconut custard, buttermilk (the bakery’s signature!), cherry and apple! Trust me, they’re so adorable and delicious you’ll have a hard time giving them away.

Wolferman's Cinnamon Roll Christmas Tree

This little cinnamon roll Christmas tree is as festive as it is delicious! It features 10 icing-clad cinnamon rolls placed in the shape of a Christmas tree and adorned with red and green sprinkles.

Iced Coffee Kit

Coffee-lovers won't be able to hide their excitement when they open up this DIY cold brew coffee basket. Give it to them a few days before Christmas Eve, so they can be adequately caffeinated when staying up all night trying to spot Santa's sleigh with the kids.

Harry & David Meat and Cheese Sled

If you're looking for a gift that errs on the side of savory over sweet, this is the gift basket for you. It contains moose munch, hickory-smoked summer sausage, Thuringer sausage, garlic jack cheese, sharp white cheddar, three-seed crackers, sesame sticks, pepper and onion relish and hot honey mustard all in a decorative wooden sleigh. It’s like a charcuterie board in gift basket form!

Stonewall Kitchen New England Morning Gift Basket

Make sure the breakfast lover in your life knows you thought of them with this all-breakfast, all-delicious basket from Stonewall Kitchen. It contains their farmhouse pancake and waffle mix, cinnamon bun mix, blueberry muffin mix, orange cranberry scone mix, cinnamon apple pancake and waffle mix, and lots of jams and syrups that are absolutely delicious.

The Beer Advocate’s Gift Basket

Not only does this include beers from Nantucket’s Cisco Brewery, Stella Artois, Fat Tire (and more!), it has lots and lots of delectable snacks. From sausages and cheeses to pretzels and cookies, this basket has everything you need to enjoy gameday or a holiday afternoon on the couch.

Large Cheese and Meat Gift Basket

If you haven’t tried Tillamook cheeses, you’re seriously missing out. Luckily, your friends and family don’t have to miss out because there are three giant blocks of the good stuff in this basket. It also includes some beef sticks, mustards and jams.

Zabar’s Morning Basics Gift Basket

Whether you’re looking for a gift for the New Yorker (or NYC lover!) in your life, or whether you just know some big bagel fans — you can’t go wrong with this gift basket from Zabar’s. The iconic NYC grocery store includes a half pound of their nova lox, bagels, cream cheese, cinnamon rugelach and their special blend of coffee.

Williams Sonoma Deluxe Cheese & Charcuterie Hamper

Calling all cheese lovers! This charcuterie box includes delectable meats and cheeses from around the world. It also includes different crackers, marinated artichokes, peppers and olives. All of this is wrapped up in a signature Williams Sonoma crate.


Send a taste of Japan to the person who loves to snack. Bokksu boxes come filled with a wonderland of snacks, candies and teas – from mochi to white strawberries to organic genmaicha – shipped directly from Japan. With 16 different treats, this bright orange box will keep your taste buds on their toes.

The Chocolatey Classic from Milk Bar

Milk Bar is known for their cakes and truffles — and that’s because they’re absolutely delicious. This little gift set features a 6-inch chocolate layer cake with creamy frosting and cakey crumbles, as well as chocolate cake truffles. Good luck convincing anyone to share.

Jeni’s Ice Cream Sampler

If the dessert-lover in your life is an ice cream fiend, we totally understand. You can’t go wrong with this box of six pints from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. It features unique store favorites like brown butter almond brittle and goat cheese and cherry. Don’t worry, there’s still a rich chocolate flavor that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

The Healer Collection - Chocolate Alchemy Truffle Box

This magical gift box is filled with 17 beautifully handcrafted chocolates that are nearly too pretty to eat. Each one features a rare ingredient that's said to have healing properties, like Japanese yuzu citrus, Lion's Mane mushrooms and pressed Mediterranean olive oil to give you a chocolate tasting experience unlike any other.

Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery Challah Bread Pudding Ice Cream

This delicious Challah Bread Pudding-flavored ice cream from Clementine's Creamery makes the perfect Hanukkah gift. It's studded with fluffy pieces of challah bread and contains delicious notes of salted caramel and Irish cream liqueur to give your nearest and dearest a frozen dessert unlike any other. The brand also offers a walnut and raisin infused Rugelach flavor and a zesty Sufganiyot one that contains pieces of actual yeast doughnuts!

Have Fun Learning English

Christmas Celebrations in the UK

With dictionary look up. Double click on any word for its definition.
This section is in advanced English and is only intended to be a guide, not to be taken too seriously!


Advent - (Four Sundays Before Christmas)

Advent is not widely celebrated in England, its celebration actually originated in Germany, although in the church calendar Advent is the official start of the run up to Christmas.

Two traditions that have caught on in England are the Advent calendar and the Advent candle. The Advent Calendar originated in the 19th Century from the protestant area of Germany. Protestant Christian families made a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. Before long, commercial entrepreneurs started replacing the ephemeral chalk lines with printed calendars. The first known Advent Calendar is for the advent of 1851. Nowadays it is usually a thin rectangular card with 24 or 25 doors. The doors are numbered 1-24/25. Door number 1 is opened on the 1st of December, door 2 on the 2nd etc. Behind each door there is a Christmas scene (but the most popular ones have a chocolate behind each door) .

An Advent candle often has 25 marks on it, a bit of the candle is burned down by one mark each day. In some homes, 24 candles are kept, one for each night from December 1 through Christmas eve. One candle is lit for a while on December 1, then a new candle is added each day for the 24 day period. However, it is now more common to have four candles for the four weeks before Christmas. One candle is lit on the first Sunday, two the second week and so on. The candles were often placed on a wreath upon the dining room table. Advent candles are lit in many homes, schools and churches, in England, with a final central candle lit on Christmas Day these are often on a hanging decoration known as an "Advent Crown." They became exceedingly popular due to a children's TV programme called Blue Peter, who every year made an advent crown from old coathangers, tinsel and candles! Well, they used to use candles, but because of health and safety insanity they now give instructions using baubles - it's not really the same, but you can make an advent crown following the instructions in this pdf file.

Christmas Eve - December 24th

In England less emphasis is placed on Christmas Eve than in other countries, much more is made of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Carol singing, midnight church services and going out to the pub are some of the activities that many families enjoy (sometimes all three activities can be combined into one fun night out!).

Night time on Christmas Eve though is a very exciting time for young children. It is the time when Santa or Father Christmas comes. They hang up their stockings and go to sleep. Santa and his elves make all the toys for Christmas in his home in Greenland. On Christmas Eve he piles all of the toys onto his sleigh and rides across the sky with his 9 reindeer (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner (or it may be Donder), Blitzen and of course . Rudolf!). The most famous one is Rudolf the who is always the one at the front, to lead the way with his red nose. In the morning when the children wake up they open their stocking presents. Traditionally on Christmas Eve mince pies and sherry (or milk) are left out for Santa and nowadays carrots are left for his reindeer. Most children are in bed way before midnight waiting for Santa to visit.

Christmas Day

The origins of the now traditional Christmas Celebration, distinct from earlier pagan winter holidays, date to sixth century England. By the middle ages, it was a well established important holiday, with traditional pageantry, customs, music and feasting all its own. Customs from pre Christian days were incorporated into the Celebrations, and many still remain.

However in 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal, all festivities were banned by the 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 Cromwell lost power in 1660.

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 There are a large number of Britons who break this law every year. The law may have been intended to encourage humility by forcing even the wealthy to attend the church on foot, or perhaps it was simply to avoid the traffic and parking crush that universal attendance would otherwise have brought about.

Later, during Queen Victoria's reign, Christmas became a time for gift giving, and a special season for children.

Nowadays, according to research by, of all things, Jarlsberg cheese, the average family gets out of bed just before 8am and is ready to start opening presents by 8.19am. Once the wrapping paper has been torn off all the presents, the family sits down to breakfast at 9.02am, but not before they have tucked into a bit of chocolate at 8.39am.

13 per cent of families always attend church on Christmas Day.

Unfortunately all the excitement and stress means that at precisely 9.58 on Christmas morning the first rows begin, and the average parent ends up losing it, and they start to tell off their children for the first time around 11.07am.

The strain of cooking the big Christmas dinner sees the average Brit start to sip their first alcoholic drink at 11.48am.

27 per cent of families sit down to watch the Queen’s Speech.

Dinner is finally served at 3.24pm, with 85 per cent of people enjoying the traditional turkey with all the trimmings.

All that food and drink means the first person falls asleep at around 4.58pm, with dad being the leader in losing the "staying awake" battle. Almost half of those who do nod off end up annoying the others with their loud snoring. For those who manage to stay awake, family board games are brought out at 5.46pm.

38 per cent of families think that spending time with the family is the best thing about Christmas Day.

The Queen's Message

One Christmas ritual not drawn from an ancient tradition is the British monarch's broadcast on Christmas day. The tradition began in 1932 when King George V read a special speech written by Rudyard Kipling. The broadcast was an enormous success . It began, "I speak now from my home and from my heart, to you all. ".

Queen Elizabeth II continues the tradition to this day. Every year she broadcasts her message on Christmas Day, and it is heard by millions of people all over the world. In England most people watch or listen to it whilst digesting their Christmas Dinner!

Boxing Day - December 26th

In England Boxing Day celebrated on December 26th, is traditionally a time to give gifts to tradesmen, servants, and friends.

It originated in medieval times, when every priest was supposed to empty the alms box of his church and distribute gifts to the poor. Wealthy people indulged in huge Christmas feasts, and when they were finished, packed up the remains of feasts in boxes and gave them out to their servants. It didn't become widely celebrated though until Victorian England.

In Ireland there is an Irish custom called "feeding the wren". The custom is based on a legend of St. Stephen. Once he was forced to hide in a bush, but a chattering wren gave him away. In the past Children caged the wren to help it do penance for this misdeed. Nowadays children carry a long pole with a holly bush at the top - which is supposed to hide a captured wren.

In the UK Boxing Day is still a public holiday, some shops and supermarkets open nowadays, but banks and most offices remain closed.

The Twelve Days of Christmas - December 26th to January 6th

The sixteenth century saw England first officially celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night premiered in the first year of the seventeenth century, in a performance at the court of Elizabeth the First.

Advent is usually solemn and religious in spirit, while Saint Steven's Day marks the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas, a light hearted time given over to merry making and fun. It is a holiday of heart-warming homecoming and family gatherings, with candles glowing in the windows as a sign of welcome.

During the ancient 12-day Christmas celebration, it was considered unlucky to let the log in the fireplace stop burning. This log was called the Yule log and would be used to light the fire in New Year, to ensure that good luck carried on from year to year. The Yule Log custom was handed down from the Druids, but with the advent of gas and electric fires it is rarely observed nowadays.

Another custom in medieval times, was to hide a dried bean in a cake, the cake was then eaten on Twelfth Night (January 6), during the most boisterous party of the year. The finder of the bean became "King of the Bean" and ruled the party for the night.

Another eating myth is that for every mince pie you eat over the 12 days of Christmas you will have a month of good luck the following year!

However, according to A Celebration and History(ISBN 0-679-74038-4), by Leigh Grant, the written lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" first appeared in Mirth without Mischief in the early 1780s in England. Grant states that the tune to which these words are sung apparently dates back much further and came from France. Mirth without Mischief describes "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as a type of memory game played by children at that time. A leader recited the first verse, the next child recited the second verse, and so on until someone missed a verse and had to pay some kind of penalty in the game. There was no religious significance. At anyrate the popular urban myth makes a good story. at least as good as the song itself, so here is a slice of urban myth culture for you: A very famous song about this time of year is "The Twelve Days of Christmas", which has a very interesting history. During the period 1558 to 1829 Catholics in England were prohibited from any practice of their faith by law - private or public. It was a crime to be a Catholic. Some people say that the song was written to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith during that period when to be caught with anything in 'writing' indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, but could also get you hanged, drawn and quartered! The song's gifts are allegedly hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. "True Love" mentioned refers to God. "Me" refers to every baptized person, here are the other lyrics and their other hidden meanings. However, some people say this is an Urban Myth, but you can make your own mind up.

If you want to know today's cost of this generous gift giving check out PNC Bank's web site.

New Year's Eve - 31st December

Christmas Food

There are several "traditional" meals you can have at Christmas. Here's a brief look at what the British nosh on Christmas day.

Christmas Dinner

In the past some very strange things were eaten around Christmas. At lavish Christmas feasts in the Middle Ages, swans and peacocks were sometimes served "endored". The flesh was painted with saffron dissolved in melted butter and the birds were served wrapped in their own skin and feathers, which had been removed and set aside prior to roasting.

Around Victorian times another traditional Christmas feast was roasted goose or roasted turkey. In Victorian times, most Londoners would have been familiar with the "goose club", which was a method of saving to buy a goose for Christmas. Goose clubs were popular with working-class Londoners, who paid a few pence a week towards the purchase of a Christmas goose. The week before Christmas, London meat markets were crammed with geese and turkeys, many imported from Germany and France, although some were raised in Norfolk, and taken to market in London. The birds were walked from Norfolk to the markets in London, to protect their feet the turkeys were dressed in boots made of sacking or leather and geese had their feet protected with a covering of tar. The traditional Christmas goose was featured in Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'.

Nowadays, if you sit down with a typical British family on Christmas day, the starter is probably going to be prawns or smoked salmon. The main course is more than likely to be turkey, often free-range and the bigger the better, although goose has been making a bit of a comeback, and for the vegetarian in the family (there's always one) a nut roast, this is normally served with potatoes (roasted, boiled, mashed, or maybe all three), vegetables (including the devil's veg - brussel sprouts) roasted parsnips, and stuffing with gravy and bread sauce. This is usually followed by Christmas pudding a rich fruit pudding served with brandy sauce or brandy butter.

Christmas Pudding

Christmas puddings or plum puddings are a very rich, dark pudding made with all sorts of dried fruits, nuts, spices, black treacle and lots of sherry or brandy. You can read more about Christmas puddings here.

Here's my Christmas pudding recipe (should be made in advance)

Christmas Cake

Christmas cakes are also very rich and dark and contain just about every dried fruit you can think of, nuts (usually blanched almonds) glace cherries, candied peel and once again, sweetened with black treacle. They are covered with a layer of marzipan or almond paste and then thick white "Royal" icing made with icing sugar and egg whites.

It was introduced as a custom by the Victorians. Prior to that period, cake was eaten during Christmas, but without the toppings. The idea of using marzipan is thought to be linked to the Tudor Marchpane an iced and decorated cake of marzipan that acted as the table centrepiece during banquets and festive occasions. They should be made about six weeks before Christmas and are usually decorated with ribbons and images of Santa Claus or robins with holly.

Here's my Christmas cake recipe (should be made in advance)

Mince Pies

Mince pies were often known as Christmas pies, they were banned in the seventeenth century by that killjoy Cromwell but eventually came back into existence after the Restoration. They are made with mincemeat – which doesn’t contain meat at all (see my recipe). The sweet, rich and fruity pies that we are now accustomed to developed early in the twentieth century when the meat content was removed for good and now the "mincemeat" is a mixture of dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, candied peel, etc.,) apples, spices, sugar and suet, often moistened with brandy or sherry, and baked in small pastry cases.

If the mincemeat is home made everyone in the household should stir it as it is considered to be lucky. The cases should be oval in shape, to represent the manger, with a tiny pastry baby Jesus on top, but as very few people have tins that shape they are nearly always round now.

Here's my recipe for mincepies and mincemeat.

Images of Christmas

Many Christmas traditions, including the Christmas card, originated in the UK. Yule logs, plum pudding, mince pies, fruitcakes, wassailing, the Christmas goose, mistletoe, holly and carol singing, are all firmly rooted in British soil.

Christmas Carols

Christmas carols have their roots in medieval England, when minstrels traveled from castle to castle, today they would be called carollers. In addition poor people in England would go wassailing, they would bring their mugs to the door of rich houses hoping for a share of the wassail bowl. The drink in the bowl was called lambswool. It was a brew of hot ale with sugar, eggs, spices and roast apples floating in it.

The book "A Christmas Carol" was written by Charles Dickens. It is the tale of a miser called Ebeneezer Scrooge who is visited by four ghosts (Jacob Marley, The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future). He was made to see the error of his ways and became a reformed character.

Today carollers generally collect money for charity. The 'Round Table' in England often sends a big sleigh with a Christmas tree and people singing and playing carols around the cities and towns of England. In Wales, each village may have several choirs which rehearse well in advance of the holidays and then go carolling collecting money for charity.

The Christmas Stocking and Santa Claus

The Story of St Nicholas (the original Santa Claus)

The real St. Nicholas lived in Turkey, he was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early 4th century. It was the Dutch who first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and Dutch settlers brought him to America where his name eventually became the familiar Santa Claus.

However, he is a very popular saint in England where there are almost 400 churches of St. Nicholas, more even than churches of St. George, England's patron saint. Many different stories are told to British children about Saint Nicholas, here is just one:-

Long long ago, in the days when Saint Nicholas was alive, there lived a kindly nobleman. He had a beautiful wife and three pretty young daughters, and all the money his family would ever need. But one day, the mother of the family, who was a sweet gentle woman, became very ill. The nobleman was frantic! He summoned the town's only doctor, a very old, very wise woman, who knew all there was to know about herbs and magic.

The old woman tried all the cures she knew, but she could do nothing to save the poor woman. Finally he called for the priest to come, but by that time his poor wife had passed away. The nobleman was in despair! He missed his wife so much that he lost his head. He wasted all his money away on silly projects and useless inventions. He became so poor that he had to move his family out of their castle and into a little peasant's cottage. Meanwhile his daughters were growing up. Poverty was difficult for them, but they remained cheerful and strong. They soon learned to do their own cooking, cleaning and sewing, and they took care of each other.

All three girls were very pretty. In time each of them fell in love and wanted to get married. But they couldn't because their father was so poor. He had no dowry (a sum of money or some valuable property) to give to the prospective husband's family. He felt he had failed his own children, and he became even more sad and gloomy.

Now, Saint Nicholas happened to live in the same area. The kindly saint had dedicated his whole life to doing good deeds, and was always on the lookout for someone in need. One night the saint came riding through the town on his white horse looking for the house of the nobleman and his three daughters. He rode up to the cottage and peeked in through a chink in the wall. That same night, the daughters had washed out their clothes by hand, and hung them up in front of the fireplace to dry. There were the stockings, three pairs, hanging right on the chimney. Inspiration struck Saint Nicholas. From his pouch he took out three little bags filled with gold coins. One by one he threw the bags down the chimney, so they landed in the stockings of the three daughters. The nobleman, worried about his daughters' futures, had terrible trouble falling asleep a night and was still awake. He heard the clip clop of the white horse as the saint was leaving, and peeked out of the door. He called out to Nicholas, but he had already disappeared into the dark night.

When the daughters woke in the morning, they found their stockings filled with plenty of money for their dowries. When they went to tell their father, they found him sleeping peacefully with a smile on his face. Saint Nicholas had taken care of all his worries. And so, through the goodness of Saint Nicholas the three daughters were able to marry the men they loved, and the nobleman lived on to be a happy grandfather.

St. Nicholas is a very hard-working saint, being the patron saint of children, merchants, apothecaries, pawnbrokers, scholars and mariners. He is reputed to be able to calm storms and rescue sailors. Even pirates have been known to claim his protection. Over the years he has become known as Santa Claus and even his now traditional red costume can be traced to Coca Cola advertising in America!

The tradition of hanging up the stocking is still followed in the British Isles. It is left out on Christmas Eve, along with mince pies, sherry and carrots for Santa and his reindeer, and even today most children are in bed way before midnight waiting for Santa to visit.

The stocking is opened by excited children on Christmas morning. Nowadays the gifts Santa Claus brings can be quite elaborate, in Victorian times it was traditionally fruit, nuts, sweets and coins.

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards became popular in Victorian England, they were mostly home made and given to loved ones. The first ever Christmas card was the brainchild of Sir Henry Cole, a leading cultural light in Victorian England who was later to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The first commercial Christmas card (pictured above) had a hostile reception from some people because it depicted a family, children as well as adults, drinking wine. The card was painted by John Calcott Horsley. It depicts a family feast, under which appear the words, "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You". Side panels illustrated acts of Christmas charity - feeding and clothing the poor etc..

However it was Louis Prang, a 19th-century German immigrant to the United States, who popularised the sending of printed Christmas cards. Prang was a Bavarian-born lithographer who settled in Boston, Massachusetts in the 1850s and established a successful printing business. He invented a way of reproducing color oil paintings, the "chromolithograph technique", and created a card with the message "Merry Christmas" as a way of showing it off. He went on to produce a series of popular Christmas cards. By 1881 he was printing more than five million cards annually.

The first charity Christmas card was produced by UNICEF in 1949. The picture chosen for the card was painted not by a professional artist but by a seven year old girl called Jitka Samkova of Rudolfo, a small town in what was then Czechoslovakia. The town received assistance from UNICEF after the Second World War, inspiring Jitka to paint some children dancing around a maypole. She said her picture represented "joy going round and round".

Nowadays most people buy their cards from Hallmark etc., they are sent before Christmas Day and people use them to decorate their houses. It can be an expensive affair though, some families send and receive well over 100 cards. But what could be nicer than a mantle piece decorated with beautiful cards bearing good wishes from friends and relatives.

Christmas Presents

Like many of our Christmas customs, gift giving has its historical origin in an ancient pre-Christian tradition. During the ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia, the harvest festival, small candles and clay figures were given. At Calens, the Roman new-year, more elaborate gifts were exchanged. The Romans believed that sweet gifts would ensure a good year, so fruits, honey, and cakes were popular gifts. Evergreen branches, were given as symbols of continuous health and strength. Wealthy Romans gave each other gold coins for good luck. Everyone gave gifts, children gave to their teachers, slaves gave to their masters, and the people gave to their emperor. Even though the three kings and others gave presents to the baby Jesus, gift giving did not become an established part of the Christmas celebration until several centuries after the birth of Christ.

Because the early Christians did not want their religion to be associated with pagan festivals, they shunned gift giving as a pagan practice. It was in the middle ages that gift giving began to be part of the Christmas tradition. The kings of England, like the emperors of Rome, demanded gifts from their subjects. The common people also exchanged gifts, but only among the wealthy were elaborate gifts given. The poor exchanged trinkets and entertained each other with songs and parties and plays.

Nowadays, the knitted pattern jumper is considered to be the worst present you could find under the tree, followed by a dustpan and brush and the dreaded socks.

Christmas Crackers

Christmas Crackers have been a part of the traditional British Christmas since1847, when almost by accident, Tom Smith invented the cracker. They are used to decorate the table at dinner.

In it's simple form a cracker is a small cardboard tube covered in a brightly coloured twist of paper. When the cracker is 'pulled' by two people, each holding one end of the twisted paper, the friction creates a small explosive 'pop' produced by a narrow strip of chemically impregnated paper. Inside the cracker there is usually a tissue paper hat, a balloon, a slip of paper with a very corny joke on it (for example: "What does Santa call his blind reindeer?" "No-eye-deer!" / "Where do fish wash?" "In the river basin!" / "What do you get if you cross a sheep with a kangaroo?" "A wooly jumper!" /" What lies in a pram and wobbles?" "A jelly baby!" ) and a small gift (usually a little cheap plastic thing e.g. a plastic ring or nail clippers).

The family will pull each other's crackers before the meal starts, this often involves crossing arms and pulling two crackers at once. The person who gets the "big end" keeps the plastic trinket. The paper hats are donned, and the jokes read out, accompanied by moans and groans at how awful they are. Then, and only then, can the meal begin.

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees are an integral part of the Christmas decorations in most British households. Although it was always traditional to bring evergreens into the house the Christmas tree is another tradition borrowed from Germany, where it is said that German Martin Luther was the first person to decorate a tree with candles and bring it indoors to show his children what stars looked like at night in the forest. It didn't become popular in Britain until the nineteenth century, when Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert introduced the custom from Germany.

Nowadays in the UK you will find a variety of trees, from real trees with roots that can be replanted after the festivities, to felled trees that get recycled, to plastic imitations that get unpacked every year. No one seems to be able to agree which is the most environmentally friendly option. The tree will be decorated with lights (candles are a rarity due to the risk of fire), tinsel, baubles, chocolate figures and coins, and the obligatory angel / fairy on the top.


Mistletoe was considered sacred by the people of ancient Britain. The Druid priests used it in their sacrifices to the gods.It was believed to have magical properties. People who met under a tree bearing mistletoe were forbidden to fight, even if they were enemies, and anyone who entered a home decorated with mistletoe was entitled to shelter and protection. Mistletoe may even have been part of Druidic wedding ceremonies. The Celtic people believed it had miraculous healing powers. In fact the name for mistletoe in the Celtic languages is all heal. mistletoe could cure diseases, render poisons harmless, make humans and animals fertile, protect the house from ghosts and bring good luck.

In eighteenth century England mistletoe was credited, not with healing power, but with a different kind of magic. It was the magic element in the kissing ball, a special decoration used at Christmas parties. The kissing ball had a round frame that was trimmed with evergreens, ribbons and ornaments. Tiny nativity figures were placed inside it. For the finishing touch, a sprig of mistletoe was tied to the bottom of the ball. It was then hung from the ceiling, and party goers would play kissing games underneath it. A kiss under the mistletoe could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and good will.

The mistletoe's kissing tradition, according to one account, comes from the Norse myths. Friga, one of the gods, gave her son, Balda, a charm of mistletoe to protect him from the elements, but because mistletoe grows neither from the water or the earth, nor from fire nor air, it grows on trees, it held the power to harm Balda. One of the other god's arrows made of mistletoe struck Bolda down, and his mother cried tears of white berries. She brought her son back to life, and vowed to kiss anyone who rested beneath the plant. Thus the kissing tradition began.

There is a limit to how much you can kiss under one sprig of mistletoe though. For each kiss a berry must be removed and once all the berries are gone - no more kissing!

The Holly and the Ivy

Holly, with its dark green spiky leaves and red berries, was also believed to have magical powers and the ability to drive demons away. In Germany holly was considered to be a good luck charm against the hostile forces of nature.

In old England, unmarried women were supposed to tie a sprig of holly to their beds, to guard them against ghosts and devils. the In medieval times, when people were genuinely afraid of ghosts and demons, supernatural creatures were believed to be especially active at Christmas time.

For the Northern Europeans, Christmas came in the middle of winter, when the nights were very long, dark and cold. The voices of Ghosts and demons, witches, goblins and werewolves could be heard screaming out in the winter winds and storms. So the magical powers of mistletoe and holly were taken quite seriously. In Roman times ivy was the ancient symbol of Bakus, the god of wine and revelry. Due to its association with pagan festivals, for a long time, ivy was banned from the inside of Christian homes, and used only to decorate the outside. Not so any more. Its green has become part of the traditional Christmas.

Other Christmas Decorations

Along with a tree, and bits of tree, holly, ivy and misteltoe, a lot of other materials are used to decorate the house at Christmas. Some people don't even stop inside the house and the most amazing displays of lights and various inflatables decorate their front gardens. Wonder round urban areas of the UK you can spot the houses that have entered into the "competitive" spirit of seeing who can cram the most stuff into the smallest space.

Inside the house you will typically find garlands, fake snow, nativity sets, candles, window decorations, and row upon row of Christmas cards. The table will be set (probably the only time in the year when the whole family sits down together to eat) with the best table cloth, glasses, crockery and cutlery.


Pantomime or "panto" is traditionally performed at Christmas, with family audiences consisting mainly of children and parents. British pantomime is now a popular form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, in-jokes, audience participation, and mild sexual innuendo. There are a number of traditional story-lines, and there is also a fairly well-defined set of performance conventions. Many theatres in cities and provincial towns throughout the United Kingdom continue to have an annual pantomime and it is very popular with Amateur Dramatics societies. The Pantomime season lasts from around December to February. You should be able to see pantomime productions in many village halls and similar venues across the country.

There are a few conventions, which can be a bit "surprising" if you're new to panto.

* The leading male juvenile character (the "principal boy") is traditionally played by a young woman, usually in tight-fitting male garments (such as breeches) that make her female charms evident.
* An older woman (the pantomime dame - often the hero's mother) is usually played by a man in drag.
* Risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience, but titillating to the adults.
* Audience participation, including calls of "look behind you!" (or "he's behind you!"), and "Oh, yes it is!" or "Oh, no it isn't!" The audience is always encouraged to "Boo" the villain, cheer the hero, and "Awwwww" any poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who usually fancies the prince.
* Sing-a-long, usually a song that combes a well-known tune with re-written lyrics is sung. The audience is encouraged to sing the song often one half of the audience is challenged to sing "their" chorus louder than the other half.
* The animal, played by an actor in "animal skin" or animal costume. It is often a pantomime horse or cow, played by two actors in a single costume, one as the head and front legs, the other as the body and back legs.
* The good fairy always enters from stage right and the evil villain enters from stage left. In the past the right side of the stage symbolized Heaven and the left side symbolized Hell.
* The members of the cast throw sweets to the children in the audience (although nowadays this is often not done due to health and safety restrictions).
* Sometimes the story villain will squirt members of the audience with water guns or pretend to throw a bucket of "water" at the audience that is actually full of confetti or streamers
* A slapstick comedy routine is often performed, often a decorating or baking scene, with humour based around throwing messy substances and custard pies in the face.

The Nativity Play

A Nativity play is a play, usually performed at Christmas, which recounts the story of the Nativity (birth) of Jesus.

Many primary schools and Sunday schools in the UK put on a Nativity play. Schoolchildren in costume act as the human and angel characters, and often as the animals and props. The infant Jesus is sometimes represented by a doll, but sometimes played by a real baby. Every year parents of young children dread the note from the school to say what role their child will play. Why do the dread it? Because they have to make the costume, and it's a very competitive thing. Parents are judged on the quality of the costume, children are judged on the role they get to play and how many lines they get to speak. If you're interested I got to play the star - not one line.

In the UK, increasing secularism and sensitivity in multicultural areas has led many schools to end the performance of Nativity plays, or significantly alter their content, causing others to complain about excessive political correctness. In 2014, there were reports of drunken spacemen, Elvis Presley, footballers, aliens, punk fairies, and a lobster (that must be a posh school) all making an appearance.

Another controversial topic is taking photographs or filming the play. Some schools have banned this because of fears of inappropriate use of the images. However, some canny schools then sell DVDs of the play.

The Nativity Scene

A nativity scene, or crèche, is a depiction of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Sometimes the scene is a static, three dimensional scene, but there are so called "living nativity scenes" in which real humans and animals participate.

A typical nativity scene consists of figures representing the infant Jesus, his mother Mary, and Mary's husband, Joseph. Some nativity scenes include other characters from the Biblical story such as the shepherds, the Magi, and angels. The figures are usually displayed in a stable, cave, or other structure.

Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 (a "living" one) intending thereby to cultivate the worship of Christ. The scene's popularity inspired communities throughout Christendom to stage similar pantomimes and eventually to create elaborate and ever more elaborate static exhibitions with wax, wooden and even ivory and precious metal figurines garbed in rich fabrics set against intricate landscapes.

The Wishbone

Chickens and turkeys contain a y-shaped bone known as the furcula (be careful how you pronounce that one), more commonly it is referred to as the wishbone. Traditionally this is removed from the carcass of the roasted bird, and dried out. It is then given to two people (usually children), who have to hook their little finger round an end each and pull it apart until it breaks, whilst making a wish. The person who gets the "bigger half" of the wishbone will have his or her wish "come true." Of course, in the great tradition of making wishes, you mustn't tell anyone what you wished for, or it won't come true.

Don't worry if you are a vegetarian. If Santa brings you a 3d printer, you can print one out: 3d printed wishbone

35+ Best Christmas Party Ideas to Help You Throw a Festive Bash

Invite a small group of your friends over to join you for a merry little holiday gathering with these fun and festive Christmas party ideas! We&rsquove rounded up some cute ideas to make prepping for the holidays feel more enjoyable and less like a chore. So settle in for an evening or afternoon filled with winter holiday drink recipes, holiday homemade food gifts, and maybe even few Christmas movies too!

From making Christmas wreaths to hosting a gift wrapping party, we have enough Christmas party ideas to cover each day all month long! Are you a crafter? Then you&rsquoll love our ideas for crafter-noon parties, from an ornament crafting party (with our favorite DIY Christmas ornament ideas and tutorials to get you started, no less) to a salt dough crafting party. You can even host your own cookie swap party where each guest makes their favorite Christmas cookie recipe ahead of time so each guest to take home a sampling of each cookie. Of course, your friends might just want to sit back and relax this year&mdashafter all, they&rsquove been busily prepping for the holiday, no doubt, and odds are they&rsquore more than a little tuckered out.

If that&rsquos the case, serve them some delicious Christmas appetizers, with a holiday playlist playing in the background! A hot chocolate bar is easy to throw together if you&rsquove got a slow cooker to keep things warm and toasty, while fondue can fee a crowd crowd and keep all your friends entertained. Better yet, give back this year and host a holiday toy drive. That's what the season's really all about!

Build a fire, curl up with your family and friends, and get in the spirit of Christmas with your favorite holiday classics, like The Polar Express, Home Alone, and Miracle on 34th Street. Serve fresh popcorn with optional popcorn seasonings like parmesan black pepper, cinnamon sugar, or everything bagel for a holiday treat. Don't forget the toasted marshmallow hot cocoa and the theatre candy brownies. To make things extra fun, ask guests to play Binge-Watch Bingo using buttons or popcorn to mark the squares.

Invite friends over to craft fresh holiday decor out of peppermint sticks and candy canes. The season's most ubiquitous treat is more versatile than you think! Besides candy canes, peppermint sticks and peppermints, hot glue guns, red cotton string, glass pillar candle holders, and festive ribbons are just a few must-haves.

Similar to a cookie exchange, invite your pals to come over with a their favorite savory holiday snack like these sweet and spicy coated nuts. Turn on your favorite holiday playlist, sip on some hot cocoa, and send everyone home with a cute container of treats like these hexagon jars adorned with a cinnamon stick and striped ribbon.

65 Christmas Party Food Ideas to Serve for the Holidays

The typical to-do list during the holiday season is enough to scare off even the most industrious among us. From shopping for unique gifts and wrapping presents to decorating the house and attending various social events, you're looking at one packed calendar. Add hosting duties into the mix, and chances are you're going to need an assist.

That's where we come in. We've rounded up a long list of the best Christmas party food ideas, so you can spend less time searching the internet and your arsenal of cookbooks for just the right thing. Whether you're hosting an open house with a buffet or a full-on dinner party for adults, these crowd-pleasing recipes will make your soiree one to remember.

There's no shortage of options from popular snacks, easy holiday appetizers you can serve any crowd, and finger foods, to simple make-ahead main courses and sides, and of course desserts and cocktails. Hey, there's even a few recipes for those of you who get tasked with bringing treats to any school functions. Now, go indulge in a classic Christmas flick with all that extra time you'll have on your hands.

Christmas Trivia

Did you know that each nation has its own unique way of commemorating Christmas? Have you ever wondered why we send Christmas cards? Decorate an evergreen tree and give it a place of honor in our home? Smooch a sweetheart underneath a parasitic plant? Did you ever wonder how Santa delivers gifts to children all over the world in just one night?

Can you guess this Christmas movie?

These questions and many more will be answered in this Christmas trivia article that&rsquos chock full of interesting, entertaining, and fun facts! Here&rsquos a preview:

    What is the meaning of gold? Frankincense? In this section, find out the significance of these Christmas symbols as you test your Christmas symbol trivia knowledge.

    Travel to any corner of the world and you&rsquoll see how different Christmas traditions can be. Read this trivia article to learn the answers to your questions about Christmas traditions of the world. Expand your Christmas traditions trivia knowledge.

    If you think you know all there is to know about Santa Claus, think again! In this section sharpen your Santa trivia skills with facts about Santa's aliases, Santa&rsquos favorite reads, and more.

    Where did this Christmas tree tradition come from? What is our great nation&rsquos national Christmas tree? Find out answers to these questions and more as you increase your Christmas tree trivia knowledge in this section.

    Did you know that carols can be traced back as early as 1350, but most of today&rsquos Christmas carols were written during the 18th century? Go to this page to discover entertaining facts like this and more as you test your Christmas song trivia knowledge.

    Can you name five classic holiday movies? Theater productions? You can find out answers to these questions and more as you test your Christmas entertainment trivia knowledge with the quick facts in this section of our Christmas trivia article. Visit this page to learn more!

    Besides Thanksgiving, Christmas is the only other time of the year where it&rsquos perfectly fine for people around the world to overindulge. Why? There are just too many foods and desserts to choose from -- so why not eat them all? Visit this page to learn all about Christmas food as you test your Christmas food trivia knowledge.

    Gift giving at Christmas is a big attraction of the day for many American families. Where did this tradition originate? What are some classic holiday toys? Read this section to find out everything you wanted to know about Christmas gifts as you expand your Christmas gift trivia.

    In the final section of our Christmas trivia article, we&rsquoll let you in on a few more Christmas trivia fun facts. Learn more about Christmas with our Christmas trivia quiz and fun facts in this section.

In the next page of our Christmas trivia article, test your knowledge of the meaning behind the different Christmas symbols.

Want to increase your Christmas knowledge? See:

Christmas is a holiday full of symbollism. Do you know the meanings of the different Christmas symbols? Test your Christmas trivia knowledge with the tidbits below.

What is the Meaning of Gold?

The gift of gold to the Christ Child is supposed to have come from Melchior, a king from Arabia, who, legend has it, was one of the Three Wise Men. His contribution is thought to have financed the Holy Family's flight into Egypt.

Gold came from Melchior.

Gold, as valuable today as it was in Christ's time, symbolizes immortality, divinity, purity, and the kingship of Jesus Christ.

What is the Meaning of Frankincense?

Tradition maintains that Balthasar, one of the Three Wise Men who came from the East to find the Christ Child, presented frankincense to the baby as a gift. By honoring him in this way, Balthasar fulfilled the prophecy that gold and frankincense would be brought from the Gentiles to honor the heavenly king (Isaiah 60 and Psalm 72).

Frankincense is an incense given to the baby Jesus.

Frankincense, a sweet gum resin from the Boswellia tree, is the purest of incense. When burned, it produces white smoke and a sweet smell, symbolizing the prayers and praises of the faithful as well as Christ's sacrifice and the divine name of God.

What is the Meaning of Myrrh?

Caspar, a king from Tarsus and one of the Three Wise Men, is believed to have given myrrh to the Baby Jesus.

Myrrh is known for its medicinal value and was used in ancient times for cleaning wounds and sores, as an analgesic, and for embalming the dead or anointing kings.

Myrrh is actually an aromatic gum resin that oozes from gashes cut in the bark of the commiphora tree. It hardens into teardrop-shaped chunks and is then pounded into powder or mixed to make ointments and perfumes. It is named for its bitter taste and symbolizes the Suffering Savior, the Great Physician, and Christ's human nature.

What is an Advent Wreath?

The season of Advent is the beginning of the church year for Christians. It starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and ends on Christmas Eve. Meaning "arrival," Advent is a celebration of the birth of Jesus and his eventual return.

Many families celebrate this holy season by lighting an Advent wreath. A circular evergreen wreath is laid flat and adorned with four candles around the wreath and one in the center. It is very symbolic of:

  • The circular shape of the wreath epitomizes God himself, his endless mercy, and eternity, which has no beginning or end.
  • The green pine boughs signify hope in God and eternal life.
  • Candles reflect the light of Jesus coming into the world.

The four purple candles around the wreath stand for the four Sundays of Advent and for the four centuries between the time the prophet Malachi predicted the coming of the Messiah and the actual birth of Jesus. One purple candle is lit for each Sunday in Advent, with one candle lit on the first Sunday, two on the second Sunday, and so on, until all four candles are lit on the fourth Sunday. The white center candle symbolizes Christmas Day and is lit on that day.

What is the History of the Christmas Card?

People have been sending
Christmas cards for over 150 years.

The time-honored tradition of sending Christmas cards began more than 150 years ago in England. Sir Henry Cole, a renaissance man who wrote and published books on art and architecture, was too busy to write holiday greetings to friends and family, so he asked John Callcott Horsley, a well-known painter, to design a card with a single message that could be sent to everyone on his list.

Horsley created a lithographed, hand-colored sketch printed on cardboard. The illustration depicted a classic Victorian Christmas scene of a family merrily eating and drinking. The caption read, "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You."

The first Christmas card appeared in the United States in the mid-1800s, when New York engraver Richard Pease designed a card with a small Santa Claus, a sleigh, and reindeer.

In 1875, Louis Prang, who wrote and published architectural books, printed images in color with a series of lithographic zinc plates. The finished product resembled an oil painting. These cards were so in demand that Prang couldn't fulfill all of his orders. At one point Prang was printing five million cards a year. His efforts earned him the moniker, "The Father of the American Christmas Card."

Today, everything from clever verses and holiday scenes to geometric designs and sports figures grace the fronts of cards. An average U.S. household mails out 28 Christmas cards each year and receives the same number in return. More than three billion Christmas cards are sent annually.

As we've learned, the Christmas symbols often hold religious significance. Test your religious Christmas trivia about the meaning of the nativity scene, the word "Xmas," and the Good King Wenceslas in the next section.

Religious Christmas Trivia

The first Christmas crib was
assembled in 1223.

Test your religious Christmas trivia knowledge with the fun questions on this page. Do you understand the ancient beliefs behind the various Christmas songs? Do you know the meaning of the word "Xmas?" Find out.

Can you Describe the First Live Nativity Scene?

In a cave on a windswept Italian mountainside, Francis of Assisi assembled the first Christmas crib in 1223. The Christ Child, placed on an altar of stone, and two live animals -- an ox and a donkey -- were its only occupants.

Today, a tiny monastery surrounds the cave, which still remains relatively undisturbed by the years. The idea behind the crib was to make the story of Christ's birth more vivid in the minds of shepherds and farmers who lived there. The townspeople were very enthusiastic -- they were the ones who suggested the ox and donkey.

What is the belief behind the Twelve Days of Christmas song?

One of the holiday's best-loved songs, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," marks the longest holiday in the Christian calendar -- the time between Christmas Day and Epiphany, celebrated on January 6.

The song's origin is unknown, but some believe the song was written to help Catholic children remember various articles of faith. These are:

A partridge in a pear tree

Two turtle doves
Old and New Testaments

The Twelve Days of Christmas Song
represents the various articles of faith
in Catholicism.

Three French hens
Faith, Hope, and Charity

Four calling birds
Four Gospels

Five golden rings
The first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, which records the history and laws of ancient Israel

Six geese a-laying
Six days of Creation

Seven swans a-swimming
Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the Seven Sacraments

Eight maids a-milking
Eight beatitudes

Nine ladies dancing
Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten lords a-leaping
Ten Commandments

Eleven pipers piping
Eleven faithful disciples

Twelve drummers drumming
Twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed

Where is the World's Largest Nativity Scene located?

With more than 450 figures and hundreds of yards of landscape, the world's largest diorama of the Nativity is found in Einsiedeln, Switzerland. In the 1930s, crib maker Ferdinand Pottmesser built a giant Christmas crib along with hundreds of figurines.

Pottmesser sold the collection to Einsiedeln in the mid-1950s, and the figurines became the impetus for creating a giant diorama -- a copy of the landscape of Bethlehem and a visually accurate representation of the story of the birth of Christ.

The diorama starts with angels awakening the shepherds with news of the birth of Jesus and ends with Joseph and Mary fleeing into Egypt to escape Herod and his soldiers. The diorama attracts thousands of visitors every year.

What is the Meaning of the Word &ldquoXmas?&rdquo

Some people think of Xmas as a contemporary, sacrilegious abbreviation of the word Christmas. On the contrary, the first letter of the word Christ in the Greek language is chi, which is identical to the modern Roman alphabet's X.

Xmas is an ecclesiastical abbreviation.

Therefore, Xmas is an ecclesiastical abbreviation that has been used for almost as long as Christmas has been in existence.

What is the story behind The Birthplace of Jesus?

It was prophesied in Micah 5:2 that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the future King of the Jews. Indeed, this small Judean city near Jerusalem became the site of the Nativity. Bethlehem, which means "house of bread," was also the home of David, one of God's favorite kings.

Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger.

Though the exact location of Jesus' birth is unknown, the story maintains that Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger, or food trough. In those days, stables were made of stones or situated in a cave.

Around A.D. 326-330, Empress Helena, wife of Constantine, built a church over the cave thought to be Jesus' birthplace. The church was rebuilt in the sixth century, and pieces of the original building still remain. It is said to be the oldest Christian church in existence and one of the most genuinely holy sites in the Holy Land.

This altar inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is believed to mark the exact place of Jesus' birth.

Who was Good King Wenceslas?

&ldquoGood King Winceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen when the snow lay round about deep and crisp and even.&rdquo King Wenceslas, about whom John Neale wrote this carol, became Duke of Bohemia in A.D. 924. He was a man of great faith who worked diligently to thread Christianity throughout Bohemia.

King Wenceslas served his people very well, especially the children and the poor. But his reign lasted only five years. His brother, Boleslaw, invited Wenceslas to a religious festival, then attacked and murdered him on the way there.

Now that you&rsquove discovered some surprising new religious trivia, continue to the next page. There, you'll travel to England, Mexico, and Germany to test your Christmas traditions trivia.

Christmas Traditions Trivia

Christmas traditions around the world can be nearly identical to the way you celebrate Christmas, somewhat the same, or they can be entirely different. Do you know how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico? Germany? Test your Christmas traditions trivia knowledge with the facts below.

There are many different ways Christmas is celebrated around the world.

How do Mexicans celebrate Christmas?

Mexicans celebrate the birth of Jesus with las Posadas, nine days of preparation during which the story of the Nativity is reenacted each day. These days lead up to Noche Buena (Holy Night) or Christmas Eve. Most families go to mass, then head home for dinner with family and friends. The highlight of the evening is placing Baby Jesus in the manger in the Nativity scene.

To prepare for the celebration, the house is decorated with pottery bowls of fruit brightly colored paper ornaments colorful confetti tinsel-trimmed maracas star-shaped piñatas filled with oranges, tangerines, peanuts, and candy canes red, green, and silver tablecloths small lanterns and candles and, of course, a Nativity scene.

The spread for Feliz Navidad includes:

  • Roast turkey, ham, or suckling pig
  • Biscayan cod
  • Tamales
  • Stuffed chili peppers
  • Wild greens in mole sauce
  • Atole (beverage made from corn)
  • Chili con queso with chips
  • Guacamole with flakes of red bell pepper "confetti"
  • Ensalada de Navidad (Christmas fruit salad)
  • Sidra (sparkling cider)
  • Chocolate atole (cinnamon hot chocolate)
  • Ponche con piquete (hot punch of fruits and cinnamon sticks)
  • Bizcochos (holiday cookies)
  • Sweet Christmas fritters
  • Flan

What are some of the Swedish Holiday Traditions?

On December 13, one of the darkest days of the year, St. Lucia Day, or the Festival of Lights, is celebrated throughout Sweden to symbolize the promise of the sun's return. In the past, a young girl would dress in a white gown with a red sash and a wreath of lit candles on her head. She would go from house to house offering baked goods.

Today, the tradition continues with the oldest girl in a family wearing the traditional dress with a wreath of (battery-powered) candles on her head, awakening everyone with a song and saffron buns and coffee.

According to legend, Lucia was a young girl that lived during the fourth century. She was blinded for her Christian beliefs. St. Lucia is the patron saint of the blind.

For a Swedish Christmas dinner, sit down to a table of:

  • Ham
  • Lutefisk (fish soaked in lye)
  • Boiled wheat (cuccidata)
  • Cabbage pudding
  • Baby potatoes
  • Sweet carrots
  • Medley of vegetables
  • Deviled eggs
  • Julglögg (a hot, mulled wine)
  • Fruit salad
  • Saffron buns with raisins
  • Rice pudding
  • Lingonberry pie
  • Broomstick cookies (a lacy cookie with almonds and butter)
  • Pepparkakor (sweet ginger)

What is Christmas like in Germany?

Celebrating the season is a month-long event in Germany, with festivities culminating on Christmas Eve, when the Christmas tree is unveiled. Children are not allowed to see the tree until a bell rings to signify that the Christ Child has been there.

Once the tree is revealed, fully decorated with tinsel, lights, and ornaments, families place presents underneath and sing Christmas carols. The night later gives way to a feast so lavish that the evening is often called dickbauch, or "fat stomach."

It is believed that those who do not eat well will be haunted by demons during the night. Nuts, fruits, marzipan, greenery, candles, and adorable carved, wooden figurines of angels, trees, and Santa are placed around the table.

In Germany, the typical Christmas feast
features roasted goose instead of turkey.

The night's delights include:

  • Roasted goose
  • Ham or suckling pig
  • White sausage
  • Sausage and cheese bread
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Yams
  • Macaroni salad
  • Rice porridge
  • Biscuits and marmalade
  • Fruit salad
  • Apple cider
  • Christstollen (bread with nuts, raisins, and dried fruit)
  • Lebkuchen (gingerbread)
  • Marzipan

What is Boxing Day in England?

Although the exact origin of Boxing Day is unknown, it is believed to date back to England during the Middle Ages. The most widely accepted theory is that even though servants were required to work on Christmas Day, they were given a reprieve the day after to visit family, with their employers sending them off with a box containing gifts and food, hence the term "Boxing Day."

Today, people continue to celebrate by taking the day off to visit family and friends and to give presents to those who have helped them throughout the year. Traditional Christmas festivities in England include tables laden with pine boughs, holly, mistletoe, juniper berries, cinnamon sticks, oranges with fragrant cloves, bowls of fruit, and tiny Christmas trees scattered throughout.

For the Christmas feast in England, turkey and stuffing are staples.

Party favors are placed on plates. These include English "crackers," which are colored paper tubes filled with candy and small gifts.

The typical English Christmas feast consists of:

  • Pheasant or chicken
  • Turkey
  • Assorted sausages
  • Stuffing
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Yams
  • Filo crackers
  • Mince pies
  • Poached pears
  • Scones and muffins with berry butter
  • Christmas (plum) pudding
  • Fruitcake

How do you say "Merry Christmas" around the World?

  • Glædelig Jul -- Danish
  • Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan -- Chinese, Mandarin
  • Joyeux Noel -- French
  • Nadolig Llawen -- Welsh
  • Mitho Makosi Kesikansi -- Cree
  • Buon Natale -- Italian
  • Kala Christouyenna! -- Greek
  • Nollaig Shona Dhuit -- Gaelic (Irish)
  • Shub Naya Baras -- Hindi
  • God Jul -- Swedish
  • Boldog Karacsonyt -- Hungarian
  • Feliz Navidad -- Spanish
  • Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom -- Russian
  • Sung Tan Chuk Ha -- Korean
  • Frohliche Weihnachten -- German
  • Gesëende Kersfees -- Afrikaans
  • Hyvaa Joulua -- Finnish
  • Kurisumasu omedeto -- Japanese
  • Mele Kalikimaka -- Hawaiian
  • Suksun Wan Christmas -- Thai
  • Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia -- Polish

So, you've learned quite a bit about Christmas traditions around the world and how to say Merry Christmas in more than a dozen languages. Are you ready to test your Santa Claus knowledge? Continue to the next section to test your Santa trivia.

It wasn't until 1809 that Americans had
an actual description and drawing
of St. Nicholas.

For centuries, St. Nicholas has been remembered by Christians for his generosity toward children and the poor. The real St. Nicholas lived in Turkey, where he served as bishop in the town of Myra, during the fourth century. According to Dutch legend, Sinter Klaas (St. Nicholas) brought gifts at Christmastime, either through an open window or down a chimney. This legend is the basis of the Santa Claus we know and love today.

Prior to the 16th century, gifts were exchanged during the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6. After that time, German Protestants began celebrating Christkindl on December 25, a feast day for the Christ Child. Soon the two days merged into one, although, today many people in Europe continue to celebrate both days. As early as 1773, the name "St. A Claus" appeared in print.

But Americans did not have a detailed description of St. Nicholas until Washington Irving included a drawing of him in the 1809 publication A History of New York. Then, in 1823, Clement Clarke Moore wrote 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (or A Visit from St. Nicholas). It was Moore's account that characterized Santa as a jolly old man who rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and slides down chimneys to deliver gifts.

Who's Tracking Santa Claus?

"Deter. Detect. Defend." This motto of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, applies to the Canadian and American agency's responsibility to defend the airspace of Canada, Alaska, and the continental United States. However, each December 24, NORAD is also involved in tracking Santa Claus's sleigh ride across the globe.

Using data obtained from a worldwide network of radar and satellites in space, NORAD staff and more than 360 volunteers begin reporting on Santa's progress at 5:00 a.m. MST. Real-time updates via e-mail, the Internet, and telecasts are transferred into streaming audio and video updates and then translated into French, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and English.

Santa loves to travel to the places
with the most snow!

Which Cities are Easiest for Santa to Visit?

Those with snow, of course! According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the average snowfall each December in the following locations is more than two feet:

  • Valdez, Alaska
  • Yakutat, Alaska
  • Blue Canyon, California
  • Marquette, Michigan
  • Muskegon, Michigan
  • Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan
  • Mount Washington, New Hampshire
  • Syracuse, New York

Does Santa Really Exist?

Yes, Santa Claus really does exist -- and he lives in Rovaniemi, Finland! At Santa's Village, you can visit Santa in his workshop and watch his trusty elves building toys and decorating for the holidays. You can also stop by one of the gift shops and pick up Santa's favorite Finnish candies or a toy from Santa's workshop.

In keeping with Santa's North Pole address, Santa's Village is located in the Finnish Lapland on the Arctic Circle. The Lapland is a region that includes northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway. It is north of the Arctic Circle, an imaginary line on the surface of the earth where the sun does not rise on the winter solstice or set on the summer solstice.

What are Santa's Favorite Reads?

  • Olive, the Other Reindeer, J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
  • Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey, Robert Byrd
  • The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg

What are Santa's Aliases?

Christmas gifts are bestowed by different gift givers in various countries. These include Père Noël in France, St. Nicholas or Sinter Klaas in Holland, Father Christmas in England, the Three Kings in parts of Latin America and Spain, and Santa Claus in the United States. In Germany, children are visited by Christkind, an angelic messenger of Jesus.

Babouschka, a grandmotherly figure, brings presents in Russia, while in Sweden, Jultomten, a gnome who rides a sleigh, does the honors. Syrian children receive gifts from a camel of one of the Three Wise Men, reportedly the smallest one in the caravan. And in Italy, a kindly old witch named La Befana leaves gifts for children.

Can you Name any Reindeer Facts?

  • Reindeer are one of several subspecies of caribou found around the world.
  • Reindeer are herbivores, which means they eat vegetation. In the summer, they eat leaves and herbs. In the winter, they eat lichen and moss.
  • Reindeer generally don't run very fast. In fact, a white-tailed deer could outrun a reindeer.
  • Reindeer use their antlers like a shovel to break through the crust of snow to reach the vegetation underneath.

Reindeer are healthy herbivores. They feast only on leaves, herbs,
lichen, and moss.

After testing your Santa trivia knowledge, you should know all there is to know about Santa Claus and his reindeer. Find out how much you know (or think you know) about Christmas trees. Continue to the next page to test your Christmas tree trivia knowledge in the areas of world records, types of Christmas trees, and more.

Christmas just wouldn&rsquot be the same without a Christmas tree twinkling in the night on Christmas Eve. Where did this Christmas tree tradition come from? What is our great nation&rsquos national Christmas tree? Find out answers to these questions and more as you increase your Christmas tree trivia knowledge with the interesting facts below.

What is the Origin of the Christmas Tree?

The Christmas tree is thought to have originated in a play often performed in the Middle Ages during the Advent season. Based on the story of Adam and Eve, the play featured a Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden that was decorated with apples to symbolize Eve's temptation. The tree used in the play was an evergreen tree, which symbolized fertility and a renewal of life.

It is believed that the Christmas tree dates back to the Middle Ages.

Later, in 16th century Germany, people would hang apples, gilded candies, colored paper, and roses from tree branches. Martin Luther, inspired by the beauty of stars shining through the branches of a fir tree, is credited with being the first person to add lighted candles to a tree.

Some believe that King George, a native of Germany, brought the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree to England. Others credit Queen Victoria with bringing the tradition to England from Germany where her husband, Prince Albert, was raised.

An etching of the British royal family gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle in 1848 prompted the spread of this favorite decoration throughout Victorian England. The custom was brought to the United States when German immigrants in Pennsylvania continued to decorate Christmas trees just as they had done in their homeland.

How do you care for Holiday Botanicals?

So much of Christmas decorating involves natural greenery and holiday flowers. Even if you don't have a green thumb, it is easy to incorporate these elements into your decor. All it takes to keep live and cut botanicals fresh during the holidays is tender, loving care.It is a myth that poinsettias are poisonous, but they do have a bitter taste.

To care for poinsettias, keep the soil moist, not wet. After the holidays, transfer the plant into a larger pot, trim the branches back once the bracts or leaves fade, and feed it every three weeks with fertilizer. As the weather warms to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, place the plant outdoors and continue trimming its branches. In October, expose the plant to 14 hours of darkness daily to force the leaves to color.

Holiday greenery such as holly, ivy, and evergreen branches will remain beautiful longer by adding a commercial floral preservative to the water. Spritz arrangements with water daily and monitor their temperature. The cooler the room, the longer the greenery stays fresh. Leaves dipped in household floor wax can last up to six weeks. This also works for decorative fruit such as grapes and pears. It gives them a shine and can keep them from spoiling for at least three weeks.

Christmas trees need water daily. Adding a commercial preservative to the water will extend the life of the tree. For a live tree, place the burlap-wrapped root-ball in a tub, and water it daily. After Christmas, dig a hole twice as large as the root-ball, carefully remove the burlap, then place the tree into the hole.

Ranging in color from red to yellow, kalanchoes and other succulent plants are excellent holiday bloomers. Though the plants can withstand relatively dry conditions, keep the soil moist. After the holidays, treat kalanchoes like poinsettias, trimming the branches and feeding regularly. In the fall, allow the plant to dry out between waterings and expose it to at least 12 hours of darkness to encourage flowering.

To force bulbs like paperwhites, narcissus, amaryllis, and irises, plant them in October with the pointed end up in a shallow container on a layer of pebbles. Fill with sandy potting soil or with more pebbles. Water at planting time and regularly when growth begins. Place the bulbs in warm sunlight, and fertilize just before and during blooming. When flowers begin to die, reduce watering until the leaves have withered. Plant the bulbs, or place them in a cool, dark, dry place until next year.

What is the History of the Wreath?

Wreaths have a long history, dating back to ancient Druids who believed that holly, a perennial evergreen with lush, red berries, was a magical plant. Wreaths were first created when holly and other evergreens were arranged in a circular shape, a shape with no beginning or end, and therefore, synonymous with eternity.

The circular shape of a wreath is synonymous with eternity.

This representation took on more meaning when Jesus Christ was crowned with a wreath of thorns. In the days of Julius Caesar, wreaths were worn by aristocrats and used by Greeks to crown victorious athletes in the original Olympic games. It is believed that hanging a wreath on a door became a custom when Olympic athletes began to hang their wreaths on their doors following a victory.

Although the word wreath evokes thoughts of Christmas, these lovely decorations can beautify doors and walls year-round. They can be embellished with a vast assortment of dried or artificial flowers to fit any holiday or season.

What are some of the most popular Holiday World Records?

Some people love the holidays so much that they set out to break world records with their holiday cheer. For example:

The largest Christmas stocking measures 35 feet 41/2 inches long and 16 feet 5 inches wide. Created by J. Terry Osborne and friends from King William County, Virginia, it was filled with gifts to be distributed to needy children.

Jean-Guy Laquerre of Boucherville, Quebec, Canada, is an avid Father Christmas collector, with more than 13,000 items collected since 1988. The collecting bug bit when his aunt died and left him a 12-inch-high antique papier-mâché Santa Claus from the 1920s. Since then, he has added objects such as music boxes, yo-yos, photos, candleholders, and pens.

What is the Origin of the Poinsettia?

Poinsettias account for 88 percent of all plant purchases at Christmastime. The most popular color is red, but they are also available in white, cream, pink, and yellow, and they can be striped, spotted, or marbled.

Originating in Mexico, where they are known as the "Flower of the Holy Night," the flowers were brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett in 1829. In their native country, they grow as shrubs and can reach heights up to ten feet tall.

The poinsettia originated in Mexico, where it is known as the
"Flower of the Holy Night."

In Mexico, a heart-warming story explains the origin of the poinsettia:

On a Christmas Eve, long ago, a poor little boy went to church in great sadness because he had no gift to bring the Holy Child. He dared not enter the church, and, kneeling humbly on the ground outside the house of God, he prayed fervently and assured our Lord, with tears, how much he desired to offer him some lovely present --"But I am very poor and dread to approach you with empty hands." When he finally rose from his knees, he saw springing up at his feet a green plant with gorgeous blooms of dazzling red.

What is Holly?

For centuries, holly has been synonymous with the holiday season. In ancient Rome, holly branches were given as a gesture of friendship during Saturnalia, the winter solstice festival. Druids would decorate their homes with holly during Britain's gloomy winters, believing that the sun always shone on this sacred tree. Likewise, pagans would bring holly and other evergreens inside to ensure that Nature would return in the spring.

There are hundreds of species of holly that can be clipped and used in seasonal decorations. Perhaps the most well known is American holly, which features spiny, glossy leaves and bright red berries. Inkberry holly, named for its deep purple-black berries, and variegated holly, with striped leaves, are striking alternatives to the standard holiday holly.

What is the Origin of the Traditional Mistletoe Kiss?

Who doesn't love hanging mistletoe? Although most mistletoe is parasitic, and, therefore, harmful to the trees on which it grows, the Celts thought it had magical powers for healing wounds and increasing fertility, so they placed it throughout their homes for good luck and to ward off evil spirits.

The mistletoe "kiss" tradition dates back to the eighth century.

In ancient Britain, mistletoe was considered so sacred that it could only be cut with a golden sickle. Today, Americans decorate doorframes with this plant in hopes of catching a smooch from a sweetheart while standing under its leaves. This tradition is credited to Frigga, the Scandinavian goddess of love and beauty, and is said to date back to the eighth century.

What is America&rsquos National Christmas Tree?

America's official national Christmas tree is not located at the White House, but rather in King's Canyon National Park near Sanger, California. The tree, a giant sequoia known as the General Grant Tree, was designated the "Nation's Christmas Tree" in 1925.

It is 267 feet high, 40 feet across its base, and is estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old. In 1956, the tree was declared a national shrine to honor the men and women of the U.S. military. As a memorial, park rangers place a wreath at the base of the tree during the Christmas ceremony, which has been held every year since 1925.

As you can see, there were many engaging facts to discover about everything from Christmas trees to wreaths. In the next section, take your Christmas trivia skills to the next level as you uncover facts about Christmas songs.

Santa Doles Out $20 Bills to Spokane Fast-Food Workers on Christmas

Santa paid an extra special visit to several fast-food workers on Christmas, giving them quite a nice surprise.

Employees at Jack in the Box, Carl's Jr., Burger King, Arby's, and KFC in Spokane, WA were treated to $20 bills when Santa and his "elves" dropped by their restaurants. A volunteer group, Big Table, which supports those in the restaurant industry, organized what they called "Holiday Care Blitz," bringing cash to fast-food employees who had to work on Christmas and Christmas Eve.

The group explained its mission on their website: "Hundreds of people will be working for minimum wage this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in fast food restaurants throughout Spokane. For most this isn't a choice &mdash their name just showed up on the holiday schedule. We're asking that you take a few minutes away from your celebrations to show up at fast food counters or in drive‐through lanes. You will hand out $20 bills &mdash enough for the whole crew &mdash inside HOLIDAY CARE BLITZ envelopes."

According to KTVB, the plan worked. On Christmas, each employee at the Jack in the Box on Market Street in Spokane received a $20 bill. The volunteers (and Santa of course) were met with gratitude. "It's really nice to see things like that. We work really hard and at times it's not shown how hard it is," said Jack in the Box employee Crystal Williams to KTVB. Employee Destiny Wallace added, "It's kind of tough, but when this kind of stuff happens. It makes it worth it."

Big Table raised $3,000 for the fast-food workers, which came from donors and a local church. The volunteers are hoping this year's Holiday Care Blitz will become an annual tradition.

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Watch the video: 2010s Christmas Commercials. 2010-2019 Holiday Commercial Compilation (June 2022).