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Fun Facts about Christmas

Carols and cakes and gifts under the tree... as one nears the end of December, the foreign television channels get into the holiday mood, gearing up for the most widely-celebrated Christian festivals of the year.
The canvas of Christmas is a colourful one, dotted with many customs and rituals, which have become very familiar to us over the years. Some of these have fascinating histories.

Whose birthday is it anyway?
Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25. That's what Christmas is about, right? Which is why, it's funny to think that Christ was actually not born in December. Religious scholars estimate the actual date to be sometime in August. The celebrations in December date back to a pagan festival in Rome called Saturnalia, which celebrated the winter solstice.

Throughout the Middle Ages, there was an adaptation of pagan festivals into the Christian calendar. In the 4th century, the religious leaders declared December 25, which coincided with the pagan feast of the Sol Invictus ("unconquered sun", after the state-supported sun god), to be the birth-date of Christ. Customs from the feast of Saturnalia, which actually took place around December 23, such as the exchange of gifts and general merrymaking, were incorporated into the Christmas celebration, so that it eventually became a sort of composite Christian celebration. Whatever the origins, there's no denying that the whole atmosphere of togetherness and loving and giving, which settles down during Christmas, makes it such a special occasion. Here's wishing all our readers a very Merry Christmas.

In the cards
"You cannot reach perfection though you try however hard to there's always one more friend or so you should have sent a card to," wrote Richard Armour. Sir Henry Cole knew exactly what the man was talking about, and so in 1843, he commissioned the artist John Callcott Horsely to paint a card showing the feeding and clothing of the poor. A centre panel displayed a happy family embracing one another, sipping wine and enjoying the festivities. Two batches totalling 2050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each. Although the image, which showed a child drinking wine, raised a lot of eyebrows, the custom of sending cards on Christmas quickly caught on.

The early cards were very lavish, decorated with fringe, silk and satin. Some were shaped liked fans and crescents; others were cut into the shapes of bells, birds, candles and even plum puddings. Some folded like maps or fitted together as puzzles; other squealed or squeaked. Suddenly e-cards seem so mundane, don't they?

Coca cola Santa?
We all know jolly St Nick, who rides out once a year on his reindeer sleigh, flying over rooftops, dropping down chimneys to deliver presents to all the good children. It's hard to miss him in his red and white suit, so reminiscent of the colours of Coca Cola. Indeed, many people attribute this image of Father Christmas to the successful ad campaigns by the soft drinks giant way back in the 1930's. This theory has since been disproved by the fact that the image of the red suit and white beard had been around since the beginning of the 20th century. However, there's no denying that it was the image of the jolly fat man holding a Coke, as depicted by talented commercial artist Haddon Sunblom, that became, in the days before motion pictures and colour television, the primary exposure to the modern image of Santa.

By The Girl Next Door
Sources: geocities.com, wikipedia.com, emotionscards.com

Let's all go 'Meh’

The expression of indifference or boredom has gained a place in the Collins English Dictionary after generating a surprising amount of enthusiasm among lexicographers.

Publisher HarperCollins announced Monday the word had been chosen from terms suggested by the public for inclusion in the dictionary's 30th anniversary edition, to be published next year.

The origins of "meh" are murky, but the term grew in popularity after being used in a 2001 episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer suggests a day trip to his children Bart and Lisa.

"They both just reply 'meh' and keep watching TV," said Cormac McKeown, head of content at Collins Dictionaries.

The dictionary defines "meh" as an expression of indifference or boredom, or an adjective meaning mediocre or boring. Examples given by the dictionary include "the Canadian election was so meh."

The dictionary's compilers said the word originated in North America, spread through the Internet and was now entering British spoken English.

"This is a new interjection from the U.S. that seems to have inveigled its way into common speech over here," McKeown said. "Internet forums and e-mail are playing a big part in formalizing the spellings of vocal interjections like these. A couple of other examples would be 'hmm' and 'heh.' "

"Meh" was selected by Collins after it asked people to submit words they use in conversation that are not in the dictionary. Other suggestions included "jargonaut," a fan of jargon; "frenemy," an enemy disguised as a friend; and "huggles," a hybrid of hugs and snuggles.





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