It’s day 2 of Millbank’s 12 Days of Christmas – 11 festive facts you might not know!
Last year in the lead up to Christmas we shared an unusual Christmas fact every day until Christmas Eve. Some were pretty surprising – so let’s take a close look at a few of the more off-the-wall Christmas facts…
1. The traditional Christmas meal in Japan is KFC
Yes, it’s true – and demand for KFC is so high on 25th December in Japan that meals must be ordered weeks in advance to avoid queuing for hours to be served. This is thanks to a marketing campaign dating back to 1974 called “Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii”, or “Kentucky for Christmas”, which filled the gap where there was previously no real Christmas tradition in the country.
2. “Jingle Bells” was the first song to be performed in space
… Or at least, the first song to be broadcast from space. It was part of a prank by astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra aboard Gemini 6 in 1965. Listen for yourself below:
3. Some zoos request donations of used Christmas trees to feed to their animals, as the pines are a rich source of vitamin C
Big cats also enjoy using the bark to sharpen their claws. Before you pack your old tree up and head to the zoo, it’s best to ring ahead, as some zoos will only accept “clean” trees (not sprayed with fake snow or chemicals) if at all.
4. The Queen’s Christmas speech was first televised in 1957.
The first televised Royal Christmas Message didn’t go without technical problems. Thanks to sunspots interfering with broadcasts, American police radio transmissions were crossing over with British TV signals. As a result, her Majesty was briefly interrupted by an officer saying “Joe, I’m gonna grab a quick coffee”.
5. Rudolph was added to Father Christmas’s line-up in 1939 following a successful marketing campaign by an American department store.
In a bid to boost Christmas sales, the boss of Montgomery Ward department store called on copywriter Robert L May to write a children’s book to be sold in store. The book, “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” became a hit, shifting 2 million copes nationwide. As a result, Rudolph went down in history...!
6. Christmas Eve is the most popular day to propose, and Christmas Day is the least popular day to break up with a partner.
According to Facebook data on changing relationship statuses, Christmas Eve has even Valentine’s Day beat in the engagement stakes. In fact, 30% of people get engaged in November or December, with New Year’s Eve being another popular date to pop the question.
7. The Statue of Liberty was a Christmas present from France to the USA in 1886.
Designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, the Statue of Liberty itself stands 46 metres tall.
8. In Caracas, Venezuela, it’s become tradition to roller-skate to church on Christmas Eve.
Although apparently the church itself isn’t a fan of the tradition, it was started as a response to many of the main roads being closed off to cars.
9. The best-selling song of all time is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”.
Written by Irving Berlin in 1940, Bing Crosby’s rendition in the movie Holiday Inn won an Oscar for Best Original Song, and its various recordings across singles and albums have sold a record of over 100 million copies worldwide.
10. The wrapping paper used in the UK at Christmas every year could cover the island of Guernsey.
Around 30 square miles of wrapping paper is thrown away in the UK each year. Wrapping paper is hard to recycle due to the materials used, which are often laminated or include additives like glitter.
11. In a 19th century Welsh tradition, the last person awake on the day after Christmas was beaten with prickly holly sprigs.
Another similar tradition saw young men roaming the streets with holly, hunting down young women to hit on the arms and legs with the sharp sprigs. Thankfully this tradition died out before the end of the 19th century.