Christmas trees. Santa Claus. Presents. Parties. Cars with red noses and antlers. There are so many things to smile about at Christmas time. And then there’s Christmas crackers. Those ridiculous exploding table decorations that house possibly the worst collection of lame jokes in history.
This year, I’ve decided to stop torturing my Christmas dinner guests with nauseatingly unfunny Christmas crackers – for once, my excruciatingly stodgy Christmas pudding should prove torture enough. No, this year my daughter and I are throwing caution and common sense to the wind by making our own Christmas crackers. And in the time-honoured advertising tradition, we’ve decided if you can’t be funny, be interesting. So instead of jokes, we’re putting fascinating snippets of Christmas trivia inside our crackers instead.
Here’s just some of the intriguing little tidbits we’ve unearthed, starting – naturally – with some Christmas advertising trivia…
Did you know that the ad industry was instrumental in shaping our modern image of Santa Claus? He was a skinny, rather taciturn-looking character before illustrator Haddon Sundblom created the plump, cheery Santa with the rosy cheeks, white beard and red coat for a series of Coca-Cola magazine ads in 1931.
Or that the world’s first singing commercial aired on the radio on Christmas Eve 1926? The jingle, for Wheaties cereal, was sung by four male singers, who became known as the Wheaties Quartet.
Or that all Christmas advertising was banned in Australia in 1942 to aid the war effort? It was part of a Federal Government initiative to curb extra spending at Christmas and to prevent wasting manpower on the manufacture and selling of Christmas gifts.
Now, for the stats fans…
Scientists have calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second and travel at 650 miles a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve.
In the USA, six million rolls – or 369,000km – of sticky tape are sold in the run-up to Christmas Day.
According to a 1995 survey, 7 out of 10 dogs get Christmas gifts from their owners.
And finally, a couple for the history buffs…
The British Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551 have not yet been repealed, and it states that every British citizen must attend a Christian church service on Christmas Day, and must not use any kind of vehicle to get there.
The Christmas carol, ‘Silent Night’ was written in 1818 by an Austrian priest called Joseph Mohr, after he was told that the church organ was broken and would not be repaired in time for Christmas Eve. Unable to imagine Christmas without music, he spent the day writing a carol that could be sung to guitar music, and that night his congregation sang “Stille Nacht” for the first time.
Hope these have given you a few conversation-starters in case you get stuck next to Aunty Joan at Christmas dinner. And if you have any more interesting snippets of Christmas trivia, please send them my way.
Deb Enright is a Writer at BCM