The Cattle Are Lowing
We were singing Christmas carols tonight and I wondered, "what exactly does it mean that the cattle are lowing?" The answer was a bit of a let-down. They are mooing. Just mooing, like cows do. I guess the line "The cattle are mooing, the poor baby wakes," didn't make the final cut.
And What's with Figgy Pudding?
It sounds pretty darn good to me. Sort of a carrot cake (with figs instead of carrots) mixed with custard, it contains figs, apples, dates, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. And suet. Can't forget that. It is steamed in a pudding mold for four hours (which is probably why more people don't make it (that, and the suet)).
The Patron Saint of Christmas
I went to Catholic school for a few years, and I have a fascination with saints. According to American Catholic, there really isn't a saint for this day; instead, we should remember the shepherds to which the angel of the Lord appeared. Then there's Saint Nicholas, who's day is really December 6th, and who earned his reputation in part by throwing bags of gold into the houses of young women who were too poor for a dowry. On one occassion, to keep from being found out, he threw the money down the chimney. So there you go.
The average household mails out 27 Christmas cards annually. I used to send out over 60. Now, I don't send any. Stamps go up every other day! More than three billion Christmas cards are sent out annually. This courtesy of How Stuff Works.
So red and green are the colors associated with Christmas, but why? There are two explainations. One is that during Christmas in the days of yore, Miracle Plays were all the rage. And to have a proper one, you needed a Paradise Tree, which was a symbol of the Tree of Knowledge. It was constructed with a pine tree festooned with apples (and Eucharist wafers eventually).
The second story is that the green symbolizes the hope brought to mankind with the birth of Christ, often pictured as a pine tree. The red is the blood of Christ as a result of his sacrifice for mankind.
Gift Ideas, but not Really
A search for Christmas gift ideas on Yahoo will yield you 223,000,000 results. That's a lot of Christmas gifts.
Bangs of Expectation
The original Christmas crackers were manufactured in Tom Smith's factory in Norwich, England and were called "Bangs of Expectation." They were also known as Cosaques because the sound they made was reminiscent of the crack made by the Cossack's whips during the Franco-Prussian War. Saltpeter produces the bang, and if too much is used, your Christmas cracker can burst into flames!