11 Holiday Fun Facts to Drop into Party Small Talk
1. Given the different time zones, Santa has 31 hours to deliver gifts, but his reindeer really have to fly, since that means visiting 823 homes per second.
2. Dreaming of a green Christmas? Household waste increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. In the United States, trash from wrapping paper and shopping bags totals 4 million tons.
3. The tradition of Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas dates back to when Jewish and Chinese immigrants comprised the largest groups of non-Christians on New York’s Lower East Side at the turn of the century, the Atlantic reports. The two groups were united by geography, having lived side by side, and also by what the magazine calls their “otherness.”
4. The U.S. Postal Service delivers 20 billion cards and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
5. Rudolph first alighted on the holiday scene in 1939, when in-store Santas at Montgomery Ward stores distributed 2.4 million copies of the booklet “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” written by Robert L. May, a copywriter for the company. After executives vetoed the original name, Rollo, May’s young daughter suggested Rudolph.
6. The Löschner family of Neuhausen, Germany, owns the biggest nutcracker collection: 4,334. It is said that German craftsmen made the first decorative nutcrackers around 1800 as a way of mocking authority figures, leading to the phrase “a hard nut to crack.”
7. Despite their bad reputation, poinsettias aren’t deadly. Latex in the stems and leaves can be irritating, but not much more, to humans and animals.
8. The first candy cane dates back to 1670 in Germany. According to holiday lore, a choirmaster distributed sugar sticks bent into the shape of a shepherds’ crook to quiet his young singers during Christmas services. Today more than 1.76 billion candy canes are made for the holidays, enough to stretch from Santa Claus, Indiana, to North Pole, Alaska, and back again 32 times.
9. Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” between October and November of 1843. The story was a hit, selling 6,000 copies by Christmas Day.
10. The largest gingerbread man in the world is a dieter’s nightmare, weighing in at a whopping 466 pounds, six ounces. The Gingerbread House, in Rochester, Minnesota, baked the giant cookie on February 21, 2006.
11. An average of 5,800 people end up in the ER after suffering injuries from holiday decorating.