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Last Updated: Monday December 25 2006 11:29 GMT

Newsround's 12 facts of Christmas

Christmas pudding

Happy Christmas! There are lots of traditions associated with the festive season, but have you ever thought about where they come from?

Every day in the run up to Christmas Day we'll be giving you a nugget of snow-how.

  • Holly - The Romans started using holly in winter - they gave it to each other as a seasonal gift.

  • Mistletoe - We kiss under the mistletoe because in Scandinavian legends it was the symbol of love.

  • Christmas cards - The first Christmas card was sent in 1840, in Britain.

  • Father Christmas - He was apparently born in Turkey in the fourth century, but no-one is sure when he moved to the North Pole.

  • Christmas stockings - When Santa lived in Turkey, he secretly gave money to three daughters by dropping it down the chimney. It landed in their stockings which were drying by the fire.

  • Boxing day - The day after Christmas Day was traditionally when churches opened their collection boxes to distribute the cash to the poor.

    In the 1800s, when Queen Victoria was on the throne, Boxing Day was also the day that some rich people would hand over boxes of gifts to the poor.

  • Mince pies - You should eat mince pies in silence, and make a wish with each one.

  • Christmas pudding - This was originally a type of porridge called frumenty, but more and more ingredients got added through the years.

  • Christmas crackers - Invented in the mid 1800s, these bangers were originally called cosaques.

  • Having fun - Anyone caught having fun at Christmas between 1647 and 1660 was in trouble. Celebrating the holiday had been banned by the rather strict Puritans who were in power at the time.

  • Christmas trees - British people started putting trees in their houses when Queen Victoria's husband Albert brought the idea over from Germany in 1841.

  • Presents - We give gifts because the three wise men brought baby Jesus three presents - gold, frankincense and myrrh.


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