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Christmas Trivia

It's always good to have a little Christmas trivia at your finger tips, whether you're just trying to sound impressive at a xmas party or entertaining the family on December 25th.

Jingle Bells was originally a song for Thanksgiving (not Christmas) in America in 1857. Called "One Horse Open Sleigh" it was eventually renamed to the catchier title and went on to become a xmas classic.

If you're interested in seeing some sport at Christmas in London, Boxing Day (26th December) always has Premiership and League football games - the biggest London clubs are Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs and West Ham United, but there are many others in the lower divisions where ticket prices will be less.

European Crusaders brought the mince pie back to England in the 12th Century. It was filled with meat, as well as fruits and spices. Although it has kept the same name, there is no longer any meat in a British mince pie. Well not normally.

Christmas is the busiest shopping period of the year - as everyone runs to the shops to buy gifts for each other. Although it's a tradition for Christmas shopping to start around November 1st, more and more stores start selling Christmas gifts earlier - with Harrods opening their xmas department in July!

The famous Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in London is a Norwegian spruce over 20 metres high and usually 50-60 years old. Known by the Norwegian foresters as 'the Queen of the Forest', the tree is selected from the very best in the Oslo region.

The first artificial christmas trees were made from goose feathers, and then painted green. Today artificial christmas trees are available in a myriad of colours including white, silver and gold - and can be made from pretty much anything from cardboard to real gold.

Electricity was first used to light christmas trees in 1895, but candles had been used since the middle of the 17th century. In the UK christmas tree lights are are often known as fairy lights and generally don't work when you first put them up.

Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first commercial christmas card in the mid 19th Century. The card was illustrated by John Callcott Horsley and showed a family drinking wine. He sold out of his first 2000 print run.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... If you received all of the gifts in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, you would receive 364 gifts. It would seem quite a challenge to deliver 12 swans a swimming.

Many London stores open late in the run up to Christmas, and some of the smaller boutique stores actually hand out free drinks and cakes to get everyone into the festive mood. The tradition of giving away glasses of mulled wine has almost disappeared in London due to a crackdown on serving alcohol from unlicensed premises!

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You May Not Know

Santa is a relatively new name for the fellow who brings presents - he was previously known as Old Father Christmas, Sir Christmas, and Lord Christmas. Originally he was pictured wearing a green costume but he was re-branded at the start of the 20th Century and is now generally seen in red.

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