It’s Christmas. It’s the time of year when we eat too much, drink too much, buy too much and watch too much telly.
But we don’t care, because that’s what Christmas is for, right? To kick back, indulge and slob out for a week and a half. After the year we’ve had, dominated by Donald Trump’s spectacular ability to jump from one faux pas to the next, the utter horror show that is the Brexit debacle and the (not so) surprise sacking of the not-so-special-one Jose Mourinho, we collectively deserve a break from the craziness.
But grub, booze and crap telly aside, Christmas is a time for family and friends. As the world’s Christians celebrate religiously and others celebrate culturally, it’s a time of year to reflect, to look forward with excitement at what 2019 may bring and to rejoice.
Especially if you’re the boss of Amazon and you’re looking at your bottom line.
However, Christmas isn’t all it seems and it’s time we debunked the myths that have stood the test of time only because it’s too upsetting to tell children anything other than the socially accepted version of events.
Christmas Myths Debunked
Look, they’re going to find this stuff out eventually. They’re more savvy with an iPad than you’ll ever be and they know their way around YouTube with the same unerring accuracy a black cabbie knows his way from Manor House station to Gibson Square.
And as always, the truth is way more interesting!
Coca-Cola Didn’t Invent Santa Claus As We Know Him
While they may have played their part in propagating the image into popular culture as part of their ad campaigns from the 1930s, the credit for the creation of the jolly, ruddy-cheeked, fat, bearded grandfather type was the creation of cartoonist Thomas Nast in the 1870s.
It even says it on Coca-Cola’s website: ‘Before Coca-Cola was invented, Santa Claus (St Nick) had appeared in numerous illustrations and books wearing a scarlet coat. He was portrayed a variety of ways. He could be tall and gaunt or short and elfin, sometimes distinguished and intellectual, other times rather frightening.’
There Weren’t Three Wise Men
The Bible doesn’t say anything of the sort and primary school nativity plays have been getting it wrong ever since. Matthew 2:1 says ‘when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.’ However many came to see the infant son of God, they only brought three gifts so it’s assumed three men came but it could have just as easily been two generous men or 250 tight-arses.
Some writings penned well over a century after Jesus was born simply say that an unnumbered party came to see him in a house (not a stable) at an unspecified time after the birth.
While We’re At It, 25th December Wasn’t His Birthday
It was the Western Christian Church in 336 AD who proclaimed the date but there is widespread agreement amongst scholars of antiquity that he wasn’t born on Christmas Day. That would be an unbelievable coincidence…
The Pagans celebrated the Roman god of agriculture – Saturnalia – in late December and with celebrations already taking place, chucking Christmas into the mix was a good idea and it helped to convince the remaining pagans in Rome that Christianity may well be worth considering. Also, the presence of shepherds in Bethlehem possibly points to a spring birth. Either way, he wasn’t born in December.
Kissing Under The Mistletoe
This is a funny one. On one hand it could be entirely believable that it’s a tradition invented by a pervy middle manager at a bank to steal kisses from the secretary pool but it seems it’s a bastardisation of a few stories, with a load of made-up crap in the middle.
One version of the story goes that Norse god Baldr was killed by an arrow made of mistletoe and the unfortunately-named goddess Frigg (his mother) said that from then on, the plant should only ever be used to encourage affection. Sadly, this is tosh. The tale of why we hang a rather ugly parasitic plant with poisonous berries above doors to nick a snog may well have its roots in the fact that Norse, Greek and Roman accounts portray the plant as one of peace and friendship and Dodgy Barry from IT has taken it and ran with it.
Prince Albert Invented The Christmas Tree
He’s given us enough ‘decoration’ hasn’t he? This rumour was propagated in 1848 when he and his wife were pictured next to one in the Illustrated London News and stuck for years until news had the ability to circulate further than a few streets. Queen Charlotte, the wife of the insane George III had one in 1800 and the Germans decorated trees at Christmas time as far back as 1605.
Now That’s What I Call Awful Christmas Music…
We’ve been hearing Christmas songs in shops since late August and it always seems to be the same 10 songs on an endless, depressing loop. If you’ve seen About A Boy, the Hugh Grant rom-com from 2002, it is possible to fluke a massive hit and sit comfortably in front of Netflix for the rest of your life while the royalties come flooding in, but what’s the reality like?
Actually, not that different.
Just for fun, here’s what the biggest Christmas songs earn for their writers, year after year…
(Note: these number are from 2015 so they’re probably a bit higher by now but you get the picture…)
- Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade (1973): £500,000
- Fairytale of New York – The Pogues & Kirsty McColl (1988): £400,000
- All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey (1994): £376,000
- White Christmas – Bing Crosby (1942): £328,000
- Last Christmas – Wham (1986): £300,000
- Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney (1979): £260,000
- Stop The Cavalry – Jona Lewie (1982): £120,000
- 2000 Miles – The Pretenders (1983): £102,000
- Mistletoe & Wine – Cliff Richard (2003): £100,000
- Stay Another Day – East 17 (1994): £97,000
Also, Die Hard IS a Christmas film.
From all of us at Liquid, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!
The Liquid Team