The Holiday Season is full of wonderful stories and legends, many of which may warm your heart during the coldest part of the year. Jumbled right there in the middle somewhere is a tonne of urban legends and myths that many people still pass along as facts. Below is a quick list of myths about Christmas (and the holiday season in general) that you might not know aren't any more real than You-Know-Who.
5. The 12 Days of Christmas is a Secret Code-Word Song.
During the 16th to 19th centuries in England, it was prohibited by law to be a Catholic. It's from this point in history that we get the myth of the origin of "The Twelve Days." The legend has it that each of the presents in the song represents something from The Bible and Christian theology. The "two turtle doves" represent the Old and New Testament, the "partridge" is Jesus himself, and so on. The legend has it that the song was taught as code to Christians everywhere, as they were not permitted to have written Christian literature. But that itself is a myth in that the Anglicans, who banned Catholicism for those 270 years in England, practiced all of the tenants of Christianity found in the supposed codes.
Mostly, however, the myth makes no sense because none of the "Codes" really line up with what they are supposed to represent. Do five gold rings really make you remember the first five books of the Old Testament? Also, if practicing Christianity were illegal in parts of the world, wouldn't Christmas songs be illegal, as well? In truth, "Twelve Days.." is just a silly song about gifts during the Christmas Holiday, just like it sounds.
4. Santa Claus' Image Was Invented By Coca-Cola.
These days, the Coca-Cola Company's Santa Claus ads and commercials are every bit as a tradition as the jolly ol' fat man himself. So much so that many people now insist that Coke actually invented the image of Claus as we know it, including the red and white uniform worn by Mr. Kringle, coincidentally the same colors used by Coke itself. Originally a marketing gimmick to get people to buy more Coke in the wintertime, Coke's Santa came to popularity in the 1930s. By that time, the red-and-white Santa had already been depicted by numerous artists in magazine and ads dating back to the turn of the century. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew one of the first depictions of Claus as a rotund man in 1863. Before that, Claus was usually depicted as being tall and thin. For many years, Santa was drawn however the artist in question liked, often as an elf. Yes, the Coke Santa endures to this day, although that depiction likely owes as much thanks to Norman Rockwell as it does to America's favorite soft drink.
3. "Xmas" is an Attempt to Take "Christ" out of "Christmas".
Every year people send around angry letters, petitions, emails, articles, blogs, and candy-grams about how angry they are at where the Christmas season is going. People decry anger at those who are "taking 'Christ' out of 'Christmas'" and attempting to completely do away with the religious aspects of Christmas Day. People accuse others of "X-ing out" Christ from His own holiday. In actuality, using an "X" in the term "Xmas" is not a new thing being used by non-Christians as a means to disrespect the religious holiday. The term "Xmas" dates back as far as Christianity. The "X" comes from the Roman alphabet symbol for the Greek letter "Chi," which was of course used in the word "Christ." In fact, for centuries, people have written "Xian" when referring to Christians. "Xmas" is used neither out of disrespect nor to take any religious aspects of Christmas out of the word or holiday. The word is usually used simply as an abbreviation. With text messaging and thumb-typing becoming the norm, it's an abbreviation that's likely to stick around for a bit, just like Christmas itself.
2. Suicide Rates Jump During The Holidays.
While the holidays are so joyful for millions of people every single year, there are also millions of people who get depressed during this time of year. So it goes that so many people cannot stand all that cheer around them while they are lonely and therefore suicide rates spike every holiday season.
In fact, the suicide rates tend to be lower during the holiday season than they are during most other points of the year. Even lonely people find themselves surrounded by festivities and other distractions during the season that keep their depression on hold. More people reach out to lost relatives and friends and co-workers during this season than most. As it turns out, the suicide rates are higher after New Year's than they are before, but this is mostly due to post-holiday depression and the reality of returning to work and life in the "Real World." Post-Christmas Depression more real than the supposed surge in Christmas-related suicides every year.
1. Boxing Day is About Punching People in The Face.
Ah, Boxing Day. It's a special time in Canada and The U.K. when people get together and knock each other around, trying to smash their fists into the faces of their loved ones and co-workers. OK, so no one really thinks that Boxing Day has anything to do with being a pugilist. But there is much debate over what it originally was all about. While no one really knows how far Boxing Day goes back or what it's actual origins are, the day has become synonymous with being a day of giving to others. Consider it "Christmas II," if you will.
Some say it dates back to wealthy business owners giving "boxes" of gifts to their employees, masters giving their servants a day off after Christmas, or even churches opening their "boxes" and giving money to the poor. Likely, it's all of these things. These days, it's mostly a very commercial holiday, sometimes boasting sales just as impressive as the American "Black Friday" shopping extravaganza.
There are as many myths about the Christmas season as there are facts. These are simply five of them and now you can debunk anyone who tries to tell you otherwise. If you forget, just remember the number 5. "5 Golden Myths" is a great song you can sing and pass along to your children for years to come, just in case telling the truth about myths is ever outlawed.
Ward Anderson is a comedian, author, and one half of the talk radio program "Ward and Al", heard weekdays on SiriusXM satellite radio. His first novel, I'll Be Here All Week, will be released in May, 2014.
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