Things you may not know about Christmas

The Christmas season is full of traditions, folklore and rich history.

However, amid a ll of t he traditions we've come to know, there are many bits of trivia of which you may not be familiar. Here are a few little-known facts about Christmas.

• The f irst manufact ured Christmas tree ornaments were sold in 1880 by the former Woolworth department store.

• Christmas trees originally featured actual lighted candles, which were naturally a fire hazard. So containers filled with water had to be kept near the tree.

• Construction workers first erected an undecorated tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City in the early 1930s. They have been credited with starting the annual tradition.

• Although sometimes construed as sacriligious, the shortened form "Xmas" is actually derived from Christ's name and has been popular in Europe since the 1500s. It is believed to be derived from the Greek word "Xristos," which means Christ.

• The National Confectioners Association reports that for 200 years candy canes were solid white. In the 1950s an automated machine was invented that could put on the red stripes.

• The idea of Christmas greeting cards started in Britain in the 1830s.

• Christmas celebrations were banned in Boston between 1659 and 1681. Those caught celebrating would be fined.

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2009-12-03 digital edition

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