<Answers & Explanations

Games People Actually Play

Christmas Lore & Legend

The Afterlife Confirmed

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Christmas Facts Examined

1. Bert and Ernie are the policeman and the taxi driver who are friends of George Bailey.

2. In 1931, artist Haddon Sundblom began an extensive series of paintings for advertisements depicting Santa Claus with a bottle of Coca Cola. He clothed the old saint exclusively in the company colors of red and white. Up until then, Santa had been portrayed in a variety of colors. These ads, promoted world-wide, changed Santa's image forever.

3. The first publication of the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" used the Dutch "Dunder and Blixem" (meaning thunder and lightning) as the names for two of the tiny reindeer. Some 21 years later, when Clement Moore placed the poem in a book among some of his works, he changed the pair's names to "Donder and Blitzen." "Blitzen" is the German word for lightning, but "Donder" is meaningless. The name "Donner," the actual German for thunder wasn't used until 1949, when the song, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, was written.

4.The song was based on a children's booklet, titled Rudolph, the Ninth Reindeer, written in 1939 as a promotion for Montgomery Ward's department store. The booklet's author, Robert L. May, first tried to name the hero of his story "Rollo" and then "Reginald" but both names were rejected by the client. Then May's daughter suggested "Rudolph" and everyone was happy.

5. Actually, artificial trees made of feathers and other natural materials were introduced in Europe not long after Christmas trees became popular. Nevertheless, the first commercial artificial trees that could hold heavy ornaments were manufactured by the Addis Brush Company using machines that were designed to make toilet-bowl brushes.

6.The fact that "Five gold rings" refers to gold-ringed pheasants has escaped the attention of many music publishers who seem not to have questioned the insertion of jewelry in a sequence of bird gifts.

7. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer. Each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter. Female reindeer, however, retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, any reindeer having antlers at Christmastime – as Santa's crew are generally depicted – must be female.

8. "Colly" is an English term for a blackbird. Many music publishers mistakenly have substituted "calling." There is no such thing as a "calling bird."

9. "Plum" meant "plump" or "swell" – which is what the raisins did when the pudding was cooked.