Holiday Fun Facts

In this month's Turning Point, Chris Koepfer takes a break from serious business to deliver this interesting seasonal trivia.

     The holiday season is upon us. With the news of late being so grim, I decided to use my space this month to try and take our collective minds to a happier place. To that end, it’s my hope that the following holiday factoids give you a break from the serious, in favor of the frivolous, even if only for a moment.

    While I am no Charles Dickens, I can relate to a writer’s efforts at trial and error. Apparently, before he settled on the name of Tiny Tim for his “Christmas Carol” character, Dickens considered three other alliterative names. They were Little Larry, Puny Pete and Small Sam. He chose wisely.

    In the Ukraine, it is customary to use an artificial spider and web as part of the Christmas tree decorations. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck. I’m glad snakes are not considered good luck in the Ukraine.

    “The Nutcracker” is what we call the classic holiday ballet. However, the title of the music that Tchaikovsky wrote to accompany the dance is called “The Nutcracker Suite.”

    During a typical U.S. holiday buying season, Visa credit cards are used an average of 5,340 times every minute. My guess is that number will be down this year.

    Holy fire hazard, Batman! Before electric Christmas tree lights were first used in 1895, fir trees were decorated with burning candles. Thanks go to American Ralph E. Morris for making Christmas morning a much safer proposition.

    Speaking of trees, for every real Christmas tree harvested, two to three seedlings are planted in its place. Now I call that “for-evergreen.”

    I love this one. Frustrated by lack of interest in his new toy invention, Charles Pajeau hired several little people, dressed them in elf costumes and had them play with “tinker toys” in the window of a Chicago department store during the 1914 holiday sales season. The stunt made Pajeau’s new toy an instant hit. A year later, more than a million sets of tinker toys had been sold.

    In an effort to raise cash to pay for a charity Christmas dinner in 1891, a large crab pot was set down on a San Francisco street. It is credited with being the first Salvation Army collection kettle. I wonder if they served crabs at the dinner.

    Sending in the Marines, it was in 1947 that the first “Toys for Tots” drive was organized to provide toys for needy children.

    A cartoon by Thomas Nast entitled “Santa Claus in Camp,” appeared in Harper’s Weekly on January 3, 1863. It was the first time that Santa was depicted with a sleigh and reindeer. It showed the “old elf” delivering gifts to soldiers fighting in the Civil War. In an early example of bipartisanism, Nast also penned the Democratic Donkey and Republican Elephant.

    Think before raiding the fridge. It is estimated that 400,000 people become sick each year from eating holiday leftovers gone bad.

    Mistletoe, a traditional holiday symbol, was revered by the early Britons. It was considered so special that it could only be cut with a golden sickle.

    Here’s a Dickens gottcha: How many ghosts are there in “A Christmas Carol”? Most of us automatically jump on three—past, present and future. It’s easy to forget the fourth, which was Jacob Marley.

    Yuletide-named towns in the United States include Santa Claus, located in Arizona and Indiana, Noel in Missouri and Christmas in both Arizona and Florida.

    The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9, 1842.

    That’s it for this issue. I hope you enjoyed my little foray. The staff of Production Machining thanks you for your ongoing support and wishes you the best of the holiday season.