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I’ve been blogging about the history of Christmas since, well, long before it was acceptable to even talk about Christmas. It might have even been August.

See the other rest of this blog for longer posts. But for those (like me really) with goldfish-sized attention spans, here’s a countdown of my 12 favourite brief-as-poss things I learned about festive history:


12. Traditional Japanese Christmas dinner is KFC.

11. Corporal Hitler refused to join in the Christmas Truce, and stayed in his trench.

10. Turkeys used to be marched from Norfolk to London, each wearing leather boots to protect their feet.

9. Before he sold Coca-Cola, a red-wearing Santa advertised ginger wine.


Ho ho hic.

8. In the Vietnam War, ‘White Christmas’ was the warning alarm for troops to get out of Saigon.

7. ‘Jingle Bells’ was written in a Sunday school, for Thanksgiving. It was the first song in space, sung by astronauts pranking NASA by pretending they’d spotted Santa’s sleigh.

6. As King George V sat to broadcast the first British royal Christmas message, he fell through the seat of his chair.

5. The cover of the first Christmas Radio Times featured a family turning their backs to the fireplace, but turning to the radio.


…and now, the Only Fools & Horses Christmas special. Again.

4. The first personalised Christmas card was sent by celebrity sharp-shooter Annie Oakley.

3. The writer who popularised St Nicholas among New Yorkers, and spread the idea of the cosy English Christmas, also created Rip Van Winkle, Sleepy Hollow, the Knickerbocker Glory and Gotham City.

2. Due to a theological disagreement, St Nicholas punched a priest in the face at the Council of Nicaea.

1. King Herod had a wife called Doris.

For longer festive historical nuggets, see the rest of this blog, or better still, buy the book.