The holiday season is a truly magical time of year filled with exciting surprises and cherished traditions. While some holiday knowledge, like how to save on gifts and decorate in a snap, is essential for a stress free holiday season, other holiday knowledge takes the form of fun facts. Here are five facts about the holidays that you probably didn’t know, which you can use to break the ice at your next coffee date or holiday party.
The symbols on the dreidel tell a story
A dreidel is used for a fun game that is traditionally played during the Hanukkah season. The dreidel is spun by one player at a time, and whichever letter is facing up when it stops spinning determines the outcome of that turn. If you’ve played dreidel before, you probably know what each letter means in terms of winning or losing money, pieces of candy, or whatever you are using to bet with, but you may not know that the letters also refer to a story.
“In Hebrew, the letters form the initials of the message, ‘A great miracle happened there’ (referring Hanukkah's everlasting oil),” according to Claire Suddath from Time.com.
New Year’s is a very old holiday
Holidays change over time as cultures merge with one another and evolve, but New Year’s celebrations go way back into human history.
“The earliest known New Year celebrations were in Mesopotamia and date back to 2000 B.C.,” according to CNN. “The early Romans used March 1 as New Year's Day. Other cultures used the autumn equinox or the winter solstice to mark the new year.”
There is a spectacular Hanukkah menorah tradition that began in Israel
If you’ve lit Hanukkah candles either at your own home or at the home of a friend, then you know how spectacular the small flames can be, but in Israel, they take lighting the menorah to a whole new level.
“Jews around the world light Hanukkah menorahs during Hanukkah, but in Israel the festival's flame takes an interesting path,” states Randy James from Time.com. “Embracing a custom long associated with the Olympics, runners race a burning torch from the Israeli city of Modiin to Jerusalem, a distance of about 20 miles (32 km), where the chief rabbi lights a giant menorah at the Western Wall.”
The Christmas Story movie is more accurate than you may think
Most holiday movies are so fun because they exaggerate the zany and fantastical things that make the holidays such a unique time of year. You probably realize that your snowman won’t come to life and you aren’t likely to bump into Buddy the Elf in New York City, but don’t dismiss all holiday movies as fiction so quickly. One of the most famous scenes of the classic holiday movie The Christmas Story is when one of characters gets his tongue stuck on a metal pole outside. So you may wonder, can that actually happen?
“Mythbusters tested whether it was possible to get your tongue truly stuck on a piece of cold metal. Guess what? It is. So don't triple dog dare your best friend to try it,” states Stacy Conradt from mentalfloss.com.
Christmas used to be banned in Boston
There is a seldom remembered 22 years in Boston’s history where celebrating Christmas wasn’t allowed, and even saying “Merry Christmas” could incur a fine.
“On May 11, 1659, Puritanical theocrats brought the hammer down on Christmas celebrations, enacting a political ban on the holiday and charging fines to Christmas sympathizers,” states Erik van Rheenen from mentalfloss.com. Puritans sought the political ban to cut down on the rowdiness experienced during the holiday season, which could at times even turn violent. In 1681, the ban was lifted but Christmas celebrations didn’t become popular again until the mid 1800s.
Whatever you choose to celebrate, enjoy it.
This article is presented by Kundert Volvo in Hasbrouck Heights and Englewood, NJ.