10 little known facts about Christmas

A look at some of the origins behind famous festive traditions...

10 little known facts about Christmas

Original Santa Claus and Rudolph puppets from the TV special "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". Picture by Paul Vernon AP/Press Association Images

From Christmas trees to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, the holiday season is loaded with countless symbols, traditions and celebrations.

We're all familiar with them, but where exactly did the traditions actually originate? We take a look at some of them below:

1. Historians and Bible experts think it is unlikely Jesus was born on December 25th, with some theorising that he was likely born in the Spring instead.

2. It is believed the December 25th date for Christmas Day was settled on for a variety of reasons. It was the calendar date the winter solstice was marked in Rome, and it comes nine months after March 25th (a date that has been historically linked with the Annunciation). The Christian tradition of celebrating Jesus' birth on December 25th dates back to the 4th century.

3. Santa Claus and his tradition of leaving gifts partially derives from Saint Nicholas and his feast day, which is typically celebrated on December 6th.

4. A number of poems, stories and even ads have been linked with the modern image of Santa. However, one of the key influences is a poem most will be familiar with - the poem A Visit from St Nicholas, more widely known as 'Twas The Night Before Christmas. The iconic poem was published in 1823, and was originally published anonomously. Writer Clement Clarke Moore later claimed authorship, although many contest that it was instead the work of Henry Livingston, Jr.

5. While the seasonal importance of evergreen trees dates back to ancient and pagan times, the modern version has its origins in 16th century Germany when decorated trees became a tradition for Christian families. It spread beyond Germany in the 19th century.

6. According to Bord Bia, it takes around 7 - 10 years for a Christmas tree to grow to a minimum height of 2 metres.

7. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was created by Robert Lewis May in 1939. He worked as an advertising copywriter for the Montgomery Ward retailer in the US, and Rudolph first appeared in a free 'Christmas book' distributed to shoppers.

8. A number of Celtic traditions have worked their way into Irish Christmas celebrations or have been inherited in some form. However, Celtic history's most enduring contribution to the festive season is probably the use of mistletoe, which History.com notes is the likely origin of the plant's 'romantic overtones' - Druids viewed the iconic plant as a symbol of liveliness and fertility.

9. Buying the gifts immortalised in 12 Days of Christmas would likely cost you around $34,363.49 (around €32,363) this year, according to the PNC annual index. "The cost of this year's CPI rose ever so slightly, driven by the price increases for the Turtle Doves due to lack of availability, and wage increases for the Drummers and Pipers," the financial group notes.

10. Big Crosby's White Christmas is not only estimated to be the best selling Christmas song of all time, but the best selling song of all time with an estimated 50 million singles sold.