The holiday season is upon us. The merriment of the season, including Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, is apparent everywhere.
Students have circled the start date of their holiday vacation while finalizing their wish lists for family, friends and of course, Santa.
As anticipation increases, teachers often discuss holiday traditions in class. ThinkFives is here to help with a list of holiday fun facts that you can weave into your lessons.
Also, check out our post on Holiday Activities and the Top 5 Holiday Songs.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas”
How Many Gifts Would That be?
If you continue to sing the famous festive tune and count up all of the gifts that are bestowed upon the lucky singer in the lyrics—French hens, turtle doves, calling birds, and so much more—you’d end up with 364 presents.
Are we sure? Of course. On the fifth day alone, you would receive Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three french hens, Two turtle doves, and A partridge in a pear tree. That’s 15 gifts just on that day. Wait until you get to the 12th day.
For a fun math exercise with upper grade students, you can introduce Pascal’s Triangle (a triangular array of the binomial coefficients – but we’re sure you know that), where the diagonal shows how many gifts are received each day – or maybe they would rather just sing the song in class instead.
Christmas Cards Are Alive and Well
Were you thinking that Christmas Cards are a fading or outdated holiday tradition? Well, hold your reindeer.
While the rates of sending cards have declined slightly, today’s Americans buy 1.6 billion cards for Christmas, the largest card-sending holiday in the country (this according to the Greeting Card Association).
The most interesting statistic shared was that “Millennials represent nearly 20 percent of the dollars spent on greeting cards, and their spending is growing faster than that of any other generation.” So while millennials may not be able to write cursive, they can at least sign their name.
O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree
The tradition of putting up Christmas trees is more than 500 years old. Putting up a Christmas tree has been a part of American holidays for years. However, it’s a tradition that can be traced back to Germany.
According to History.com, “Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes.” The custom didn’t come to the U.S. until the late 1700s or early 1800s, via German settlers in Pennsylvania.
Over 120 million trees are adorned every Christmas across the world. However, we do need to highlight that in some regions, this is leading to deforestation and CO2 release.
When Is Hanukkah?
The dates of Hanukkah (or Chanukah) change each year. Because Hanukkah is based on the Hebrew calendar, there’s no set Gregorian date range for Hanukkah. It always starts on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev and that date can correspond to anywhere from late November to late December. 2021 has one of the earliest celebrations of Hanukkah.
This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 18, 2022, and ends the evening of Monday, December 26, 2022 (8 nights). Hanukkah is celebrated in several ways. In addition to lighting one candle each day on the menorah, religious rituals can include daily reading of Scripture, recitation of some of the Psalms, almsgiving, and singing of a special hymn.
Here are the dates for 2022 and upcoming years.
- 2022: Sunday, December 18 to Monday, December 26
- 2023: Thursday, December 7 to Friday, December 15
- 2024: Wednesday, December 25 to Thursday, January 2
- 2025: Sunday, December 14 to Monday, December 22
Santa Is Getting Red
Did you know that Santa did not always dress up in red clothes? We checked the Internet and found that Coca Cola decided to dress him up in colors that matched their brand, and that stuck. So this is why he is dressed in red now!
But hold your reindeer again!
After reading our recently published “How to Help Students Spot Fake News”, we followed our own suggestions, re-checked our source, looked for other verifications and found this:
Ferret Fact Service verdict: False about Coca Cola
- The depiction of Santa Claus as a red-suited old man has been in existence since at least the 19th century.”
Even Coca Cola agrees:
- “It’s widely believed that today’s Santa wears a red suit because that’s the color associated with Coca Cola, but this isn’t the case.”
This Internet rumor is now debunked. But was he always red?
- No. Santa Claus initially wore clothes that were green, purple, or blue. For many years, this was the common theme for the jolly old man at the North Pole. In fact, when Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elf-like figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
A Holiday Bonus
Thomas Nast Santa Claus 1862
Since this is the season of giving, ThinkFives is providing a bonus list of short holiday fun facts.
- Santas earn around $30 an hour, but can make up to $100 per hour for their work.
- It’s the most popular time of year to propose with over 100k proposals expected this year.
- Santa has an official address in Canada: Santa Claus, North Pole, HOH OHO, Canada
- Washington Irving’s “Knickerbocker’s History of New York” may have introduced the idea of Santa using chimney’s to visit houses.
- Families have been tracking Santa’s progress across the globe on that magical night for many years at the NORAD site, which is now an app that can be downloaded.
What is your favorite Holiday Fun Fact?