Christmas is a time for giving, caring, and sharing blessings with those you love most. The best part comes when you all sit down at the dinner table to enjoy a great, home-cooked meal peppered with great conversation. But just as you’re about to dig into your second helping of sweet potato pie, the inevitable happens. You find yourself in the hot seat and the same old embarrassing questions about your weight, job, and love life start to flow like the wine which you suddenly wish you had more of.

Picture of Santa Claus toy skating

This year, deflect uncomfortable questions and steer towards more pleasant topics by impressing your relatives and friends with these fun and fascinating Christmas trivia.

1. Rudolph’s red nose

What’s the real cause of Rudolph’s famous crimson-colored nose? Allergies? Too much peppermint schnapps? In 1986, a Norwegian scientist speculated that a parasitic infection of the respiratory system discolored poor Rudolph’s honker.

It’s true that reindeers have specialized, blood-rich nasal passages to warm the air they breathe in, and since nasty bugs love warm places, this tongue-in-cheek explanation may not be so far-fetched after all.

2. Santa’s reindeers

Santa’s reindeers are generally depicted as strong, strapping bucks with magnificent antlers and macho names such as Comet, Donner, and Blitzen. However, adult male reindeers usually shed their antlers during early December and regrow them in the spring.

Reindeer in the snow

Female reindeers retain their antlers all winter long as a way to compete with larger males for food to sustain their unborn young. This would imply that Santa’s trusty Christmas companions are all female. Girl power all the way!

3. Xmas

It’s fairly common knowledge that the word Christmas is a contraction of the Old English word meaning “Christ’s Mass”, but why is Christmas often abbreviated as “Xmas”? Many contemporary Christians complain that this is an attempt to secularize and commercialize the holiday.

As it turns out, the “X” actually refers to the Greek letter “Chi”, which is the first letter in the Greek word for “Christ”. In fact, the use of “X” in place of Christ’s name has been a popular practice among religious scholars for over a thousand years.

4. Santa Claus

The character of Santa Claus is present in many Western cultures and is rooted in a variety of mythical, historical, and folkloric origins. The Santa Claus we’re familiar with today is based on the of 4th-century Christian bishop, Saint Nicholas of Myra.

Toy Santa Claus with blue background

A popular urban legend is that the visual image of Santa as a cheerful, stout, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white trim was created by The Coca-Cola Company in the 1930’s to promote the brand’s colors. In truth, the modern image of Santa is credited to the 1860’s illustrations of American caricaturist, Thomas Nast.

This year, make holiday conversations more interesting and peaceful with these golden nuggets of Christmas trivia.

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