These days we celebrate Christmas with festive holiday decorations, visits from a jolly elderly gentleman named Santa, and robust trees placed by the window. But it wasn't always that way. In fact, Christmases past were quite different from our celebrations today. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the history of the Christmas holiday.

1. Santa was incredibly creepy:

Creepy Santa Claus

The creepy appearance was due to a 1900's costume style by which Santa would wear a paper mache mask along with the traditional beard and hat. Imagine seeing this version of Old Saint Nick coming down your chimney... You'd probably meet him with a baseball bat instead of a plate of cookies.

2. WWI soldiers kept Christmas trees in the trenches:

Christmas tree in the trenches during WWI

The European winters during the First World War were notoriously harsh. To boost spirits come Christmas time, soldiers would spruce up their muddy trenches, dugouts and bunkers with Christmas trees adorned with handmade ornaments.

3. Carolers were also a lot creepier:

1900s Christmas carolers

Forget charming elf outfits or Santa hats, the caroling costumes of old were much more sinister. Apparently, they were worn to honor the pagan ritual of "mumming", where performers would wear disguises and visit other people's homes to sing and dance for them in exchange for food, alcohol and money.

4. People used their own socks as Christmas gift stockings:

Christmas stockings in the 1900s

There wasn't much of a market for Christmas-specific stockings, so kids would use their own socks to collect goodies from Santa (or if they were smart, they'd raid the sock drawers of their parents so as to have more room for presents). While there is a quaint appeal to this approach, we'd venture to guess that fireplaces these days smell a lot less like feet than they use to.

5. Christmas trees were decorated with actual burning candles:

Real candles on a Christmas tree

This was before most homes had electricity, so it was the only way to light a tree. Looking back, though, it doesn't seem terribly advisable to mix open flames and trees, especially inside your house. Apparently, no Christmas was complete without a good ol' holiday fire hazard!

6. Mistletoe was once thought to be an aphrodisiac:

Mistletoe at Christmastime

Mistletoe was first documented by the Celtic druids and shamans who believed the poisonous, flower-bearing fruit to be an aphrodisiac. This might help to explain its status as an iconic cultural symbol for romance during the holiday season. Here's a fun fact, though: the word "mistletoe" actually derives from Old English and translates to "dung-on-a-twig." How's that for a romantic spark?

7. The first artificial Christmas tree was made from toilet brushes:

Artificial Christmass tree made from a toilet brush

Although the Germans had been making their own Christmas trees from duck feathers long beforehand, in 1930 a British toilet brush manufacturer decided to repurpose their machinery to mass-produce artificial trees. People loved how realistic they looked, and the popularity of the artificial Christmas tree was born.

8. Teddy Roosevelt waged a personal war against Christmas trees:

President Theodore Roosevelt

During his time as president, Theodore Roosevelt banned any and all Christmas trees from the White House premises. In reality, Theodore Roosevelt didn't hate Christmas, he was just an avid outdoorsman who sought to combat deforestation.

9. Christmas was once banned in England for 13 years:

Christmas banned in England

The Grinch has nothing on Oliver Cromwell, who after the English Civil War in 1647 placed a ban on Christmas festivities. This ban held in place for 13 whole years before being lifted in 1660.

10. German and British troops had a "Christmas Truce" during World War 1:

Christmas Truce WWI

Amidst unspeakable violence came perhaps the greatest example of Christmas spirit in history. On December 25, 1914, the opposing forces on the Western front declared a temporary ceasefire, transforming the entire 27 miles of trench-ridden no-man's land into an impromptu Christmas celebration, complete with singing and sharing of cigarettes.



  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    Yep. There never was anything actually Christian about Christmas, even though many who call themselves Christian celebrate it under totally false pretense. It is all pagan, dating back to Babylon, but with some customs which came later. God gave us Holy Days, His days, of which few know and fewer observe. Still, the planet makes a big deal out of the ancient winter solstice celebration and some call it the birthday of the Messiah, after moving it 4 days past the solstice. It is blasphemous to call it biblical.

  1. James's Avatar James

    Is it so hard to celebrate the birth of Jesus and exchange gifts with our splitting hairs in order to find issue with it. Come on. Go hug someone, get a tree, cook some good food, smile, show some love, and give some gifts. Unless your idea of Gods will being done is only misery, hatred and death. Otherwise, have a marry Christmas everyone.

    1. David's Avatar David

      Well said!

  1. Beth K's Avatar Beth K

    Yes, and onto the birthday of Mithras, a Persian God, widely worshiped in Rome. Also, on Saturnalia, another day for "eating, drinking, and making merry".

    1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

      Yes Beth, and don't forget about bachanalias. They are a lot of fun too. Bacchus really knows how to party haedy, and the more wine we drink the more we’ll honor him.

  1. Chuck's Avatar Chuck

    I celebrate Christmas, because it has a newer meaning today. However, Christmas is a Satanic Babylonian holiday by origin. King Nimrod of Babylon fancied himself as the embodiment of "God", as in the Old Testament God.....for those of you unaware, the Old Testament God is just the Demiurge (Satan) pretending to be God. Judaism is a continuation of this farse.

    Nimrod married his own mother Semiramis (aka Isis, Diana, Ishtar, Columbia, Zuul, etc.) who was the "Whore of Babylon". They had a son named Tammuz. Catholocism is just a continuation of Babylonian Satan worship and has nothing to do with Jesus. They replaced Nimrod-Semiramis-Tammus with God-Mary-Jesus. The Satanic Babylonian religion moved from Babylon, to Egypt, to Persia, to Greece and finally landed in Rome. This is why the Romans crucified Jesus on a cross...the T shape of the cross stands for Tammuz. In other words, both the Romans and the "Jews" that killed Jesus were worshipping slightly different versions of Babylonian Satan worship.......and Jesus threatened their power.

    Both Nimrod and Tammuz were killed as per legend, and Semiramis became the matriarch. Semiramis buried Tammuz, and in the spot an evergreen tree grew. As a result, Babylonians placed gifts under the tree to worship Tammuz. When the Romans realized Christianity was a threat to their Satanic religion, they formed the Catholic Church and declared themselves the authority on Christianity (all false). They simply replaced Satanic holidays with "Christian Holidays". The birth of Nimrod became Christmas, the holiday worshipping Semiramis became Easter (Ishtar), Lent is just a continuation of the starvation sacrifice to Semiramis, temples became "churches", high priests became priests, and human sacrifice on the alter became the bread and the wine. Satanic sex magic (sodomy & pedophilia) are still common place in the church as well.

    Santa Claus is just another Satanic Babylonian tradition. Santa is an anagram for Satan (same letters). Satan would go around rewarding children who served him, and having the demon Krampus (now referred to as elves) torture and beat those children who were not serving him.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Gosh, Chuck. You're pretty well on the money with most of that stuff from Hislop's Two Babylons and Bullinger's Companion Bible, but calling the god of the OT pretty much Satan is kinda off-putting, since Jesus Christ Himself told people that Moses was the real deal, and that anyone who breaks the commandments and teaches others to do so will be the least in the Kingdom of God, and the person that practices and teaches them shall be great in the Kingdom of God.

      It is a little-recognized teaching of the Bible that Jesus actually IS the God of the so-called OT ("if ye have seen me, ye have seen the father," His name shall be called Immanuel, the Mighty God,...everlasting Father," "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made...the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us...," and many other references. For instance, Jesus said no man at any time had seen the Father, but scripture says Moses saw God's back as He passed by and moved away, so whom did Moses see?).

      The OT itself is a false concept, since there is no such thing in the Bible. The Bible speaks of COVENANTS, not TESTAMENTS, and covenants are not books or collections of books. The New Covenant will be the same as the Old, (Jer 31:31) but our very nature will be changed so that it will be natural for us to be obedient rather than disobedient.

      Still, I am glad you have studied so much about the pagan practices so many embrace. God told His people not to even enquire how the heathen served their gods, because He does not want His people to serve Him that way. He said, the thing I command you, that do. Do not add to it, nor take from it. That is very similar to the end of Apocalypse (Rev), where it says that anyone who adds or takes away from the book will be cursed. Your posts are very interesting.

      1. Chuck's Avatar Chuck

        Before the "Church" took over Christianity and edited/deleted the Bible, there was 300 plus years of true pure form Christianity (most refer to as Gnostic Christianity). The message of original Christianity (Christ) was that religion/politics were false oppressive powers over mankind, and that the "God" of the OT was nothing more than the Demiurge, which is Satan pretending to be God. Christ taught that there was a true Creator above all of this mess, and that we are the Creator, and the Creator is us.... we are extensions of the Creator. The Church turned that into only Christ being the son of God, though Christ was actually teaching that we are ALL the children of God, but have been put in prison with a loss of memory here on Earth by Satan where we are born and die over and over again as slaves to this deception, but that we have a chance to break free........or........ like Christ, volunteer to come back here and try to awaken our brothers and sisters.

        Unfortunately, the evil powers that be have successfully sewn the old and new testament together as one, and edited/taken out a lot of information. We only have a view into true Christianity thanks to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts.

        1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

          Yeah, that Demiurge stuff is not in agreement with Christ's teachings, and I really haven't seen any reputable documents to that effect, not that the Catholics wouldn't have buried them in some vault or burned them, because they would, but I'm just saying, the only trace of a contradiction in the scripture is due to scribes, monks, or Sopherim inserting words not in the most ancient of manuscripts (Syriac book, Targum of Jonathan, original Koine greek scriptures, Septuagint, etc., such as the verse that says, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost or Spirit. That first appeared in margins for centuries, and gradually crept into the text).

          I'm just saying, you cannot discount the teachings of Moses without discounting the teachings of Christ, and if you do that, you may as well throw it all out, because there is no foundation for anything. Moses and the prophets told us of the coming Christ, and without their words, there is no authority to tell us Yeshua bar Yusef (Jesus, son of Joseph) is the Messiah. Jesus ratified and validated Moses at every turn, as did Paul, so there cannot be any Christianity without all of them.

          1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

            It doesn't matter where anything came from, or who said what when in the bible or any other book. What matters is what we have in our hearts and minds right now.[ The past is gone forever, the future is yet to come,all we ever have is now.] What we believe in (for whatever reason(real or imagined), how we worship,and how we celebrate this wonderful time of the year, regardless of why it is so wonderful. It is a time when I must always ignore the nay sayers and stay in a positive frame of mind. That is why it is my tradition every December to watch A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, The Greatest Story Ever Told,etc., and often tell people "Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, Happy Hannakah, or whatever floats your boat in the holiday season! And to Chuck and people like him I say' Happy Satan's Day"! Whatever you believe in do it whole heartedly, and celebrate the holiday season accordingly.

          2. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            Well, I have to disagree that it doesn't matter from whence customs came, but I can go along with the rest, Carl. I just wish that the only Christmas music I ever had to hear was Porky Pig covering Elvis' Blue Christmas, and the Grinch song. Those are the only two that don't just make my skin crawl. The Little Drummer Boy? Stupidest myth I ever heard. More stupid than Rudolph. Oh well. Anyway, I want everyone to have fun and be nice.

        2. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

          I hope Chuck remembered to take his medication today. I've been told similar stories by other schizophrenics.

          1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

            I got a CD of Twisted Christmas from Amazon this month. I also got one for my parents, and one for one of my brothers. I love those merry old Christmas songs like " Wreck The Malls", "A Message From St.Nicholson", and "I'm Gonna Dress Up Like Santa When I Get Out On Parole". Don't get the wrong idea about that though. I've never spent more than a week at a time in county jail. And that CD is sitting next to Luciano Pavarotti's CD of Oh Holy Night, for I also like Schumann's version of Ave Maria, and Pavarotti singing Sanctus from the Requiem, accompanied by the Wandsworth Boys Choir. And the next thing I'm going to get is a two CD set called Nostradamus, by Judas Priest. How's that for a strange Christmas tradition.

          2. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            Eclectic taste, for sure, but variety is good.

          3. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

   could add "Father Christmas", by Greg Lake...your eclectic taste is great...peace...Tom

  1. rabbi jim's Avatar rabbi jim

    Greetings all! I found the Christmas traditions mentioned charming and enlightening. Traditions are a wonderful thing and we should never abandon them. Shalom, and have a wonderful day and holiday season!

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    I get messages on Maher's comments, but they don't show up here. I was going to tell him "Nick" is another name for Satan.

    1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

        Joseph must have realized I was missing your idiocy and started letting your maniacal messages show again. Or perhaps you were posting as one of your three alter-egos.

        1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


          1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens


  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    And it has never registered on countries that if you can stop trying to kill your fellow human beings for Christmas, maybe you do not have to do it at all.......

    1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

      Whether you kill them or not people are going to die anyway. Maybe if nailed to crosses and done in the name of Jesus it could be done on Christmas and other christian holidays anyway. Can you see the irony in that?

      1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B the Strawbs said in "The Hangman and the Papist", "forgive them father, we hang him in thy name"...peace...Tom

  1. James's Avatar James

    What is it these days?... If one dislike any movie or color or style or a holiday, Avoid partaking of said activities. Why in the past 50 years is every one using government, laws, intimidation, crucifixion to get others to follow / believe "their" way of doing & thinking.

    1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

      It sounds like this might be a good time for you to sit back, smoke a joint, and chill out. You might try some spiked eggnog too.

  1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

    I wonder if satanists put little plastic devils with pitch forks on their Christmas trees? Will someone please enlighten me?

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      They don't have to do that. The Angels on the trees are devils. "Satan is disguised as an angel of light."

      1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

        Right on, John Owens! Thanks for the enlightenment.

  1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

    I don't have any angels on my little electric revolving tree yet. It came with white plastic snowflakes and pentagrams stuck to it though. If any of those stars are inverted they might represent Satan. I just put a bunch of candy canes on it, and some Mardi Gras beads. I'll eat the candy canes after Christmas and leave the beads on it through February. Not much storage space in this tiny studio. It's best to keep the tree up year round and change the decorations for each of the holidays. Now that I know that those angels have fallen from grace, maybe I'll toss them down on the tree near the end of October every year. Maybe I'll catch them on fire first so they'll resemble demons burning in hell, during a Halloween party, while playing my tape of Walter Kraft playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor on the pipe organ. Maybe that will start another holiday tradition.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      My mom used to take me to the local college when their orchestra was playing. We listened to the Viennese Troubadors and Beethoven and Bach and the Strausses, Rachmaninoff, and all that. I want a holiday with music by ACDC, Van Halen, Lazer Lloyd, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Atlanta Rhythm Section, etc., etc.

      1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


        1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

          Yeah, all that stuff is way too cool for you, MA HAIR.

          1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


          2. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            Sure Maher. I guess since your elevator doesn't go all the way to the penthouse, you are stuck listening to elevator music. Pretty sure you don't understand cool. If you did, your posts would make more sense.

  1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

    I can relate. I shared a bedroom with my brother who played his trumpet in the Galveston Symphony Orchestra. And my favorite genre is rock and roll (classic hard rock and heavy metal),but I like other genres sometimes too. I am definitely very eclectic.

  1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

    On second thought, it might be better to play Judas Priest's Devil's Child while tossing those devilish angels down on that tree, followed by AC/DCs Hell's Bells, then Ozzy OsBourne's I don't want to change the world.And we might as well end the party with Warrant's Cherry Pie, followed by No More Tears, for it's just a hand in the bush, in the bush, in the bush...

  1. Gwendolyn Lord's Avatar Gwendolyn Lord

    Some of you are out of your minds! History is recorded by men, therefor flawed. Anti-Jewish rants, speaks to me of fascist beliefs, not Christian ones. AND FYI---all organized religions take their stories from pagan roots. There is no One True Religion, but there is One True Deity, Infinite Spirit, by which we are placed here to love and learn. Some of you need to lighten up a bit on YOUR take on history and religion.

  1. Jerimy Blowers's Avatar Jerimy Blowers

    Just my humble opinion, my Brothers and Sisters, that God care much less about how things are interpreted and more about what we each have and hold in our hearts and how we treat others. Whether we hold to Christian traditions of Christmas or celebrate the older traditions of Yule, this is a time to remember why are allowed to experience this world. This is a time to enjoy one another and remember that compassion and giving are among the highest expressions of God in our lives. I wish each and every one of you peace and joy.

  1. Mark's Avatar Mark

    From just going through the passage of time, I have learned that most people who don’t attend a good bible based church, are just lazy. It takes effort each day to be involved in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The Bible transcends everything else in this world. The map , the guide, the truth. God gave man free will, and there are laws that control the universe, that free will changed science forever. Chance was given life, God wanted us to make the right choices, we were and are bad at it, but he Loves us anyway. Love is really the end result of a life as a Christian lived. The right choice will always bring you back to Love. You can live any way you want to, but living in the bright light of Jesus Christ is exciting, glorious, and supersedes any holiday or the like.

    1. David's Avatar David

      So which version of the Bible is the real one? There are so many it's hard to choose. More than 40 different translations in English. More than 2,000 different versions in the world! Which one is the Word of God? How can we tell?

  1. T L Woods's Avatar T L Woods

    This is my viewpoint, fellow beings. Agreeing with it is optional, of course. We have the given gifts of free will, logical induction, and self determination in the course of interaction with others. The example of Scrooge to myself is a person who had little to no interaction with anyone, except professional interaction as a money lender. At the end, he is hugging everyone, thing the best of even a stranger on the street, (the bright, clever boy). At this time of year, we all wish we had time to ourselves, but do we "profit" more if we invite someone into our home, and to share the thigns we are given?

  1. Don Bloss's Avatar Don Bloss

    Pontificating poops! None of us know, even with the Bible, the subtle complexities of the Kingdom of God. If you say you understand the Trinity, you are mistaken. God is so much more than any of us can comprehend. To me, Christ is the aspect of His Omni-presence that He chose to reveal His personality and love for His Creation. I don’t know the day He was born, but my family and I celebrate His Birthday on December 25. Just like the Plan of Salvation, it’s that simple. We don’t know so a day was chosen. Why it was chosen is beyond me, but now, we celebrate Our Savior’s birth with many of the traditions of the early church...friends breaking bread together prayerfully giving thanks and enjoying God’s grace. Have those of you, who are arguing against that, forgotten God’s Grace?

  1. Lin Amendt's Avatar Lin Amendt

    wow..lots of comments and no one even knows for sure if there even IS a god!

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Well, you might consider: It is widely accepted in the realm of physics that at one time there was no matter, no space, nothing, and then, suddenly there WAS. A simple hydrogen atom which exploded and as it did, all the universe, kosmos if you will, came into existence. Now, only a god could possibly create something from nothing. Creation demands a Creator, which some of us call God.

      Along with those elements, planets, space, atmospheres, etc, came LAWS. Recipes by which things operate. Isaac Asimov said it all operates according to a kind of fractured symmetry. Within each fragment or compartment, everything operates according to rules, or laws, which may be expressed mathematically. Since the elements have no innate intelligence of their own, these laws must have originated with a brilliant mathematician, or LAWGIVER. Some of us call that lawgiver God.

      Besides these, there is the aenigma of life itself. Any scientist or student of biology can tell you that matter cannot create life. Life only comes from life. First there was no matter, no law, no life. Suddenly, there was matter, with laws to rule their properties, and then there was life. LIFE could NOT EVER have originated on its own, hence, it came from a LIFEGIVER, which some of us refer to as God.

      Now, if people can convince themselves, or be convinced, that all of these things happened by chance, accident, or coincidence, they must indeed have a vivid imagination like that of a child who believes in Peter Pan. By comparison, I postulate that belief in a Supreme Being to whom many refer as a God, is a LOGICAL and RATIONAL conclusion, reached by deductive reasoning.

      But, to each his or her own.

      1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


        1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

          I will leave the blasphemy to you, Maher. You seem to have a really good grasp of how to do it. I will tell you though, God loves you, and wishes you would turn to Him ( the real Him, not the fake Him that is preached in most churches) so He can heal you. He said that even though He made Heaven and Earth long, long ago, and Heaven is His throne and Earth is His footstool, He will look to the person who is of an humble and contrite spirit, and trembles at His word, which things do not describe you at this time, but could, and you could someday ride on the high places of the Earth, and become a child of Jacob through faith. However, if you continue to blaspheme Him, He will not include your name in the Book of Life, and you will be turned into ashes and eventually be forgotten.

      2. Br. Karsten Johansson's Avatar Br. Karsten Johansson

        Here are your first God-like humans at work:

  1. David R.Harris's Avatar David R.Harris

    We as humans cannot comprehend infinite space, our universe, and the creation of life. We physically are not equipped to do so. So we try as we will as every generation has before us to place our thoughts in some type of organized way, to explain it. We as mortals were left with a simple gift from God, and that is to take it by faith, he is and always has been and always will be. That's all we really have to do, have faith and trust in his wisdom and love for us. Simple. Merry Christmas.

  1. Diane's Avatar Diane

    I'm from the Philly area, and at this time of year I become quite sentimental. I was thrilled to read about # 3- Caroling, which comes from the pagan ritual of “mumming". For those of you that have been wondering where the Mummers Parade comes from, here's the answer! Every January 1st for many, many years, folks have bundled up and traveled to Broad Street in Philadelphia to watch the Mummers Parade- Fancy String Bands galore. The various Mummers clubs spend the entire year in preparation for this one competitive event, and the it's a hoot and a holler. THANK you for publishing this information about the original pagan ritual. It very much reminds me of Philly Mummers of today.

  1. renie's Avatar renie


    1. renie's Avatar renie

      CORRECTION TO MY POST.....not TP but TO and not MID but MIND. was quick to post did not stop to re read for spelling errors.

      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

        Was the "YOU" in between "TP" and "MID" supposed to be "YOUR"?

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