Christmas is a time steeped in traditions and customs that vary around the world; many with such historical roots we've probably forgotten how they all originated.
There's plenty of food trivia to discover about Christmas, from the feasting to the singing; here are 8 fun facts, from the historical to the unusual, which you can recount to guests in an idle moment in between basting the turkey and pulling crackers.
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1. The Big Christmas Feast
Think your Christmas dinner is a challenge? Try tackling this; In the year 1213, King John of England ordered ordered 3,000 capons, 1,000 salted eels, 400 hogs, 24 casks of wine and much much more for his Christmas dinner, making the Duke of Northumberland's Christmas menu in 1512 of 5 swans seem rather modest. In 1580 Christmas feasts were back on par with Sir William Petrie ordering 17 oxen, 14 steers, 29 calves, 5 hogs, 13 bucks, 54 lambs, 129 sheep and one ton of cheese.
2. In Japan Fast Food is the Order of the Day
On 25 December Japanese flock to the American fast food chain KFC in Tokyo thanks to the impact of a "Kentucky for Christmas" marketing campaign that hit about 40 years ago. The tradition is so popular infact that diners book ahead by a couple of months to secure a seat to enjoy a bucket of fried chicken.
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3. Egg Nogg, the Drink of Nobles
Eggnog, or crow's milk, is a Christmas alcoholic beverage that was borne from English aristocrats. The first eggnog seems to have been sipped in 1607 in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia (USA).
4. Cookies for Santa
Both in the US and in places across Europe children leave cookies and warm milk as light refreshment for Santa Claus during his long night of delivering presents. The tradition began from another custom: when Christmas trees used to be decorated with food. In the past, especially in Germany, apples, cookies and other food were used to decorate the festive tree: some of these decorations, however, disappeared during the night, or rather, were devoured. This led to speculation that it was Santa looking from some late-night snacks when leaving the children their presents.
5. In Chile They Start to Eat at Dawn
Most of us are familiar with Christmas lunch getting later than intended, but how about starting at dawn?! This is what happens in Chile, South America, when lunch (or dinner?) starts at dawn on 25 December, after the traditional Misa del Gallo, or Mass.
6. The Real Story Behind the Gingerbread House
The history of gingerbread dates back to 992, when the bread and cakes were seasoned with spices from the East. But the ginger came only later thanks to a bishop. Find out why here.
7. Jingle Bells was Originally for Thanksgiving
This popular festive song is inescapable come the holiday season. Interestingly it was originally written to commemorate American Thanksgiving when it was written in 1850 by composer James Lord Pierpont Find out more at Martha Stewart. Unusually it was also the first song broadcasted from space on December 16, 1965.
8. Underneath the Misletoe
Whether you carefully manoeuvre yourself under the mistletoe or away from it, a sneaky Christmas kiss under the mistletoe is a yuletide tradition that has been around for centuries. However, mistletoe berries, whilst notoriously poisonous, were once considered an aphrodisiac and are still a symbol of fertility and virility, consider yourself warned!