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Christmas Traditions and Holiday Fun Facts

December 13, 2022

Did you know eggnog once started a riot and Tiny Tim’s real name is Fred? Check out more Christmas trivia, fun factoids, weird winter celebrations and holiday traditions from around the globe.

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From: Kristin Guy

Equip Yourself With Cocktail-Party Trivia

From pickle ornaments to Christmas trees adorned with spiders to Clark Griswold’s utility bill, we've got some holiday tidbits for you to share and enjoy.

For instance, did you know a 1978 Paris assassination attempt on Bulgarian defector Vladimir Kostov is thought to have been foiled when his thick sweater prevented exposure to a pellet of lethal poison? It's something to think about while layering up for the holidays or to drop into conversational lulls. We’ve pulled together 30 more seasonal factoids to deploy as needed; good luck.

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Photo: Getty Images; victoriabee

Icelanders Gift Each Other Books

Each November, every single household in Iceland receives a copy of the Bókatíðindi — a book bulletin featuring every single new title published in Icelandic that year. Christmas-gifters-to-be can then pick and choose among those reads to take advantage of the Jólabókaflóð, or “Christmas book flood.” The practice began in 1944 when World War II-era import duties made non-paper gifts difficult to acquire and prohibitively expensive. Today, it’s a celebration of Iceland’s spectacular literary culture (and an excellent way to settle in for a winter evening).

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Photo: Etsy seller BeadJeweledSpiders

Ukrainian Christmas Trees Have Spiders

Ukrainian tradition holds that eight-legged adornments are good luck. According to a folk tale, a passel of friendly spiders once helped an impoverished family decorate their Christmas tree, and their webs turned to silver and gold. New York City’s Ukrainian Museum holds annual ornament workshops, and the dazzling arachnids are always the runaway favorites. Can’t make it to the Big Apple? Adopt a gleaming critter like this one from Etsy seller BeadJeweledSpiders.

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Oaxacans Celebrate ‘Night of the Radishes’

In the Mexican state of Oaxaca, master carvers spend December 23rd whittling away at root vegetables to create radish-based representations of everything from Biblical figures to domestic tableaux and fantastic mythical creatures. That evening is Noche de los Rabanos (Night of the Radishes), and tourists and guests admire the artisans’ entries before judges award official prizes to the best in show. The competition began in 1897 as a way to showcase local agriculture at Oaxaca City’s Christmas Market. A century later, it’s a one-of-a-kind festival known the world over.

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