Robert L. DilenschneiderRobert L. Dilenschneider

As we move into the holiday season, here are some facts about Christmases past:

--The largest relic of the Holy Crib, an ornate trough, can be found in a Papal Basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome.

--Legend has it that St. Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop in what is now Turkey, dropped a bag of gold down a poor man's chimney for his daughter's dowry, an act of generosity that centuries later would inspire the tradition of Christmas gift-giving. In Medieval times, pudding was prepared with 13 ingredients for Christ and the 12 Apostles.

--The idea of hanging stockings began in the Netherlands in the Middle Ages when shoes filled with food were left for St. Nicholas’ donkeys. (Reindeer replaced the donkeys in Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”)

--George Frederick Handel said he saw visions of angels as he wrote the Alleluia Chorus for “The Messiah” in 1741.

--The first Christmas tree in England was decorated at the Queen's Lodge in Windsor in 1800.

--J.C. Horsley made the first commercial Christmas card in 1843 in London.

--Until 1872 “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night” was the only carol officially sanctioned by the Church of England.

--On Christmas Eve in 1880, England’s Bishop of Truro introduced a new kind of service, “The Nine Lessons with Carols,” that interspersed Biblical texts with hymns to tell the Christmas story.

--The plot of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” had its origins in a story from his earlier work, “The Pickwick Papers,” in which goblins kidnap a gravedigger and convince him to enjoy Christmas.

--During World War I, engraved postcards that depicted mistletoe were sent as messages of peace.

--At the Oscars in 1942, Irving Berlin opened the envelope to find that his own “White Christmas” had won the Best Song award.

--The amount of wrapping used for Christmas each year could circle the equator dozens of times.

All the best for a great Holiday Season, a Merry Christmas and a 2019 that is all you want it to be.


Robert L. Dilenschneider is founder and chairman of The Dilenschneider Group, a global public relations and communications consulting firm headquartered in New York City. The former CEO of Hill and Knowlton, Inc., he is also author of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling “Power and Influence.”