2. THE word Noel derives from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” or “the good news”, referring to the news about the birth of Jesus.
3. HANGING stockings out comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas’s donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
4. THE tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.
5. THE abbreviation Xmas isn’t irreligious. The letter X is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.
6. BEFORE turkey, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig’s head and mustard.
7. THE Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Xmas presents are opened on New Year’s Day.
8. MANY parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten, with the needles being a good source of Vitamin C.
9. THE holly in a wreath symbolizes Christ’s crown of thorns while the red berries are drops of his blood.
11. JINGLE Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.
12. ASTRONOMERS believe the Star Of Bethlehem, which guided the wise men to Jesus, may have been a comet or the planet Uranus.
13. SANTA has different names around the world – Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.
14. THE word Christmas comes from the Old English “Cristes maesse” meaning “Christ’s Mass”.
15. THE bestselling Xmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, shifting over 50million copies worldwide since 1942.
16. SINCE 1947 Oslo has sent an Xmas tree to London to thank them for their help in the Second World War.
17. SANTA Claus comes from a Dutch folk tale based on Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, who gave gifts on December 6.
18. BOXING Day gets its name from all the money collected in church alms-boxes for the poor.
19. KISSING under the mistletoe is thought to spring from Frigga, the Norse goddess of love, who was associated with the plant.
20. THEY may date back to pagan traditions, but the earliest known reference to a Christmas tree is in a German pamphlet from 1570.
21. THE first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD.
All the above are from a December 2006 issue of the UK newspaper The Daily Mirror, from their list of 50 little known facts about Christmas.