More than two billion people around the world consider Christmas to be the most important holiday of the year. But do they all know the facts and figures of this merry celebration?

Here’s some interesting Christmas facts that might surprise you (and they’re sure to make great for great conversation topics at your countless festive functions in the coming weeks!)

  1. Santa’s Reindeers Are Female! 

Everyone knows that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is male, right? Well at least that’s what the name and the countless movies would have us believe. But turn to science and you’re quickly proven wrong. For the most part, male deers are the only sex that grow antlers; except for when you’re talking about reindeers! During winter male reindeers lose their antlers, while females will keep theirs until the summer. So every single one of those eight reindeers pulling Santa along has to be female! Now that’s a new kind of girl power!


  1. The Plum Pudding Doesn’t Have A Single Plum

Despite its name, the traditional dessert found on Christmas tables around the world, Plum Pudding, also known as the Christmas Pudding, does not contain any plums! The central ingredients of the pudding are raisins, currants and spices. The word plum in its name refers to the medieval name for raisins.


  1. The Origins Of The First Christmas Tree 

As the traditional Christmas Fir Tree is known to be green all year round, they would be used in many winter celebrations to remind people of approaching spring. It’s believed that German’s were the first to bring decorated trees in their homes specifically for Christmas from as early as the 16th century.


  1. The Fake Christmas Tree Came From Toilet Brushes 

Keeping on topic with the Christmas Tree, the first artificial trees were created from dyed goose feathers by the Germans in the 19th century. However, the kind of artificial trees that we see in the shops today began in 1930 by a British Houseware Company, using the same animal-hair bristles used in toilet brushes.


  1. Xmas Is Actually A Religious Abbreviation 

The word Christmas was created from the two words Christ and mass, an exact description of what the day is to Christians. Yet, with abbreviations the quickest way to get the message across, Xmas is used everywhere. While, to some it may seem like you’re cutting out the ‘Christ’, it is actually a Greek abbreviation for the word Christ itself. In Greek the word Christ is spelt Χριστός. So X simply shortens the word for Christ. In fact, X was used as the secret symbol to show one’s dedication to the Church.


  1. Jingle Bells Was Not Meant For Christmas 

The popular Christmas song, Jingle Bells, was originally created in 1857 for Thanksgiving, not Christmas. In fact, the song’s original name was One Horse Open Sleigh as it was recalling the popular sleigh races in Massachusetts, United States.


  1. Eight Countries Have Banned Christmas 

Christmas isn’t a fun affair everywhere. Both North Korea and Saudi Arabia have banned any Christmas celebrations in the country. Yet you might be surprised to hear that in the past, England and the USA also put a ban on the celebration. Between 1659 to 1681 Americans celebrating Christmas in Boston would be fined five shillings, and from 1647 it was banned in England for 12 years. Other countries who have made a ban on Christmas include Tajikistan, Brunei, Albania and China.