Did you know… Donner and Blitzen are named after the Dutch words for thunder and lightning? Also, male reindeer lose their antlers in the winter due to hormonal changes, so Rudolph and Santa’s other reindeer must either be female or castrated males. In an even more scientific revelation, statistics in a 1999 study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine show that Christmas is the season of unprotected sex.Joe Green’s Weird and Wonderful Christmas lists these and other random Christmas trivia in this book tailor-made for stocking stuffer season.
Growing up Catholic, I was already familiar with quite a few of the facts Green brings up about the first Christmas. Blame it on Catholic priests who try to make the Christmas homily more interesting with “shocking” revelations about the inaccuracy of the nativity scene. Some factoids, such as the manger most probably being temporary lodging until a guest room could be prepared, were interesting. However, some trivia, such as the observation that it’s a Christmas miracle that despite bypassing non-Christian homes worldwide, Santa Claus has never been slapped with a class-action lawsuit for discrimination, just seemed rather Grinchy. Others, such as the observation that the wise men couldn’t have been so wise because they told Herod about Jesus’ birth in the first place, which then led to the massacre of the innocents, just struck me as the class pedant nitpicking in order to show off how much he knows. Bah, humbug.
That being said, practically everything there is to know about Christmas might just be found in this book — holiday traditions around the world, major historical events on December 25th, famous people in history who were born on December 25th, and so on. There are heartwarming moments, such as temporary ceasefires during battle, where soldiers would cross battle lines to celebrate Christmas together. There are also rather interesting tidbits of information, such as the female Santa who sued for sex discrimination when she was fired.
Green’s trivia is delightfully complemented by Lisa K. Weber’s cheeky illustrations. How can you resist the conga line dancing Santas on the cover? The overall book design is funny, and just makes this a lot of fun to flip through, particularly if you’re reading it to your kids. The design highlights some more lighthearted holiday cheer, such as a multi-page line of Christmas greetings in various languages.
This book will make a great stocking stuffer, particularly for those who love nerding out over Christmas trivia. Trivia party games, anyone?
Thank you to Thomas Allen Ltd for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.