Top 5 Myths about Christmas

Written by Michael Wynands ‘Tis the season to be Jolly… and (sometimes) misinformed. Welcome WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the five myths about Christmas that should be on the naughty list. From all of us here at WatchMojo - Merry Mythmas!
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Written by Michael Wynands

Top 5 Myths About Christmas

‘Tis the season to be Jolly… and (sometimes) misinformed. Welcome WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths.
In today’s instalment we’re counting down the five myths about Christmas that should be on the naughty list.
From all of us here at WatchMojo - Merry Mythmas!

#5: Three Kings Visited Jesus in The Manger

No nativity scene is complete without the Three Kings. Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar have even had their very own Christmas carol, “We Three Kings” since 1857. But here’s the thing... they were never named in the Bible. Those names were attributed to them in a 6th century manuscript describing their depiction in a mosaic at the Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. The bible also refers to them as "magi" not “kings” - leading scholars to believe they were most likely ancient astrologers. According to the Gospel of Matthew, they visited Jesus as a young child at his home, not a manger at his birth. Even the number three is highly contested.

#4: Suicide Rates

This particularly morbid Christmas myth has been around for decades, and despite the lack of supporting statistics, media outlets have perpetuated it. Christmas is a time for family cheer, holiday spirit, and community. It certainly sounds believable that this time of year could trigger suicidal thoughts in marginalized people suffering from depression, alienation or poverty by placing their issues in harsh contrast to the general merry-making of the season. Suicide IS a major problem in America… but the suicide rate reaches its yearly low in December, proving this so-called fact categorically wrong.

#3: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus and Father Christmas Are One And The Same

Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, St. Nick… the list goes on. We use these names interchangeably, but they all have distinct cultural origins. St. Nicholas was a charitable 4th century bishop who left money in the stockings of the poor. He died on Dec. 6th, which became his Saint day and a celebration of gift-giving. In 15th century England, Father Christmas debuted. He loved to make-merry, but didn’t give gifts. In America, the odd moniker Kris Kringle appeared, a name likely inspired by the German “Christkindl” - a Christ-like child figure who delivered gifts on Christmas. Dutch settlers brought a nickname for St. Nick to America... “Sinterklaas”. This would later morph into the American Santa Claus, whose mythos, borrowed from the distinct figures of St. Nick , Father Christmas and the Christkindl, resulted in the jolly old fellow we know today.

#2: Christmas Trees Are A Longstanding Tradition

Evergreen trees have long held an important place in pagan tradition - with sprigs being used to protect a home or bring it good fortune over the winter months. While pagan winter solstice festivals have influenced modern Christmas, the concept of the Christmas tree didn’t come into the picture until the 16th century… and even then, was limited to German homes. The international success of the Christmas tree only began after its introduction to America by German immigrants in the 19th century. Even then, it remained somewhat of a controversial decoration or “odd choice” until the early 1900s, when it finally took off, growing into the central holiday symbol it is today.

#1: Jesus Was Born on Dec. 25th

He could’ve been… but it’s highly unlikely. There’s simply too much evidence to the contrary. The Bible says Mary and Joseph were traveling to take part in a census, which, historically, was held in September or October - after the harvest, but before cold weather impeded travel. It also states that the shepherds were in their field at the time, but flocks are kept inside during the cold, infertile months of December in that region. The bible never gives an exact date. In the 4th century, as Christians attempted to convert pagans, they co-opted certain competing practices, such as the winter solstice celebration. The Roman emperor Constantine declared December 25th, the birth date of the pagan god of light, Mithras, to be Christ’s birthday instead, and the rest, is Christmas history.

Which of these myths did you find to be the most surprising? Can you think of any other common Christmas myths? For more top 10s sure to inspire holiday cheer, and truthful Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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