Hi I'm Elliott and this is Mental_Floss Video. Today I'm gonna talk about some misconceptions about various holidays and then I'm gonna go have a piña colada. I don't know why I'm wearing this.
1. ST. PATRICK'S DAY IS AN IRISH HOLIDAY BECAUSE ST. PATRICK WAS IRISH.
Believe it or not, Saint Patrick was born in modern day Britain in 390 CE, and he didn't even identify as a Christian until the age of 16, which was around the time that he was sent to Ireland. So why do we celebrate St. Patrick's Day as an Irish holiday? Well, he is the patron saint of Ireland because he converted many Irish people to Christianity when he was a priest and Irish immigrants in America started celebrating the holiday as early as 1762. In fact, the holiday's often associated more with America more than Ireland where the holiday was a pretty minor affair until the 1970s, when I'm assuming they invented green beer.
2. INDEPENDENCE DAY IS THE DAY THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE WAS SIGNED.
John Adams once wrote to his wife, "I am apt to believe that [July 2, 1776], will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival." And that was because July second was the day that the Second Continental Congress voted on the declaration, but it was officially approved on the fourth so that's the day we celebrate, despite some founding fathers who preferred to celebrate on the second. If you want to celebrate when it was signed, you have to wait until August 2, and nobody wants to do that.
3. THANKSGIVING IS IN LATE NOVEMBER BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN THE FIRST THANKSGIVING WAS HELD.
Actually, it was probably celebrated some time between September 21 and November 11. We know this because it was inspired by English harvest festivals which were typically celebrated in late September. Abraham Lincoln actually suggested the late November Thanksgiving, it officially became the fourth Thursday of November in 1941.
4. CHRISTMAS IS ON DECEMBER 25TH BECAUSE THAT'S THE DAY JESUS WAS BORN.
Nowadays it's rare to find a scholar who will argue that Jesus was born on December 25, and many don't even think he was born in the year 1 CE. It wasn't until around 300 years after Jesus's birth that people started celebrating Christmas in mid-winter, so it's hard to believe that the date could be accurate. Plus, some scholars have pointed out that since there are shepherds in the story of Jesus's birth in the Bible, it would make more sense if he was born in the spring. Even Pope Benedict the 16th wrote that Christmas is probably on the wrong date. December 25 might have been chosen because there was a Pagan celebration called Saturnalia that was celebrated around then. Others argue that it was chosen to be 9 months after Easter because there was a legend that Jesus was killed and conceived at the same time of year.
5. SUICIDES INCREASE DURING THE WINTER HOLIDAYS.
Actually this phenomenon has been studied extensively and the opposite was found to be true. Suicide rates are highest in the spring and summer according to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Experts aren't sure why this is, but some believe it has something to do with the fact that people tend to interact more with others during the warmer months causing increased stress. Others claim that sunlight itself makes people more suicidal—but regardless, suicides do not increase during the winter holidays.
6. BLACK FRIDAY IS THE BIGGEST SHOPPING DATE IN THE U.S.
This is a widely reported statistic, but the biggest shopping day actually changes from year to year. For several years in the late 2000s, Black Friday was the largest, but in 2013, the Saturday before Christmas retook the crown. It varies widely but currently the momentum seems to be with that Saturday.
7. THE DREIDEL WAS INVENTED FOR HANUKKAH.
Toys similar to the dreidel existed in many ancient cultures long before Hanukkah was a holiday. It's been connected to the Babylonian empire, India, and parts of Europe, and many people used it to gamble rather than celebrate religion. The story goes that in the ancient Seleucid empire, Jewish people adapted the toy into a method for secretly studying the Torah, and that's why it's now associated with Hanukkah.
8. EASTER IS NAMED AFTER ISHTAR.
There's a popular myth on the internet that Easter is named after Ishtar who was the Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. People say that the bunny was Ishtar's symbol since they're often associated with sex which is why we have an Easter bunny. Well, if you think about it, this makes no sense. The holiday of Easter has been around a lot longer than the English word Easter has, so really doesn't make any sense at all. Experts claim that the word Easter probably comes from a Germanic goddess named Ostra and yes, the holiday of Easter was inspired by earlier pagan celebrations but there's no evidence that Ishtar had anything to do with this, so stop bringing her into it.
9: CINCO DE MAYO IS MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the day of the Battle of Puebla which occurred in 1862 when France was occupying part of Mexico. On May 5 of that year the Mexican army defeated the French army in the city of Puebla. Within five years the French no longer occupied Mexico. Mexican Independence Day is on September 16, by the way. It celebrates the start of the Mexican War of Independence against Spain in 1810.
10. NEW YEAR'S DAY IS THE MOST UNSAFE DAY TO DRIVE.
A lot of people in the U.S. think that New Year's is the most risky time to drive because there are more inebriated drivers on the road, and of course you should always be safe on the road and never drink and drive, but roads are typically more dangerous during summer holidays like the 4th of July and Memorial Day.
Thanks for watching Misconceptions on Mental_Floss video. If you have a topic for an upcoming Misconceptions episode that you would like to see, leave it in the comments. Also, apologies to the season of summer for giving it a bad rap in this video. And I'll see you next week. I'm gonna go, uh, I'm gonna go change.
1. Hi, I'm Mike, this is mental_floss on YouTube, and did you know that in the '50s the Catholic church condemned the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?" So the record label flew the 13 year old Singer, Jimmy Boyd, out to Boston to meet with the archdiocese. Afterwards, they determined that the song was okay after all.
And that is the first of many facts about holiday songs that I'm gonna share with you today. Sorry, it's gonna get pretty Christmas-y up in here, but don't worry, we'll be back to our secular ways soon enough.
2. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," "A Holly Jolly Christmas," and "Run, Rudolph, Run" were all written by the same man, Johnny Marks, who was Jewish.
3. "The Little Drummer Boy" was originally known as "The Carol of the Drums." The von Trapp singers are credited with popularizing the song—yes, those von Trapps.
4. "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," from The Nutcracker, was written in 1891 for the celesta, an instrument that was invented only five years earlier. Oh hi Nutcracker! This is a great outfit. Where do you shop?
5. In 1906, "O Holy Night" became the second song to ever be broadcast on radio.
6. The singer of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" might sound old, but that is Brenda Lee—who was 13 years old at the time.
7. The first Christmas song to mention Santa Clause was "Up on the House Top" in 1864. These guys are slightly younger than that.
8. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" was written by two people with the most Christmas-y sounding names of all time: Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne. It is also, as it turns out, about the Cuban Missile Crisis. So next time you listen to "Do You Hear What I Hear?" just keep that in the back of your mind.
9. "Joy to the World" was originally a song about Christ's resurrection and his second coming on Easter, not his birth.
10. And the popular New Year song, "Auld Lang Syne," was never supposed to be associated with the holiday at all. One live band in New York coincidentally played it just after midnight on the radio, then it became a tradition. Not long after it also became a tradition to turn to someone next to you at the New Year's party and say, "What does 'Auld Lang Syne' mean anyway, I don't even know."
11. The song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" mentions that there will be scary ghost stories, which doesn't seem Christmas-y—but in fact it was a holiday tradition that started in Victorian England and has since died out. Spending all of that uninterrupted time with your family is scary enough so there's no need for ghost stories. Just kidding, Mom and Dad, very excited to come home for Christmas.
12. Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft sang "You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch." He was also the voice of Tony the Tiger for 50 years. Not going to make a grrr-eat joke.
13. During World War I, there was a Christmas Truce, in which the French, English, and German troops sang "Silent Night."
14. On the other hand, the BBC would not play the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas" during World War II because they didn't want to lower the morale of their troops.
15. Songwriter Meredith Wilson wrote "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" in addition to the University of Iowa fight song and The Music Man. That guy had range.
16.The group recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" brought a feud between Boy George and George Michael to popular consciousness. Of George Michael's recording, Boy George said, "God, he sounded camp." But then, he is.
17. George Michael actually wrote the Wham song "Last Christmas." He also got sued for it because of its resemblance to the Barry Manilow song "Can't Smile Without You." It was settled out of court.
18. Irving Berlin, who wrote "White Christmas," hated Elvis's cover of his song. In the '50s, he started a campaign to ban Presley's version of the song from the radio, a process that proved akin to banning snow from falling.
19. And speaking of which, "Let It Snow" was written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne during a 1945 heat wave in California.
20. Another song that was written in the heat: "The Christmas Song," also known as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire." Apparently songwriter Bob Wells was overheating, so he wrote a list of things that reminded him of cold weather. Chestnuts roasting, Jack Frost nipping, yuletide carols, et cetera. And then, it became the star of a song.
21. The residents of Armonk, New York believe that the song "Frosty the Snowman" was written about their town. They even hold an annual parade in honor of it.
22. "We Three Kings" was originally written in 1857 for a Christmas pageant at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. I imagine that's a little bit different than the one that you would find in A Charlie Brown Christmas.
23. The original Yiddish version of "I Have a Little Dreidel," the dreidel is made out of bley, which means lead. It was translated to clay.
24. "Deck the Halls" started as a dance tune, the lyric "follow me in a merry measure" means "join me in dance."
25 "Silver Bells" was originally called "Tinkle Bells." Then the song writer Ray Evans told his wife about it, who responded "Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word tinkle is?"
26. There are three, count them, three separate music videos for the Mariah Carey song "All I Want for Christmas is You," and for some reason, I'm not surprised.
27. When "Winter Wonderland" was written in the '30s, some people were offended by the bit about Parson Brown marrying people on a whim. The line was replaced with "In the meadow we can build a snowman, and pretend that he's a circus clown."
28. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" was originally sung by Elmo Shropshire, a veterinarian, which I guess means that there's some kind of professional expertise supporting the described results of when grandmas and reindeers collide.
29. Paul McCartney wrote, sang, and played every instrument for "Wonderful Christmastime." He still earns between $400,000 and $600,000 every year in royalties for the song.
30. If you really received all of the gifts from "The 12 Days of Christmas," there would be 364 presents total. Someone did the math in 2013, and determined that it would cost around $114,651.18.
31. Finally, I return to the salon to tell you that "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written for the Judy Garland film Meet Me in St. Louis, originally it contained lines like "Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last, faithful friends who were dear to us will be near to us no more," but Garland insisted that the songwriter change them, because she was supposed to sing it to a 7 year old and didn't want to seem like, I quote, "A monster."
Thanks for watching mental_floss on YouTube, which is made with the help of these nice people. My name is Mike Renetta, if you like my face, you can find more of it on YouTube at PBS Idea Channel, and if you like my voice, you can find it on my podcast, Reasonably Sound, links to those things in the Dooblydoo, and hey, DFTBA, and happy holidays!